By: Matt Johnson
Josephine Street, or J-street, is a family. We gather across porches, have impromptu dinners, and help each other daily. We are close; for some of us we are closer than blood. During COVID we became even closer. When we couldn’t go out into the world, we brought the world to Josephine with internationally-themed parties.
Then and now we hold outdoor movie nights. We watch each other’s kids. This is the only place I’ve ever lived where I feel like I belong. THIS is my family.
We do have some concerns about how the proposed development adjacent to Josephine along Moreland will affect this family.
Developing the surface lot and the former Cameli’s restaurant property on Moreland is welcomed by Josephine Street residents. We endure the empty lot and the drag racing, drug use, “stereo parties,” and other anti-social activities that occur in these lots regularly.
Also, we fully agree with Mr. Thad Sheely’s statement in the Atlanta Business Journal, “I think neighborhoods are what make Atlanta special, and there’s a lot of opportunity to build and bring them together.”
With changes we believe this project can fulfill that vision. The developer addressed some of our issues in the letter published here on the CPNO website, citing trees, restaurant exhaust, odor, and height. We appreciate the thought given to odor and restaurant exhaust, but our true top three issues remain trees, building height, and the sewer location.
Like many residents we love that Atlanta is a city of trees. Our issues pertaining to our trees are:
The developers did not include a tree plan in their application.
There are five impacted trees on Josephine and one in the buffer.
One of these trees is the largest water oak in the city, a magnificent tree. It stands without rods or cables – truly a wonder.
We are working with the developer on this subject. Our trees must be saved.
We oppose the proposed 81’ height of this building. Plans and studies commissioned by neighborhood organizations support height restrictions in the area.
The purpose of Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zoning is to ensure development is compatible “with the scale [and] character… of the adjacent neighborhood.” East Atlanta Village and Inman Park have height limits.
The 2013 Candler Park Master Plan recommended limiting buildings to 35’ or 60’ in Candler Park.
The more recent L5P Mobility Study mirrors this sentiment, calling for height restrictions and “multiple smaller buildings.”
Why was NC-1 not updated to include these restrictions on towering structures next to residential homes near L5P?
The current plans reroute the sewer lines that connect from Josephine to Moreland into the required 20’ greenspace buffer between the building and adjoining properties.
Zoning ordinance, 16-32-009, does not allow for the greenspace buffer to be used for “any other purpose” than greenspace and private alleys.
Routing the sewer through this area creates a hazard to the border trees as Atlanta Watershed can be expected to dig using heavy equipment if there is ever an issue with the sewer line – this negates any mitigation efforts to preserve the previously mentioned trees.
Josephine is a family, we love our community, and we want the best for it. We just want what is best for Little 5 and to ensure that any development is consistent with the character, charm and spirit we all love.
Although we had no visibility to this project prior to the published agenda for the April CPNO meeting. We look forward to working with the developers and the neighborhood to guide this project to something that everyone can approve of, or at least accept. We can all win, this does not have to be a zero-sum game. I hope we can all remember that diversity of opinion is valuable and usually creates a better solution to our problems.
Matt Johnson, a technology consultant, is an 18-year resident of Josephine Street.