Read, click on links to articles, web sites, and studies. Do your own research.
Upcoming Events - Watch for an Email Invitation to your Virtual Block Meeting
*While this survey is anonymous it is only open to Ansley Park Residents. Please be sure to log in to ansleypark.org to take this survey. If you are not a member of the APCA you can register to take this survey by clicking here.
ANSLEY PARK FOREVER’S MISSION
To bring the Ansley Park community together to preserve its historic character, streetscape and excellent quality of life during dynamic city growth.
The beauty and value of Ansley Park rests in the unique residential character, streetscape and quality of life offered its residents right in the middle of the city.
Critics of the rewrite say it allows too many trees to be removed, and is in opposition of the tree conservation it was supposed to deliver:
Some of the changes may be beneficial for the neighborhood, but as it stands now, our residents will have little say in coming changes. Crafting our own zoning standards, through Historic or Landmark designation, would provide residents with a greater voice in the future of our neighborhood.
Market forces, along with current generic rules and proposed zoning changes, inadvertently encourage demolition rather than renovation. The result is infill that is not always compatible with the neighborhood in massing or scale. The fear is that if this process is left unchecked, Ansley Park will become unrecognizable in the years to come, its streetscape altered, and its distinctive historic character lost. It will no longer be the lush, green oasis in the center of Midtown that it is today.
Here are examples of what is happening now that will increase without neighborhood intervention:
ANSLEY PARK FOREVER COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Jennifer Friese, Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Georgia Schley Ritchie
More than a year ago The History & Preservation (H&P) committee became concerned over the accelerated rate of demolitions in the neighborhood. They set out to understand why it was happening and began to look at the bigger picture. They studied the Comprehensive Atlanta Preservation Act because they knew it was the only tool that could slow down or control demolition, and discovered that local Historic or Landmark designation can do a lot more than that. They are flexible zoning tools that would allow residents to shape future development in Ansley Park, and ensure new construction fits in scale and character with the neighborhood.
H&P went to the Civic Association (APCA) and asked if a broader ad hoc committee could be formed to further explore local Historic/Landmark with our community. APCA voted to form Ansley Park Forever.
APF has put together what we are calling a “learning tool”; a treasure trove of information to educate neighbors about change that affects Ansley Park; what is at risk, our history of community involvement and great neighborhood planning, an explanation and examples of Historic/Landmark Districts in Atlanta. It contains a lot of information, so, we want to allow all residents the time to read what we’ve written, click the links to articles, web sites and studies, and then do their own research. Then we want to start a conversation to see if our community wants to explore further.
The city is undergoing a comprehensive rewrite of the zoning ordinance to be implemented within 5 years. All proposed changes are not yet known however in January, 2019 the city passed an ordinance allowing Auxiliary Dwelling Units (ADU’s) without parking requirements for residential zoning. We believe Interior Dwelling Units (IDU’s) will soon follow. Key proposed zoning changes will begin to be be shared publicly in February or March 2021. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
Here is the ADU without parking requirements Ordinance 18-0-1581:
Please follow these links for more insight on coming zoning changes:
The Atlanta City Design Project from the Department of City Planning.
Here is Mayor Lance Bottoms “One Atlanta”, Housing Affordability Action Plan, click the image to get to the document:
HOW DOES BELTLINE OVERLAY ZONING AFFECT THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
Beltline Overlay Zoning covers a swath of land encircling the entire Beltline. In Ansley Park it comes up South Prado to The Prado to Montgomery Ferry to Beverly to Friar Tuck in Sherwood Forest. Its main purpose is to promote connectivity and walkability on and off the Beltline. Beltline Overlay Zoning does not affect R4 or R5 Zoning, but for RG-3 zoning, the Beltline Overlay Zoning allows for a set of generic Design Standards that can decrease set-backs and Usable Open Space (greenspace) requirements that can increase building massing. All of Piedmont is zoned RG-3, as are parts of South Prado, The Prado and Park Lane. Historic/Landmark Designation would supersede Beltline Overlay Zoning with its own set of controls determined by the neighborhood. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
THE EXISTING ZONING REGULATIONS IN ANSLEY PARK:
Residential R-4: (single family homes)
Front yard set-back: 35 feet
Side yard set-back: 7 feet
Rear yard set-back: 15 feet
Height: 35 feet
Floor to Area Ratio: not to exceed .50
Lot Coverage: not to exceed 50%
(CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
Residential R-5 (single or two-family homes):
(for single family)
Front yard set-back: 30 feet
Side yard set-back: 7 feet
Rear yard set-back: 7 feet
Height: 35 feet
Floor to Area Ratio: not to exceed .50
Lot Coverage: not to exceed 55%
(there are different standards if lot is below standard size, for duplexes and two-family dwellings)
Residential General, RG-3: (multi-family dwellings):
Is informed by a set of design standards depending on form:
CAN’T WE RELY ON THE CITY’S TREE ORDINANCE TO PROTECT OUR TREE CANOPY?
The City is rewriting their tree ordinance and we don’t know the final result. The draft that was proposed in March 2020 was more lenient than the current regulations. It was met with a lot of opposition and they are in the process of public meetings. Through our Historic/Landmark designation we could determine our own rules for tree removal. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
Here is the March 2020 Draft:
Here is the City Planning Departments Tree Ordinance site:
Some Tree Advocacy Groups:
WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD TO MANAGE NEW DEVELOPMENT THAT IS OUT OF CHARACTER WITH NEIGHBORHOOD SCALE AND DENSITY?
We can come together as a neighborhood to explore Historic/Landmark Designation to see how this zoning tool can be used to ensure that Ansley Park residents have input into what happens in their own neighborhood.
LET’S GET A CONVERSATION GOING
The APCA History & Preservation committee spent the past year studying the issues and believes that Ansley Park could qualify for Historic or Landmark Designation. This would allow residents to define the changes they do or do not wish to see in the neighborhood, and can ensure new development fits the character of the neighborhood. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
Historic/Landmark Designation could provide a warm hug around the neighborhood by promoting the goals of the original neighborhood plan, to maintain its primarily residential status, solidify its boundaries, protect the greenspace and tree canopy and support our high quality of life.
The APCA voted to allow a steering committee to form called Ansley Park Forever (APF), it includes a cross-section of neighbors.. Their goal is to gather input from all residents and property owners in Ansley Park. There will be surveys, opportunities to elaborate on ideas or reservations via email, virtual block and community meetings, and in-person meetings once that is possible.
APF will also request input from the various organizations in the neighborhood, i.e., History & Preservation, Beautification, Zoning, the Sustainability Group, the realtors etc. to ensure all perspectives are considered.
Once this information is gathered and assessed, and if the neighborhood wants to move forward with Landmark or Historic designation, APF will draft regulations and workshop each section with the community. The regulations will be refined per neighborhood feedback, and the document would then be finalized and polished. Once it is deemed ready and the committee feels there is a good consensus represented, it could be voted on.
HOW DOES HISTORIC/LANDMARK DISTRICT WORK?
Neighborhood Historic or Landmark designation does not change zoning land use. The existing R-4, R-5 and RG-3 zoning will remain in effect. An overlay of Landmark or Historic District regulations provides specific instructions created by residents to place on top of the zoning code. Generally speaking, if a zoning rule and the Historic/Landmark designation overlay are in conflict, the more specific directive will prevail. (CLIICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
Ordinary maintenance and interior renovation would not be affected with Historic/Landmark Designation. In fact, the community can specify a list of improvements that need no approval. The renovation process would be streamlined.
Current Zoning Review/Approval Process
AP Zoning Board
NPU-E (Neighborhood Planning Unit)
BZA (Board of Zoning Adjustment
Landmark/Historic Designation Zoning Review/Approval Process
OPTIONAL - AP Zoning/Advisory Board
UDC - Atlanta Urban Design Commission
Construction, demolition and some site work would require a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission (UDC). The neighborhood would decide which types of actions would be characterized as needing a Type I, II, III, IV COA. Each type would require the homeowner to apply for a COA from the UDC that meets a greater level of controls (set by the neighborhood) to gain approval:
For example, it could be designed like this:
This is the easiest and quickest COA. If certain controls set by the neighborhood are met, the Director of the UDC will automatically approve this OR the neighborhood could say NO Type I COA’s are required and specify exactly what does NOT need approval.
The neighborhood can determine which set of conditions require a bit more scrutiny while still providing expedience. If conditions are met, this type of COA could be automatically approved by the Director of the UDC within 14 days.
This approval would be determined by the Commission of the UDC rather than just the Director based on the controls laid out by the neighborhood. No time constraint is set for this type of COA.
This would be the most difficult approval to get from the Commission of the AUD based on the APLD guidelines with no time constraint.
Issues that could be covered are ADUs, parking, signage, demolition, set-backs, height restrictions, tree removal, design standards, etc. The neighborhood can decide which issues they want to address.
Read more on the Atlanta Urban Design Commission site:
CAN WE SUCCEED AT MANAGING NEW DEVELOPMENT THAT IS OUT OF CHARACTER WITH NEIGHBORHOOD SCALE AND DENSITY?
We believe we can succeed because the Poncey-Highland neighborhood has already successfully secured Historic designation. They have done a masterful job of preserving the beauty and history of their neighborhood while allowing for modernization and development appropriate for today and the future.
Read about Poncy-Highlands efforts:
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LANDMARK AND HISTORIC DESIGNATION?
Landmark designation has a higher standard of qualifications that we believe Ansley Park can meet. However upon application the Commission may determine that we instead meet the lesser qualifications of Historic Designation. The regulations are not necessarily stricter for Landmark versus Historic, both are customizable zoning tools.
Here are the qualifications:https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/city-planning/office-of-design/urban-design-commission/designation-criteria
LANDMARK & HISTORIC DISTRICTS IN ATLANTA
These are the existing Landmark and Historic districts in Atlanta. Ansley Park qualifies to stand among them.
(CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
Castleberry Hill - Designated: March 16, 2006
Means Street - Designated February 6, 2017
Briarcliff Plaza - Designated November 15, 2017
Pratt-Pullman - Designated November 29, 2017
Inman Park - Designated: April 10, 2002
Oakland City - Designated: November 10, 2004
Atkins Park - Designated: July 5, 2007
Sunset Avenue - Designated: May 25, 2011
Collier Heights - Designated: May 7, 2013
Bonadventure-Somerset: March 13, 2019
Poncy-Highland – Designated: September 8, 2020
These Landmark and Historic district regulations documents can be found in the City of Atlanta municode library - Part 16 Zoning, Chapter 20, the link is below. It is interesting to read through these to see how the historic and landmark designation tool is tailored to meet the unique needs of each neighborhood.
Here are some direct links to these neighborhoods:
WHAT ABOUT PROPERTY VALUES?
Landmark or historic district designation often improves property values because it requires everyone to maintain the character of the neighborhood and gives some certainty that new construction or renovation will be respectful of the existing character of the community and its architecture. Properties in landmark and historic districts tend to appreciate more and hold value better than identical properties not in such a district. They usually do move with the market without experiencing the peaks that come with speculation nor do they bottom out during a down-turn. Of course, nothing is guaranteed. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)Some links:
HOW DOES PRESERVATION PROMOTE SUSTAINABILITY?
The Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation has reported that reusing existing buildings is good for the economy, the community and the environment . (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
Read their full report here:
results on page 61
ANSLEY PARK’S RICH HISTORY OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND CELEBRATED PLANNING
ANSLEY PARK HISTORIC TIMELINE
1904 – Edwin P. Ansley developed 275 acres into a residential neighborhood over four phases (1904-1913). He hires landscape architect Salon Z. Ruff to create the layout of curvilinear streets, 14 parks and expanses of lush green space based on the principles of Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
1915 – Ansley Park Social Club is formed; this will become the Ansley Park Civic Club, then the Ansley Park Civic Association.
1934 – Ansley Park’s lots are completely platted with a wide range of eclectic and period architectural styles.
1944-1950’s – Atlanta and Ansley Park face a major housing shortage as people move into cities after the war. Many of the bigger, residential homes are illegally split into boarding houses and bordellos. Many of the homes fall into disrepair and the banks will not make loans to improve the homes.
1950’s - In response to imminent urban blight, Ansley Park residents become activists to improve neighborhood character and integrity.
1956 – The city passes its first zoning ordinance since 1929, which expands subdivisions of classifications to specify use and bulk regulations.
1964 – The Ansley Park Civic Club becomes the Ansley Park Civic Association
1964- Local bank, Citizens & Southern (C&S), has concerns about the fate of Ansley Park and the potential for default on the loans they had put up in the neighborhood. They meet with APCA president and offer to put up $1000 toward development of a revitalization plan for Ansley Park.
1964 – Ansley Park Civic Association hires planner and neighbor Leon Eplan of Eric Hill Associates to draft the neighborhood plan to preserve and defend the neighborhood character. This will be the first neighborhood plan in the United States. The plan identifies Ansley Park as a neighborhood by defining its boundaries and it showed consensus among the residents to promote the collective goals of the neighborhood.
1964 - C&S Bank began to give loans based on the appraised value of houses after proposed improvements. This unique banking practice, along with the neighborhood plan and the city’s revised zoning ordinance, helped save Ansley Park from decline and ultimate demise.
1960’s-70’s – APCA turned out hundreds of residents, the so-called “little ol’ ladies in tennis shoes”, at numerous city zoning hearings to defend the plan and enforce the zoning code and keep out encroaching commercial development.
1968 - Ansley Park residents commit to city living and adopt a statement welcoming all to live in the neighborhood. This was in honor of the 1964 Civil Rights Act making it illegal to deny anyone the right to buy, rent or sell housing on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. In doing this AP bucked the trend of urban flight and took a stand against racism.
1974 – Public housing comes to Ansley Park.
1979 – Ansley Park added to the National Registry of Historic Places with its diverse architecture including Colonial Revival, Neoclassical Revival, English Vernacular Revival (Tudor), Mission/Spanish Revival, French Vernacular Revival, Craftsman, Craftsman Bungalow, American Small House and Gable Winged Cottages, etc. The neighborhood represents an intact example of a 20th century suburb.
1982 – The City of Atlanta introduces RG, Residential General zoning classifications. The purpose is to: provide a range of residential densities, provide supporting facilities by special permit, encourage PRESERVATION of large dwellings by allowing CONVERSION to 2-family and multi-family dwellings. At this point, it is believed that some homes around the perimeter of the neighborhood were changed to RG-3 Zoning.
1982 – The Beautification Foundation is created as a 501c3 whose mission is to preserve and maintain the parks, greenspaces, and islands in the neighborhood. Igneous rock was used to create permanent markers at all the entry ways.
1989 – Comprehensive Atlanta Historic Preservation Act is passed
1991 – Ansley Park votes down Historic Designation with 55% for, 45% against.
2008-2011 – The development of Atlantic Station allows APCA to secure 3.8m from government agencies to implement traffic a calming initiative that resulted, among other things, in three round-abouts.
2011 – The American Planning Association designates Ansley Park as one of “10 Great Neighborhoods in America”.
2014 – Ansley Park History & Preservation committee is created. Its mission is to remind residents of the historic nature of our area and encourage residents to preserve and protect the landscape and the individual identities of homes and apartments.
2015 – Ansley Park’s amended application to include Beverly Road is approved for the National Registry of Historic Places.
2021 - Atlanta is one of the fastest growing large cities in the US. Even a pandemic has not slowed construction in Atlanta. Ansley Park has become some of the most desirable real estate in the city. It is in Midtown, close to major highways and public transportation, situated between Piedmont Park, with the glorious Botanical Gardens to the east and Arts Center, with the renown High Museum, Symphony Hall and the Alliance Theater, to the west. As a result, every house that goes on the market is a target for demolition to make room for a bigger house or an apartment building.
THE ANSLEY PARK NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN - THE FIRST NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN IN THE U.S.
This was a revolutionary idea for the time that paved the way for neighborhood plans in Atlanta and all over the United States. It defined the boundaries of a neighborhood and gave it a name, creating a stronger sense of community among residents. The plan represented consensus among the residents allowing them to use it to promote their collective goals. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE/LESS)
While Ansley Park now faces a different set of problems than the neglected houses and the fear of blight in the 1960’s and 1970’s, both then and now the issue of adapting to the growth of the city remains relevant.
Some excerpts from the plan: (1973)
Ansley Park contains the best elements for urban design, they were built into the design and have been preserved:
- Good subdivision design
- Abundant open space
- Good community facilities
- Sound housing
Distinct boundaries were established:
North – by the Southern Railroad and Sherwood Forest
East – by the Southern Railroad and Piedmont Avenue
South – by the rear lot lines of the properties facing and on the north side of 14th Street
West – by the rear lot lines of properties facing and on the east side of Peachtree.
The issues: the city was growing around Ansley Park yet many of its houses had fallen into disrepair. The community did not want blight to take a foothold, threatening the stability of the neighborhood and distracting from the physical appearance of the neighborhood. Commercial development was encroaching along Peachtree, there was pressure for higher residential densities, more through traffic and excessive on-street parking.
Proposed Solutions (in 1973):
Many of these issues were addressed by new zoning codes put into place in 1982. Today Ansley Park, while primarily single-family residential, does have a variety of housing types with apartments, town homes, duplexes and public housing. One question to address today is how to adapt to increased demand for density without losing more of the single-family houses that contribute to the character of the neighborhood? How do we keep the spacious feel and unique streetscape in-tact?
Link to video of Leon Eplan:
Link to APCA Presents “An Evening with Leon Eplan and Tom Branch”https://vimeo.com/15067550
SOME NOTED ARCHITECTS WHOSE WORK IS IN ANSLEY PARK