Atlantic Station traffic settlement bittersweet

The good news in Home Park's fight with the city of Atlanta and mammoth development Atlantic Station is that one key street will be re-engineered to drastically reduce traffic flow.

To settle a lawsuit filed two years ago by State Street residents Cole Cowden and his wife, Kathy Boehmer, city planners agreed to build medians and remove turn lanes to restrict access to State Street from 16th Street. And Jacoby Development, the company building a 135-acre mixed-use project on the west side of the 17th Street bridge in Midtown, will also have to install larger sidewalks and speed humps to ease traffic on State Street, a residential neighborhood in the shadow of the under-construction development.

The bad news is that most of the other streets in Home Park won't receive similar traffic-easing fixtures.

"We view this negotiated settlement as a bittersweet victory for the residents of State Street, and a significant loss of protection for the other streets in north Home Park," Boehmer says.

State Street received protections other streets didn't because Boehmer and Cowden used their own money to wage a lengthy legal battle against the developer and the city.

The couple won the battle in May 2003, when a Fulton County Superior Court judge ruled that city planning officials exceeded their authority when they weakened zoning conditions that had protected the neighborhood from Atlantic Station's traffic.

The ruling gave Boehmer and Cowden the chance to put stronger traffic conditions in place, which is exactly what they've been pushing for since.

On July 14, Mayor Shirley Franklin finally approved the new, stronger traffic plan for State Street, which was hammered out by Boehmer, Cowden, their lawyers, city planners, lawyers for Jacoby, and representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The events as they've unfolded over the past three years never should have been allowed to happen in the first place," Boehmer says. Having to go to court "just to get the city of Atlanta to follow its own laws was an eye-opener."

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