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Howell Station pushes back against suburban-style gas station, considers future of 31 acres near Bellwood Quarry

Atlanta City Councilman Ivory Young Jr. is urging northwest Atlanta residents not to fret over the design of a planned convenience store near the future Westside Reservoir Park conflicting with the vision of the Atlanta Beltline. And he's asking them to consider the bigger picture for Howell Station – a future tied to 31 acres of nearby land.
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? Young, who represents Howell Station, told a group of about two dozen residents last Thursday that, while plans were still moving forward for the proposed gas station at the corner of Marietta Boulevard and West Marietta Street, the business owner would be required to follow Beltline Overlay District guidelines.
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? The overlay encompasses roughly a half mile on either side of the Beltline corridor, running through 45 neighborhoods, including Howell Station. It calls for urban design standards, such as placing parking lots to the rear of properties, wide sidewalks, and more. 
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? Young's announcement came as a surprise for those in attendance, who reacted with applause. There had been much talk that Young had recently introduced legislation which would allow the gas station owner to ignore certain parts of the overlay – specifically, regarding the placement of gas pumps. Neighbors had hoped the pumps would be installed farther from the street. The councilman said he would instead recommend during an upcoming Neighborhood Planning Unit meeting that the proposed amendment not go forward. Young was not immediately available for comment. 
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? “To your benefit … it will be (the business owner’s) obligation to meet all the expectations of the Beltline Overlay,” Young said.
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? The councilman then asked the group to take a look at two pieces of nearby property just east of the future Westside Reservoir Park, which he said will be tied inextricably to the future of Howell Station, a residential neighborhood on the border of an area that has long been predominantly industrial but it is evolving.
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? ??? Currently zoned as light industrial, the side-by-side properties include a 19-acre parcel owned by a commercial gravel and paving company and 12 acres owned by city of Atlanta Watershed Management.
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? “Those 31 acres are a significant boundary of the Beltline … this whole area has really been inundated with heavy industrial use for many years, so it’s our hope we can get past the heavy industrial phase and begin to understand the future of development around this beautiful neighborhood,” Young said.
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? Young went on to say that the owner of the gravel business… is interested in selling and rezoning his property, and “of course, his property has greater value if it’s zoned mixed use.” Indeed, the property's marketing materials show its potential for a future residential development and touts its proximity to Bellwood Quarry. 
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? Stan Williams, one of three NAI Brannen Goddard brokers marketing the parcel, could not discuss specifics but says they've received multiple offers for the parcel and seen different uses proposed.   
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? "It's the largest development site on the Beltline," Williams says. "It overlooks the Westside Reservoir Park. It's got a lot of potential going forward. It's one of the most exciting parcels on the Beltline."
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? Following Thursday’s meeting, Historic Howell Station resident Jarvis Läkemäker said he was curious to see how it would unfold. But, talks about the distant future aside, he said he and fellow community members were happy with the more immediate outcome of the recent gathering.
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? “There was a proposal out there that wasn’t in line with the Beltline Overlay and not in line with what the neighborhood wanted, and the business owner recognized that, and it seems like the councilman has reversed course on this proposed legislation that would invalidate the overlay,” Läkemäker said. “We came ready for a fight tonight, and it turns out we didn’t get one. Kudos to our councilman for recognizing what the neighborhood wanted.”
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? Fellow Historic Howell Station member Chris Alasa said the matter seemed a microcosm for future development around the Beltline in Atlanta.
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? “I think the conversation we had here is pretty much in line with the greater, broader conversation about the Beltline and the city,” Alasa said. “I think what we’re doing is a small example of the greater conversation about development near the Beltline in general.”
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?Additional reporting by Thomas Wheatley



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