Author: Melissa Weinman

MARTA ridership up in Perimeter

A budget surplus at MARTA this year will allow for more frequent train service, MARTA General Manager Keith Parker said at a joint luncheon of the Sandy Springs/Perimeter and Dunwoody chambers of commerce on April 8. “Because we’ve been able to find some fiscal relief, we’re investing some of those dollars back to customers,” Parker said. “We’re practically doubling train frequency during the day.” The change will take place in May. Trains that now arrive every 15 minutes will arrive every 10 to 12 minutes. Trains that now arrive every 10 minutes will arrive every 5 to 7 minutes, Parker said. Parker also reported that ridership at stations in the Perimeter area is up. From July 2013 to February 2014, average weekday rail entries increased over the same months the previous year, he said. The bump in ridership was 1.2 percent at Medical Center, 2.3 percent at North Springs, 3.9 percent at Sandy Springs and 7.3 percent at Dunwoody. He said State Farm, which recently announced plans to locate its headquarters in Dunwoody, is “using our Dunwoody station as a catalyst.” “They’re working with us to make that station as free-flowing and friendly to their campus as possible,” Parker said. Development is also planned at other MARTA stations around Atlanta, including Brookhaven-Oglethorpe, Avondale, Edgewood-Candler Park and King Memorial.  Parker said the goal is for these transit-oriented developments to include...

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Walgreens seeking approval to build on Peachtree Road

Walgreens is once again hoping to build a new pharmacy on Peachtree Road. For years, the company has been angling to open a store at the corner of Peachtree Road and Colonial Drive, but designs for the store have clashed with the area’s overlay zoning district. On March 19, Walgreens went before the city of Brookhaven for the first time with a new proposal, requesting nine variances to the city’s overlay requirements. The proposed Walgreens would be three stories tall and include space for the drugstore, office space and a two-story parking deck. The company asked for variances to the overlay district, including the requirement of having an entrance facing Peachtree and the requirement to screen a parking deck with ground-level retail. The Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals voted to defer the application for 60 days, asking for the applicant and neighbors to work together to try to reach a compromise. The Zoning Board of Appeals will review the application again on May 21. The Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance, an organization that advocates for the overlay district, argues that the property doesn’t have any special challenges that would merit variances to the overlay’s requirements. “The overlay is not a set of suggestions. It is zoning code,” said Kathy Forbes, a member of the BPCA. But Doug Dillard, an attorney representing the applicant, suggested that the overlay district is too...

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Steering committees driving Brookhaven’s future plans

Brookhaven officially kicked off work on four plans to create a vision for the future of the young city. Steering committees for the long-range plans – the Comprehensive Transportation Plan, the Parks & Recrecreation Master Plan, the Buford Highway Improvement Plan & Economic Development Strategy and the Comprehensive Plan – all met for the first time between March 21 and 27. The city of Brookhaven has hired consultants who will develop the plans in part using input from the public. Mayor J. Max Davis said planning is the next step in the city’s start-up. “This is part of that process – making sure the way we plan out our city’s roads, neighborhoods, parks, developments is vetted by our citizens, and the vision for what our city will be over next 5, 10, 20 years – will be a result of what our citizens want,” Davis said. Officials are finalizing a timeline for when the various plans are to be completed. The transportation plan, parks and recrecreation plan and the Buford Highway plan will all serve as addendums to Brookhaven’s comprehensive plan, which will be the last to be completed, said spokeswoman Dana Johnson. The first to get started was the Buford Highway plan. A steering committee and consultants will work to develop over the next five months a plan for the redevelopment of the three miles of Buford Highway...

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Graduation rates up at North Atlanta High

North Atlanta High School’s 2013 graduation rate was higher than the average for Atlanta Public Schools and the state of Georgia, Principal Gene Taylor reported. At a March 26 meeting of the North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools, Taylor said more than 80 percent of North Atlanta’s student body graduated in four years, compared with 71.5 percent in Georgia and 58.6 percent in Atlanta Public Schools. “We’re well above state and even above national average and we’re a Title I school,” Taylor said. “We’re doing more than getting the job done – we’re knocking the ball out of the park.” Taylor said North Atlanta’s graduation rates are especially high given that so many students live in poverty. “The most impressive news regarding North Atlanta High School’s 2013 four-year graduation rate may not be that we have one of the highest 2013 four-year graduation rates in the state, but that we are an urban, Title I school with over half of our students living at or below the poverty rate in 2013,” Taylor said in an email. Taylor said there often is a relationship between poverty and poor performance in school. “However, at North Atlanta High School, our students in the economically disadvantaged subgroup have a graduation rate higher than the average four-year graduation rate for APS, the state of Georgia and the nation,” Taylor said. Taylor also reported that...

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