Code proposal would raise the bar for mixed use development

Photo looking down the center of Avalon at Alpharetta. Photo shows four-story buildings on the left and right sides. Buildings have commercial space on the ground floor with apartments on the stories above. The project represents a mixed use development. (staff photo)

Henry County commissioners will consider changes to the unified land development code (ULDC) on Tuesday, May 18. The proposed changes would apply to mixed use development within the highway corridor overlay district.

Update: board members adopted the code revisions on May 18.

Henry County adopted the highway corridor overlay district in March 2017. Since then, staff have recommended routine edits to update its standards. The overlay applies to property alongside all major roadways in unincorporated Henry County.

Before voting on the proposed changes, the county will hold a public hearing. The meeting starts at 6:30 pm at the county admin building. Board meetings resumed in-person earlier this month.

Mixed Use Development

The proposed code revisions encourage better integration of commercial and residential uses within a mixed use development. The code revisions apply to commercial zoned property within the overlay district. The property also requires a future land use map category that supports residential development. This includes residential categories and mixed use.

The proposed code revisions include the following:

  • All single-family residential development would require a min. home size of 2,500 square feet with at least a two-car garage,
  • All townhome development would require a min. home size of 2,000 sq ft with at least a two-car garage, and
  • Stand-alone apartment or condo structures, as well as duplexes, are prohibited.

The revisions encourage mixed-use structures with both commercial and apartment space. Apartment or condo units shall be limited to Class-A modern, luxury, resort-style, interior corridor access only. The average heated square footage of apartment units within the mixed-use building shall be a minimum of 1,500 square feet.

Commercial space shall be limited to C-1 and C-2 uses not otherwise prohibited by the overlay district. Each business can be a max of 30,000 sq ft. The code revision also prohibits outside storage.

Finally, developments shall include monument entrances with monument-based signage, masonry columns and boulevard entrances.

Related: Henry County is considering changes to the future land use map along East Lake Parkway.

Example Developments

Though not in Henry County, several developments in metro Atlanta can provide an example of vertical integration within a mixed use development. Perhaps the best known example is the Battery Atlanta beside the Braves stadium. Another project frequently referenced by planners is Avalon in Alpharetta.

Both projects feature a combo of ground-floor shops and restaurants with apartment units upstairs. Their design improves walkability and features a wide central pedestrian walkway. As a general rule of thumb, parking lots are located to the rear of store fronts. This allows the main entrance to front the pedestrian plaza.

No existing development in Henry County has similar standards. Most feature large surface parking lots and lack walkability. They are a product of their time when built. Future developments can provide new opportunities to build a walkable environment and better sense of community.

Featured image shows the Avalon development in Alpharetta. Photo credit C. Carte. The article was updated on May 20 to correct the applicability of the code revisions.

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About Clayton 943 Articles
Clayton Carte is the founder and owner of MHF News. Since 2017, he has written over 900 articles sharing local updates with the community.