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Buckhead neighborhood battling bank building
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@neighbornewspapers.com
October 02, 2013 02:28 PM | 1434 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents of one Buckhead neighborhood say they will not back down in their efforts to alter plans for a bank they say is too large for the area and will worsen traffic congestion on West Paces Ferry Road.

Located at 77 E. Andrews Drive on the site of the former The Paces apartments, Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Bank plans to construct a branch with five drive-through windows and curb cuts on both streets, according to a report compiled for the August meeting of Special Public Interest District 9.

At the meeting, the board suggested removing at least two of these drive-throughs, but said Regions is “unwilling to comply” because the bank expects at least 5,300 transactions every month.

Though the city of Atlanta has already approved the site and building designs, neighbors said they will continue to fight the proposed model as well as the bank’s direct access to West Paces Ferry and plans to take down several mature hardwood trees.

E.T. Laird, who represents the South Tuxedo Park/Grant Estates neighborhood on Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit B, said he and his neighbors on Valley Road will not be able to turn left onto West Paces Ferry.

Laird’s neighbor, Graham Loomis, said the proposed curb cut is less than 100 yards from Valley.

“It’s a treacherous turn,” Loomis said. “Now with this added traffic, it will be virtually impossible to make a left-hand turn and fairly difficult to make a right-hand turn.”

Loomis and Laird also said they feel misled, saying they were both told in initial meetings the facility would solely be used as a wealth management office for high-income clients — a model that would encourage much less traffic than the full bank branch. They said they were not notified of the access point from West Paces Ferry until the SPI-9 presentation.

“Unless you were a zoning commissioner or a landscape architect, you would have never seen a curb cut on that [map],” Laird said.

After a meeting Sept. 23 with William Linginfelter, area president of Georgia Regions Bank, Laird said his concerns were heard but he does not feel like the bank will budge.

“We think there is a significant safety issue here,” he said. “In addition to making traffic in this neighborhood even worse than it already is, to have that kind of building as an entrance to [the] Buckhead Village is certainly not in keeping as to what we were told.”

Regions spokeswoman Evelyn Mitchell said the approved design will be a two-story, brick-and-stone building with the full-service branch on the first floor and associate offices on the second.

Mitchell said the meeting was an effort to hear resident concerns and pointed out some had already been addressed.

“In order to optimize traffic flow in and out of the office parking lot, the access point on West Paces Ferry Road has been altered from a full, traffic-light-controlled intersection to a right-turn-in, right-turn-out only [one],” she wrote in an email.

Mitchell said Regions anticipates opening the branch in the second half of 2014.
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