Parks Huff

Parks Huff

WOODSTOCK – A prominent Marietta attorney has challenged proposed updates to the city of Woodstock’s Ridgewalk corridor code and city zoning map, delaying both the approval of updates and the end of a moratorium on development in the corridor.

Parks Huff, of the Marietta law firm Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli, informed the city of his challenge on Feb. 11, citing concerns that the changes to the proposed zonings could endanger his clients’ property rights.

Huff told the Tribune on Tuesday that he files a constitutional challenge with every application for development that he represents. But, he said, since the city has initiated the Ridgewalk code changes, which would result in zoning changes to existing properties, he had to file a separate challenge to have property rights concern on the record.

“All zoning does limit property rights, but the courts balance how much of that limitation is put on the property and whether it impacts the ability to develop or use the property or not,” he said. “The question will come down to whether the amended zoning map and amended zoning ordinance limits the utility of the property to the point where it deprives them of a constitutional right to their property use.”

Huff’s constitutional challenge specifically names Ridgewalk Holdings as the party at risk of harm. The company’s property is slated for a mixed-use project within a development anchored by Costco on Ridgewalk Parkway.

Huff’s letter introducing the challenge to the city indicates that Ridgewalk Holdings “has honored their part of the agreement,” referencing more than $500,000 in traffic improvements in the area and a donation of 2.1 acres for the extension of nearby Ridge Trail. Those improvements were conditions of a developments of regional impact approval from the Atlanta Regional Commission. Huff said Tuesday that the improvements were based upon an expected intensity of usage that could change as a result of the proposed amendments.

The letter continues that despite those agreements, the city’s proposed code updates could limit the size of buildings on that property arbitrarily.

City legal counsel declined to comment on the constitutional challenge on Wednesday, saying that the document would need to be further reviewed.

The changes to Ridgewalk’s code would oust the former form-based code and could include consistent streetscape elements for all projects, a points system for site plans, architectural requirements based on local feedback and requirements for pedestrian connectivity and trails. Small areas within the corridor would be designated for more neighborhood commercial, office and restaurant uses closer to Main Street and more flexible uses toward the Interstate 575 and Ridgewalk Parkway interchange.

Thomas is a government, business, crime and features reporter for the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger News. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University and currently lives in Kennesaw, Georgia.

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