Brookhaven, GA – Continuing coverage of a story first reported by The Brookhaven Post:
During a Special Called meeting Friday morning at the Brookhaven City Hall in Dunwoody, public comments centered around one house under construction in the Ashford Park neighborhood.
Upset neighbors said the house, located at 2802 Ashford Road, is violating the average set back rule. They believe the home was built around 13 feet too close to the street.
Ashford Park Resident, Todd Varino, is worried the zoning battle in his neighborhood, if not corrected, could set a bad precedent. Varino said, “If you don’t do something now, it’s only going to get worse. You’re going to get on a slippery slope.”
Another resident, John McGrew is surprised Brookhaven does not have more control over zoning issues. McGrew told the Council, “There was the one reason in the end that we decided to support the idea of the City of Brookhaven and that was zoning. To get local control of zoning and to put an end to the insanity.”
Meredith Sasser asked if the project in question is a systemic failure and would like to know what citizens can do to help. “I think we’re putting the faith in you, but we’re also here to say we expect things,” said Sasser.
The couple building the new Ashford Rd. house, Paul and Mary Bierbusse, attended Fridays meeting, but did not speak. Their attorney, Doug Dillard of Weissman Nowack, Curry and Wilco, filed a variance to ask that his clients be allowed to build in accordance with the current plan. Dillard said, “These people have been taken advantage of. It’s costing them thousands of dollars each day this goes by. We’ve got two stop work orders, the retaining wall and one on the house. We ask that both of them be lifted.”
Brookhaven’s City Attorney, Tom Kurrie informed the council they could not take any action on the issue at this time. In a written opinion, Kurrie explains the houses on either side of the home are in different residential zoning districts under the Brookhaven Code of Ordinance. His opinion is “that the averaging requirement does not apply.” (see attached)
Mayor J. Max Davis told upset residents that the zoning map Brookhaven adopted from Dekalb County has lots of errors and mistakes.
“We’ve got lots of things we’ve got to be looking at, one of them is, just what is our zoning map. That’s not something I ever thought we would ever have to deal with and it just came up yesterday. Wow, we’ve got lots of issues that we don’t even know about, that we’ve got to be more vigilant about,” said Davis.
Ashford Park resident, Carl Myers told The Post, “If they follow with this train of thought, it just shows unbelievably poor leadership from the City of Brookhaven to adopt a map that was inaccurate.”
“The right thing to do is often the most difficult thing to do,” said District 2 Councilman Jim Eyre. “I think we do need to take a more active role and what we have heard here today is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think anyone here is against growth and development. I think that at some point we need to look at why we were voted in as a City – and that’s to provide local control which wasn’t being provided by DeKalb County. We’re severely lacking in that effort right now. We need to step up and put better processes and procedures in place going down the road.”
Rising to the center of the dispute is a controversy over zoning maps which could eventually be the deciding factor on how this dispute progresses. A Dekalb county map shows all lots on Ashford Road are zoned R-100. Brookhaven’s GIS map shows one lot (2808), located next door to the new construction is zoned as R-85.
Next Tuesday, November 26th, the City of Brookhaven will hold a City Council Work Session at 4:30 and a Regular City Council Meeting at 7:00. On the agenda is Resolution (ID # 1184): A Resolution to Conduct a Review of the Zoning Map.
The Brookhaven Post will continue to follow this story as more details develop.