Brookhaven, GA – During the December 10 Brookhaven City Council meeting upset Ashford Park residents sounded off about an ongoing zoning dispute in their neighborhood. Most of the citizen’s outrage centered around the lifting of a stop work order for a new home on 2802 Ashford Road.
Residents believe the project has been built at least 13 feet too close to the road, a violation of the average setback rule. Mayor J. Max Davis met with nearby neighbors on December 1st. Most were stunned to find out the Community Development Director, Susan Canon, lifted the stop work order on December 2nd.
Resident Todd Fisher asked, “I’m just wondering what happened to the communication that you guys said that we were going to receive? Because as far as I know, all of our neighbors were very surprised that the stop work order was lifted, so what happened?”
Ronnie Mayer, acting president of the Ashford Park Civic Association told the Council, “I got this nice, little newsletter here. Very pretty, looks exciting. But, it’s communistic. It only says the good stuff, what ya’ll want it to say. You’re not telling the neighbors about how you sold out Ashford Park.”
The Ashford Park homeowners also took issue with a letter the Mayor and Council sent to them on December 5. The letter mentioned a task force had been organized to review permit and inspection processes. The letter listed members of the task force; Mayor J. Max Davis, District 2 Councilman Jim Eyre, City Manager Marie Garrett and Community Development Director, Susan Canon.
Residents Dan Maloy and Carl Myers both questioned those task force appointments and recommend a third party be considered. In response to the appointments, Todd Verino explained to the Council, “It’s like putting the fox in the henhouse.”
Verino went on to say he was extremely disappointed with the position the Mayor and Council took in the letter. Verino said city officials have used a “spiderweb of tactics” to reach and defend their opinion on 2802 Ashford Road.
“The people that voted for this city, that thought we were going to get more code enforcement, thought we were going to have more control over this, it didn’t happen,” said Verino.
During a Q&A conversation with the Mayor, Canon defended her decision to lift the stop work order without informing or seeking permission from elected officials.
Canon: “Yes Sir.”
Mayor Davis: “And we cannot interfere with that decision?”
Canon: “Yes Sir, that’s correct.”
Gary Schneeberg recommended Canon be reprimanded. “This has been very emotional, moral issue for our community. It’s been going on for several weeks, if not months, and I’m very disappointed that you [Canon] would not even brief your leaders on this situation,” said Schneeberg.
In an on camera interview following the Council meeting, Mayor Davis offered his opinion on the comments made by citizens. Mayor Davis told the Post, “The comments ranged the gamut from reason and rational, and them some of them got a little bit of hyperbole and accusatory, things that are really inappropriate. We understand some of the frustration of the residents on that particular property because we share some of those frustrations.”
Mayor Davis added the decision was difficult and city officials are still trying to resolve the issue at 2802 Ashford Road. Davis said, “I think in the end folks will understand that we’re doing what we can with what we inherited and with the powers that we have and the powers that we don’t have.”