Brookhaven, GA, December 18th – Brookhaven’s Mayor and City Council held an Emergency Meeting Wednesday to provide clarity to the intent of the stream buffer moratorium that was passed by the Mayor and Council on Tuesday, December 17, 2013.
The Meeting was held in the Pro-Shop at the Blackburn Tennis Center.
As it turns out, the resolution during Tuesday’s City Council Meeting caused issues with cases that were to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals during Wednesdays Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting.
The original Resolution placed a moratorium on ANY existing zoning variance applications that encroached in the 75 foot stream buffers. That resolution was rescinded.
After council discussion and advice from Interim City Attorney Tom Kurrie via speakerphone, Councilman Joe Gebbia read a new and improved Resolution into the record, which was then seconded and adopted.
The new Resolution has language that places a moratorium on any NEW variance applications that fall within the 75 foot stream buffer, however any existing application is exempt from the moratorium. The moratorium is effective midnight December 18th and is to end on or before January 23rd.
There were several cases on the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda that were to begin just moments after the new Resolution was adopted. At that meeting the city’s Community Development Director Susan Canon had to deny cases which sought encroachment in the 75 foot buffer, thereby placing the outcome squarely in the hands of the ZBA to decide.
UPDATE: 12/19 10:42 am – Explanation from Brookhaven’s City Attorney:
The ZBA was poised to vote on approving or declining variance requests with respect to Stream Buffers where it had no authority to do so. The only authority of the ZBA is to hear appeals of denial of the granting of an administrative variance by the Community Development Director. Each landowner having applied for a variance as of the time of moratorium has a vested right to the applicability of the City’s ordinances as of the moratorium. The purpose of the moratorium was to enable the City the time to determine if it wishes to modify its stream buffer ordinance prior to the submittal of any additional applications.
Back to the case at hand, to enable the City to proceed with applications in process which are covered by current ordinance as was its intent and consistent with previous moratoriums, the resolution had to be modified to clarify this intent. Finally, for the ZBA to have jurisdiction over the variance applications yesterday evening, the Community Development Director “denied an administrative variance” on all of the pending applications. With her denial, the matter was properly brought before the ZBA as appeals to her denials.
Let me know if you need any clarification.
Thompson Kurrie, Jr.
Coleman | Talley LLP
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More in the video attached to this story.