Litigation may be coming as Ashford Park residents continue to dispute zoning
Brookhaven, GA, March 20 – City of Brookhaven officials held a Special Called Meeting yesterday to discuss litigation issues. The issue at hand – striking settlement agreements with Ashford Park residents to end their zoning dispute with the city to avoid litigation.
The council passed two resolutions whereby they formalized details of their settlement offers and contemplated a moratorium on new permits in the Ashford Park area. City Attorney, Tom Kurrie, laid out the details of two settlement agreements. The first, a settlement between the city and Paul and Mary Bierbusse, would include a reimbursement for attorney fees and other costs up to $40,000 and a Certificate of Occupancy. Additionally, the Bierbusse’s would have to agree to release the city from any further liability concerning their property relating to this issue. The Bierbusse’s are building a home located at 2802 Ashford Road, a property that has been at the center of the Ashford Park zoning controversy.
The second settlement laid out by Kurrie was for several Ashford Park homeowners. In that agreement, the city agrees to pay up to $15,000 for attorney fees and other costs in addition to a $10,000 sum to be used by residents on either side of 2802 Ashford Rd. for landscape or fence screening. A provision would also be included whereby the owner of 2808 Ashford Rd., Maxine Robinson, would have her property returned to its previous zoning of R-100. Additionally, the Ashford Park citizens would have to agree to not pursue litigation challenging the validity of Brookhaven’s Zoning Map.
Doug Dillard, the Bierbusse’s attorney, said that earlier in the day his clients agreed to the details of their settlement with the city and were waiting on the outcome of the negotiations between the city and the Ashford Park group.
Linda Dunlavy, attorney for the Ashford Park group, said her clients were unable to accept the agreement offered by the city and would likely litigate the case.
The meeting was called to order at 3 PM and the mayor and city council immediately went into executive session to discuss litigation. During a lengthy break, Mayor J. Max Davis and Councilman Jim Eyre, along with the City Attorney, City Manager, and Community Development Director met behind closed doors with a few of the Ashford Park residents and Dunlavy. A private, brief meeting with the same city staff and officials also took place with Dillard.
The council went back into executive session and finally resumed the meeting just before 6 PM. The council voted unanimously in favor of the two settlement resolutions that gave both parties until Friday at 3 PM to consider and sign.
Since a settlement agreement was not officially reached yesterday, the council voted to defer authorizing the city to initiate the rezoning of 2808 Ashford Road. They also decided to strike from the agenda a moratorium on permits for residential construction in Ashford Park.
This zoning battle began back in November when residents complained that the Bierbusse’s home was being built too close to the street and claimed staff did not follow the average setback rule. A stop work order was then issued by city staff. Kurrie determined the setback rule did not apply in this case and the stop work order was lifted.
Ashford Park residents disagreed and began examining Brookhaven’s official zoning map. They uncovered a 59% error rate in just one section of their neighborhood. The city is conducting a full audit of Brookhaven’s zoning map at a reported sum of nearly $100,000.
The Brookhaven Post will continue to follow this story and update as new information is obtained.
~ Stephanie Miller contributed to this story.