Brookhaven, GA, December 28, 2015 – by Trey Benton – Aside from Public Safety, Brookhaven’s Zoning Code plays one of the most important roles in how each of the City’s residents live, i.e., what our neighborhoods look like, what growth and change occurs and how it all fits together in each character area identified in the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
Brookhaven has embarked on a complete Zoning Code Rewrite, an initiative Community Development Director, Ben Song describes as “a fifteen month process (including public hearings), to review and rewrite the City’s Zoning Code.”
Originally, DeKalb County’s Zoning Code was brought over when the City of Brookhaven was formed. Since then, Brookhaven Officials have been making periodic tweaks. The Zoning Code review will include going through all aspects of the Code and making modifications in order to arrive at a Brookhaven specific Zoning Code of Ordinances.
“Brookhaven will be a national model for a walkable, urban community that preserves its unique character and history of neighborhoods, parks, and natural assets while welcoming higher density activity nodes that support transit use, biking, community hubs, sense of place, and diversity of residents and businesses.”
-Brookhaven Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement
Kirk Bishop, VP of Chicago based Duncan Associates and acting Project Manager, is working with the volunteer Zoning Rewrite Steering Committee and the Community Development Department to tackle this all important task.
The Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Steering Committee members are:
- Stan Segal, Planning Commission Chair
- Jeff O’Connell, Zoning Board of Appeals
- Jack Honderd, Resident/Builder
- Richard Lauth, Attorney
- Alan Cablik, Builder/Developer
- Kevin Quirk, Attorney
- Alex Michaud, Resident
- Tim Nama, Builder/Developer
- Mike Busher, Builder/Developer
- Donnie Reed, Real Estate
- Keith Linch, Attorney
During the City’s first three years, managing growth and change while preserving what many new and long-time residents moved here for in the first place, has proven to be a challenge, however this is not a unique issue to Brookhaven. Managing growth and change, while protecting individual property rights and preserving the area’s character, is a delicate balancing act metro-wide and is often the hottest of hot-button issues.
Back in October, the Rewrite Committee held initial “small group listening sessions”. The results of those sessions were collected and an overall conceptual direction for the zoning rewrite project was established and a report was created. (Embedded below)
According to the report, feedback has been received on a wide variety of topics including:
- The need for a more clearly organized and understandable ordinance
- An ordinance that provides plain language
- Better administration and application of the Zoning Ordinance
- Close linkage to the City’s Comprehensive Plan
- Additions and tweaks to zoning district classifications and criteria and to create more zoning classifications
- Need for ways to manage nonconformities – legacy and new
- The Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay and how it relates – its role
- Parking, transportation and traffic
- Perimeter CID goals and initiatives
- Character and appearance
- Impervious cover and stormwater
- Miscellaneous (see report)
A public meeting concerning this effort will take place Thursday, January 21, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lynwood Park Community Center, 3360 Osborne Road. The City says the purpose of the meeting will be, “To give the public an introduction to the goals of the rewrite and provide an opportunity for input on specific areas of interest.”
A website specific to the Zoning Code Rewrite has been established here, and interested individuals can sign up to receive updates.