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28 Comments

  1. 1

    Bfresident

    What is the racetrac at Caldwell and Dresden?!?

  2. 2

    Thomas Porter

    What a great and comprehensive viewpoint, many speak to details. I hope this holistic philosophy is soon embraced by our City leaders.

  3. 4

    Sally Eppstein

    Thank you Terrell for writing such a great article! I could not agree with you more. One other congested area with a ton of new development also next to Brookhaven is by the Buckhead Marta and Phipp on Roxboro. Roxboro and North Driud Hill Rd are going to become extremely congested.

  4. 5

    Bob Sorrentino

    Thank you for the article. I’ve had the good fortune of living in some fairly nice areas throughout my life. One thing they all had in common were great location with careful zoning. Seeing the current trend, I would add that diversification of land use will minimize bubble risks, just as it would with a stock portfolio. 45% of Brookhaven’s housing stock is multifamily, as found by the Comprehensive Plan. It may be prudent to pause for a second to determine what we think the balance should be.

  5. 6

    Tom Reilly

    Right there with you, Tom!! Terrell, you have just “set the standard” for us all!! “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” If that’s good enough for Albert Einstein, it’s good enough for me. We’re here in Brookhaven to do OUR best, not soebody else’s best.–Tom Reilly

  6. 7

    Kim

    Terrell – very thoughtful editorial. I have known and loved Brookhaven since the mid-Eighties. Then, it was not what it was in the Seventies. In the Nineties, it became something different once again with Post Brookhaven Apartments being the harbinger of things to come. In the late Nineties and 2000s we saw Village Place and Town Brookhaven in parallel to unprecedented infill housing. The drive to incorporation was, in part, a response to the sense by some in the community that DeKalb County was going to ruin Brookhaven with a patchwork of multi-family and live-work-play sites. I have seen an unprecedented rise in engagement by our community in defining its planning values and envisioning its future. It will remain contentious, for sure, until a few more precedent-setting decisions come. In the meantime, I remain optimistic about the future because of the engagement of thoughtful and committed neighbors such as Terrell Carstens. Thanks for all your hard work and tireless volunteering for the community’s benefit.

  7. 8

    Eric Robert

    Brookhaven needs to embrace the fact it is now an intown neighborhood. And while this means density in some areas this should happen so that we can disturb less land and thus protect existing low density residential and greenspace. A priority should be channeling the growth to sites where there is little to no tree cover like the numerous overlarge surface parking lots dominated developments. Bottom line all of Metro Atlanta needs to start accommodating growth more efficiently. Accommodating growth through sprawl is bad for our tree canopy, bad for the environment and bad for congestion.

  8. 9

    Brokenhaven

    Great insight. Brookhaven will soon be known as a great place to be from. In D 4 We used to be a great neighborhood just off the beaten path yet minutes to pretty much anywhere in the city. We had trees, manageable traffic, lots less crime and the stench of the political elite was at least miles away in Decatur.

    Other than a pretty good PD, we have created a new political elite, unfettered growth, higher taxes, terrible traffic and we still have the ones in Decatur on our dime too.

  9. 10

    Jennifer

    Oh Eric,
    You give me hope and then you take it away. Many cities have suburban neighborhoods that are adjoining the city limits and they are not high density. We are not in the city, there is MidTown, Peachtree Battle, Buckhead, and Lenox/Lindbergh between us and the city. There is no reason we have to think of ourselves as an urban area. Yes, we can have some smart development where there are empty or under used commercial development but as I have said many times, what makes us desirable is that we are not Buckhead, Lenox, Lindberg and if we keep it up we wont be able to say that, and we will just be known as North Lenox, with lots of under utilized high density over growth.

  10. 11

    Karen Dernavich

    Terrel l, great article! I couldn’t agree more.

  11. 12

    D-4

    D-4 definitely has not reaped the benefits like other parts of the city. Our quality-of-life has gone down quite a bit.

  12. 13

    Kerry

    When a property in Brookhaven is purchased there should be no expectation of rezoning or getting a variance. City Hall has got to defend our standards.
    Great article, Terrell! I appreciate you.

  13. 14

    bldvl89

    Thank God there are residents in our neighborhood like Terrell who do “get it,” who do have a truly comprehensive view of what is going around us, and whose only agenda is to actually protect that which makes Brookhaven what it is – its neighborhoods!

  14. 15

    Kim

    How so? I’ve live in D4 in the 80’s and now again since 2002 and that hasn’t been my experience. The primary differences I’ve seen over the decades in D4 is the creation of Lenox Park, a few small, single family residential projects near NDH and a lot of infill housing (mostly under DeKalb’s tenure in planning and zoning). A few businesses have turned over on Buford Hwy (still miss the DD and Lawrence’s!). Our schools have continued a long-term trend to higher performance in spite of horrific neglect by DeKalb Board of Ed and our community. The single biggest negative I can site is the traffic on Roxboro and to a lesser degree NDH. This is the result of the highrise and employment center created by the Buckhead Coalition and City of Atlanta. Why so glum? Overall, and in spite of some fancy-pants-ness, D4 is an even better place to live than I knew in 1985-92 and it was cool then.

  15. 16

    Kim

    Eric, hypothetically, would you label West Paces Ferry Rd area an “intown” neighborhood? Not to be glib but I use this example when it comes to zoning, land use, and traffic management because West Paces Ferry Rd has long been a problem artery in intown commuting and somehow has remained a residential street. 🙂

  16. 17

    Kim

    I also use the example of Virginia Avenue and N. Highland … that intown neighborhood somehow has retained its primarily residential character far longer than Brookhaven has had to manage so far. There are many examples and I think it boils down to the vision and values of each individual. Our officials will either be deferential to the current residents or to what they envision the future residents to be. This is what I am watching for in the current debates on land use, zoning, and transportation planning. I think it is obvious that the majority of the current residents are committed to keeping the character of the area as residential. I also think it is obvious that there will be some marginal changes to higher density in very selected spaces. The key for me is that we as a body/community are explicit in our vision as a residential area and demand deliberate governance towards such goals by our officials.

  17. 18

    Eric Sven

    Jennifer and Kim I am very confused by your comments. I thought i made it clear that the higher density (what ever that level is) should be limited to “some areas” “so that we can distrub less land and thus protect existing low density residential and greenspace.” So yes Kim West Paces Ferry Rd is “intown” and low density and just down the street is the very high density of Buckhead.
    What I’m saying is that there is a place for Higher Density Development and a place for Low Density Development. Ansley Park next to Midtown is another example. Granted I’m not looking for the High Densities of Buckhead and Midtown at the MARTA station or in other designated spots currently dominated by surface parking lots that are in Brookhaven.
    As to the majority of the current residents being committed to keeping the characther of the area as residential. What area? All of Brookhaven? Already Brookhaven has the high density of the Perimeter Center inside 285 in DeKalb. Lenox Park has significant Office Space. Apartments are residential. Buford Highway is, well its Buford Highway, I like the diversity and unique eating and shopping choices though there is too much asphalt. Or is the area Peachtree Road. Because I think the majority of people would agree the small section of Peachtree Road that is in Brookhaven is not what it should be. And we shouldn’t be redeveloping it with strip malls but with things like the latest MARTA proposal. Though that should be the density limit and everything should step down in density from there in that area.

  18. 19

    Kim

    Hi Eric. I think you and I are basically agreeing with one another. The reason I bring up West Paces Ferry Rd is because it was not (will never be) widened in response to load. That is not the likely fate of NDH, for example, in Brookhaven’s future. The current load backs up virtually the entire segment between Peachtree and Buford during evening rush hour(s). This segment of NDH is under pressure and that pressure will increase. In our scenario, I don’t see the planning effort posturing towards maintaining NDH as two lanes and I don’t see the neighborhoods binding together to ensure that happens. Contrast that with West Paces Ferry Rd where the pressure is ignored and it has and will remain a two lane, residential road. The homeowners of Heights, Fields, Lenox Park, HillsDale, Deveraux, Pine Hills, Cross Keys and a few smaller ones need to start acting like we have common interests or get ready for 3 to 4 lanes on NDH’s full length in Brookhaven.

  19. 20

    Katie

    Plans are for 2 southbound lanes from Peachtree to Briarcliff already.

  20. 21

    Chad

    Eric,

    Your confusion over our community’s goals and visions isn’t your fault. Guiding our vision requires tactical specificity, not wandering platitudes about high density here and there. We are very focused on NextDoor, our neighborhood listservs and individual emails. We then take that very organized, and well prepared, vision to our elected officials, Planning Commission and neighborhood thought leaders.

    To date, the 2 new applications on Dresden are being fiercely contested while we offer agreeable, alternative solutions with our opposition. The MARTA Citizen Review Board is engaging with MARTA for lower densities, even lower than they currently offer along with many other points. We are far from an agreeable solution.

    A new Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District with a Sub Area III has been offered with building heights no higher than 3 stories along Dresden. Several changes to the Code of Ordinances have been suggested and outlined clearly. We hope to embed those changes now. Waiting for character area studies only prolongs the damage being done to our stream buffers, on street parking and quality of life.

    We are demanding a sewer impact study from MARTA because Drew Valley and District 4 will feel the effects of the overburdened sewer demand in their basements. Traffic and Sewer are the only quantifiable costs associated with overdevelopment. Hope you’re listening SoBro. After rezoning you will be pitted against a government organization with a $600M budget (with a $500M operating loss) and the cause of the problem OR an underfunded DeKalb County Sewer Department. Check this link for a very timely example of Peachtree Creek’s future.

    http://www.cbs46.com/story/22175327/50000-gallons-of-raw-sewage-spills-into-dekalb-county-creek

    Phenomal article, by the way, Terrell. The list of developments can be overwhelming, but with hers, and others, leadership we are taking it one bite at a time.

  21. 22

    Chad

    Here are a few more links to drive the point home. Overdevelopment and sewer spills are connected.

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/family-says-sewage-spills-may-be-making-them-sick/54009974

  22. 23

    Jennifer

    Our local governments are starting to see what the cost is when you allow development that exceeds the infrastructure capacity. It is very expensive and the tax payers will pay more since they developed first. I hope we are not in the same boat in the next couple of years: http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/local-governments-struggle-to-prevent-floods/nrQy9/

  23. 24

    Eric Sven

    Chad, sorry you have difficulty with reading comprehension. The term was meant to drive home the point that I also believe the low density neighborhoods need to be protected but that the Peachtree Corridor can co-exist with the LDR neighborhoods off of Dresden. And there you go again throwing around the $500M operating loss figure. Its at best a misleading figure since of course the 1% sales tax is and has always been a fundamental part of the MARTA budget. Just like the costs to build and maintain our road system is funded by far more than tolls. But I do agree that DeKalb needs to upgrade the sewer system, hardly a revelation, that has to happen with or without new development. Perhaps instead of trying to pass a 1% sales tax for paving roads we should be looking at a 1% sales tax to fix the sewer system and/or levy impact fees for the additional capacity needed. But that certainly isn’t the entire cost, since with or without new development the sewer line in question needs to be upgraded.

  24. 25

    Eric Sven

    Kim, good points. Ashford Dunwoody also faces the threat because it also gets severely backed up because of all of the commuting to and from the Perimeter Center. Personally I think adding lanes will merely result in more cut through. When a corridor is no longer offers a time saving people alter their patterns, thus the saying you can’t pave your way out of congestion. #InducedDemand.

  25. 26

    Chad

    $91 Million of revenue bonds issued by the Metro Atlanta Transportation Authority without a vote is different than voting on a 1% sales tax.

    The mere fact they issue taxpayer obligated bonds outside of the public’s purview is why we continue this conversation. Public roads are funded through general obligation bonds.

    Mass transit would never garner the type support at the ballot box required to alleviate their $500 million operating loss (i.e. losses from operations.) They get $150m revenue from fares. They spend $600M.

  26. 27

    Eric Robert

    They get 150m largely from the fare gate. But any reasonable individual will knows that the 1% sales tax represents the bulk of their revenue to fund their operations and capital expenditures. Its was that way over 30 years ago when it was approved, then when it was renewed and today. Claiming the $500 million somehow reflects poor management or an unsustainable system is ridiculous. And that is exactly what you are doing. By your definition every public entity or entity providing a public service is unsustainable.
    The Bond issue you are now raising is a different issue from your use of the misleading $500 million loss figure) Bonds are the financing vehicle for the future revenue streams (MARTA’s are fully secured by the 1% sales tax revenue stream – http://commuting.blog.ajc.com/2015/10/27/moodys-upgrades-marta-bond-ratings/) . Roads are funded by a whole host of taxes, ranging from sales taxes, property taxes and zoning requirements. And unlike MARTA roads don’t even pay for their police. And GDOT and perhaps local jurisdictions use bonds to finance operations. I’m not certain why you feel a General Obligation bond makes them better. But this really seems to be going off in a direction that has very little to do with what we want to see developed in Brookhaven.

  27. 28

    Kathy Forbes

    Great commentary Terrell. Thank you a million times over for the countless hours you dedicate to “keeping an eye on things” and to building a better Brookhaven.

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