Brookhaven, GA, July 5, 2016 – Commentary by Sylvia Moore – Living around the Ashford Dunwoody Rd. area for most of my life, I have seen many new projects “transform” the area. The old DeKalb Housing Authority Apartment complex was razed along Johnson Ferry Rd. to make way for houses and apartment homes including the Brookleigh development, Ashford Parkside, Ashford Hearthside…the list continues. And are these for the betterment of the community? In some cases I would have to say yes, but in most cases I question that.
What is particularly disturbing to me is the new Ashford Apartments project on Ashford Dunwoody Rd. across from Blackburn Park, slated for more than 40 townhome units. Another Brookhaven area project where the land has been completely stripped of its trees. Not a single one left.
My gripe isn’t that with the popularity of Brookhaven and the surrounding area we see growth, but we are continually seeing developers opting to pay their way in to compliance because they exceed the number of trees they can take down and still comply with the city tree ordinance. And the city lets them do it.
Using the method of alternate compliance – paying to get the approval to strip the land of all of the trees – is at best a loophole that must be closed and at worst a way for developers to “pay-to-play”. And developers always say, and the Brookhaven city government sings along, “we will replace what we take out.”
How many new developments have we seen in Brookhaven where they are trucking in 150 foot, 200-year-old trees? Zero. What we get in return are 4 and 5 inch caliper trees that in many cases do not make it to maturity because either they are not cared for properly throughout the long-term or they are poorly sited.
Where will it end? Will Brookhaven continue to become another governing authority that opts to accept “green” in the form of money over “green” in the form of trees? I think we are seeing the answer to those questions front and center.
We can do better.
The question is “when” and “what will be left when that time comes?”.
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