Brookhaven, GA, July 15, 2016 – by Trey Benton – The City of Brookhaven and Sycamore Consulting held two Character Area Study kick-off meetings Thursday, a study intended to add specifics to areas identified in the 2034 Comprehensive Plan the City adopted in 2014. During Thursday morning’s meeting held at St. Martin’s, about 50 attendees showed and at the evening meeting, about 75 people attended. The Comprehensive Plan Character Areas lay out the vision, goals, appropriate land uses, and implementation strategies for Brookhaven’s neighborhood and districts.
Community Development Director, Ben Song explained the study has many benefits to City residents as well as the City Staff, City Council and the Boards. He said once this study is complete and the resident participants have laid out how they would like to see the City approach development in these areas, it will serve as a guide moving forward. “This is for us to come together to put it on paper so Staff has the guidelines to follow,” said Song. “…and then we can make the proper recommendations.”
Kristine Dederick, Principal at Sycamore Consulting, Inc. and Jeff Hendrick with Rosser, the Project Manager on the Study, gave an overview of the process, an explanation of the Comprehensive Plan and why this study is so important. “We want to hear from the residents what they want,” said Dederick. “And where they want it to be.”
A number of residents offered their feedback and suggestions. Mike Elliot, a Historic Brookhaven Resident, said he hopes the plan will yield a “reasonable understanding of expectations.” Other comments from the crowd included concerns over the path the City has been going down since inception in terms of development and suggestions of where they would like for it to head moving forward.
“Brookhaven is highly sought after, we all know that, it’s a great place,” said Hampton Hall resident Mary Ellen Brigham. “But there has got to be some reins that are pulled in before it isn’t such a great place anymore and people are more up in arms than they already are.”
Some of the items attendees said they would like solved are:
- Tree preservation and protection
- Appropriate Zoning in appropriate locations
- Appropriate Land Use
- Emphasis on Parks and Greenspace
During the meeting Mayor John Ernst announced the City will be voting in early August to approve a six month moratorium on new rezoning applications that increase density. “We are stopping the train for a six month period,” said Ernst. “This gives time to get through the Character Area Study and in to the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite.”
Ernst indicated the city would be voting on the item on August 2nd, but later said it may be as late as August 9th. He said legal aspects prevent the City from doing an even longer moratorium. Ernst also made it clear this moratorium will not affect applications already filed, nor would it stop property owners who do not require rezoning from applying for, and if approved, proceeding with, development.
According to the City, the Comprehensive Plan 2034 documents the long-term vision for Brookhaven’s future. “The plan is built from the ground-up, with the community’s desires and goals for the City’s future as the basis for the implementation program that follows,” says the Comp. Plan preamble. “The long-term vision for Brookhaven is to be a model community that preserves what makes it great—including its people, neighborhoods, parks, tree canopy, and accessibility—while acknowledging its role as a premier community within the Atlanta Region.”
The Character Area Map identifies 13 unique areas of the city. Of those, 8 are residential in nature and 5 are community activity centers of varying intensity envisioned as central locations for jobs, entertainment, mixed use, and a live-work-play environment.
The Character Area Study Scope of Work includes a series of workshops and/or charrettes that will be facilitated by Sycamore. “Each meeting should provide an educational component to the general public on the City’s comprehensive planning process efforts to date and strategies on how to refine the existing policies/recommendations identified for each character area,” says the City. “The consultant will have an ultimate goal of ensuring involvement from the community through a facilitator-guided process, leading to the development of the final character area recommendations.”
There are two more kick-off meetings scheduled for this month and will take place on Tuesday, July 19. A morning session will be held from 10 a.m.-noon at Briarwood Park Recreation Center located at 2235 Briarwood Way NE, and an evening session will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Brookhaven City Hall located at 4362 Peachtree Road.
In August, Dederick said the Charettes would begin for the specific Character Areas. Some of those areas have been combined, Dederick explained, that have “like” characteristics.
Below are the Character areas that will be the focus of the upcoming Charettes. Additional information can be found on the project website at brookhavencharacterareastudy.com
Much more in the video attached to this post.