Brookhaven, GA, October 5, 2016 – by Trey Benton – Joel Reed, Pulte’s Vice President of Operations and Land Acquisitions, told some 40 residents while attending Tuesday’s Briarwood Park Conservancy meeting, their plans to tear down The Terraces at Brookhaven and Northeast Plaza Apartments for a new development would likely be killed if they cannot work out a deal for access other than from Buford Highway. He said the land is too expensive and people who would want to buy homes in the $700,000 price range would want to avoid entering their new neighborhood via Buford Highway.
That statement by Reed was the “a-ha” moment for many in attendance who had been speculating Pulte’s sole motive for access through Briarwood Park was a way to avoid having an attachment to Buford Highway, whether through an address or through access. Pulte is asking members of the Conservancy to endorse their plans to create an access point through the park and swap approximately .403 acres with the City of Brookhaven to help with that effort.
Pulte indicates they were told by the City of Brookhaven Administrators that before they come to the City to ask for the “swap”of a swath of land approximately 50 feet wide located between the current Briarwood Field Condominiums and the Briarwood Park tennis court, they need to get support of the Briarwood Park Conservancy – or at least try to.
Briarwood Park Conservancy President Greg Trinkle told attendees, until there is a plan that is ready to go in front of the City, the Conservancy will not vote on a position. “We are an advocacy group on behalf of Briarwood Park with a mission of promoting public usage and to increase value for our community now and into the future,” Trinkle told The Post in an earlier interview. “Those fundamental principles should be the driving force behind any decisions made concerning Briarwood Park’s future.” He reiterated Tuesday the subject needs to be closely vetted with the community.
In return for the park land Pulte has their eye on, they will convey to the City of Brookhaven a strip of land “equal in size” located along the current land boundary between Briarwood Park and the Terraces at Brookhaven Apartments – in the area of the park’s swimming pool.
Pulte is also proposing:
- The City of Brookhaven will grant to Pulte and its successors and assigns (including future homeowners in the new community) a permanent and unrestricted access easement over an acrossthe private drive, referred to as “Briarwood Park Drive”, that leads from Briarwood Road to the Community Entry Parcel.
- Pulte will have the right to construct an entry road on the Community Entry Parcel to connect the new community to Briarwood Park Drive. The City will grant such additional construction easements for the construction as may be reasonably be required for construction of the road.
- Pulte will seek to remove only such existing trees and vegetation as may be required for the construction of the road or as may otherwise be requested by Pulte and agreed upon by the park authority of the City of Brookhaven. Pulte will landscape both sides of the road in an aesthetically pleasing manner that is consistent with the park.
- The directional signage, entry monuments and gates for the new community will be designed to be in a proportion appropriate to the park, with colors that will blend with the park, and will be constructed on the Community Entry Parcel.
- Pulte will support the closure of the road that currently leads from Briarwood Way into the park.
- Pulte will construct a main entrance from the community out to Buford Highway so that only a portion of the community’s traffic will exit and enter the community through Briarwood Park.
- Pulte will contribute $200,000 toward improvements to the Briarwood swimming pool facilities as long as the improvements are constructed and completed within 2 years of the date of the land conveyance.
“We value parks. We want to connect to them,” said Reed. “The opportunity to build here puts us right next to a revitalized park.” He said the new development would integrate with the park and it would eliminate apartments with high levels of crime.
But Brookhaven Fields resident and a volunteer throughout the City of Brookhaven, Terrell Carstens said that according to the City of Brookhaven Police Department, crime in Briarwood Park is almost non-existent and since the Conservancy has had such a strong presence in the park it has become a destination for many.
One woman who lives nearby and plays tennis at the Park said she supports the development. She said she too pulled crime stats from the Police Department, not specifically for the park, but for the communities surrounding it. “There were cases of terroristic threats, the manufacture and sale of meth and auto theft by taking,” she said.
If successful, the planned community would bring around 250 residential units, and their residents and their cars. The prospect of increases in traffic the development could add through the park is a big concern for the Conservancy and for park-goers.
Neighbor Donna Hall said that when the City of Brookhaven was going through the process of creating Master Plans and Parks and Recreation Master plans, a street through Briarwood wasn’t part of anyone’s plan. “The conversations in community meetings were all for preservation and for keeping trees and encouraging greater usage,” she said. She said it is hypocritical to think people are going to be encouraged to come to the park if there is a lot of traffic coming through it.
Pulte’s aim is to purchase and divide approximately 14 acres of land currently being utilized by the Terraces at Brookhaven and Northeast Plaza Apartments into two halves. The “front” half, accessed primarily via Buford Hwy., Pulte indicates will be redeveloped at some point into up-scale rental and/or senior housing. The rear half, Pulte will redevelop as a residential community that will be accessed primarily through Briarwood Park. The front and rear developments will have gated access between them.
None of the frontage along Buford Highway will see any improvement, according to Reed.