Commissioner Bert Levy was the lone “Nay” vote, stating he was not comfortable with the amount of greenspace in the project and the project in general, as it is planned today.
Because of the large number of conditions to consider, Commission Chair Stan Segal guided Commissioners through the list one-by-one, identifying ones everyone agreed to and those that needed further discussion.
“This is an emotional 50 year decision,” said Segal. “No one has taken it lightly.” He said each one of the Commissioners has done their best to fully understand the project and what they were asked to consider.
After discussing each of the selected conditions that still needed work, tweaks were made such as hours deliveries could be made and trash trucks could pick-up. Commissioner Shannon Cameron wanted language included to provide for communication to take place between the community and the developers as the project progresses.
36 conditions were attached to the project in all, a new record number for Brookhaven. MARTA and development partner, Brookhaven City Center Partners (BCCP), agreed to all of them.
Planning Commission members voted 4-3 to deny a request for a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) to construct an office building 25-feet taller than the 100-foot height allowed in the Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District. Commissioners Levy, Segal, Francour and Pike cast the four votes needed to pass the recommendation for City Council to deny the SLUP request.The site plan presented requires the rezoning of “underutilized” surface parking located at MARTA’s Brookhaven/Oglethorpe Station.
The PC-2 zoning sought will allow for the construction of a variety of uses. Currently the parcels have a mixture of zoning classifications such as C-2, M, R-75 and RM-75.
The development team explained the TOD will be constructed in four phases. They said the traffic issues would likely be addressed in phases one and two – improvements to Peachtree Rd. at Dresden Dr. to take place first. Jessica Hill, attorney for the project, said the traffic study shows traffic will get better with the development.
Hill said GDOT has been involved in the development discussions and have been receptive to traffic proposals made. “In the conditions certain improvements must be made or the development cannot move forward,” she said. “A TOD is dense and that is what is planned around the transit station. If you don’t approve a project here, I don’t know where you would approve it in Brookhaven,” Hill added.
There was considerable discussion of BCCP including a 2.5 acre strip of land across Apple Valley Rd. that lies adjacent to Fernwood Park that is used for MARTA watershed. The strip of land is not contiguous to the MARTA site and therefore raised questions as to whether it could be made part of the site and also receive the same PC-2 zoning.
Brookhaven Fields resident Terrell Cartens said that giving a watershed property the highest zoning classification the City allows for on a parcel abutting a neighborhood by jumping across someone elses property was something she did not support.
The land is identified in MARTA’s plan to be used as greenspace, and was originally calculated in the formula to determine the amount of open space in the development, one criteria needed to meet SLUP height bonus requirements.
After further research, it was determined the open space in the development site plan was sufficient without the parcel. Councilmembers decided the parcel could be included as part of the development and would also receive the same PC-2 zoning, but the parcel could not be used to calculate open space area nonetheless.Todd Thompson who lives on Inman Drive said the major concerns he has with the project are traffic and sewer system capacity. “MARTA is asking the citizens to accept an excessive burden with traffic and sewer systems that are backing up already,” he said.
“Sewers are not to be discussed this evening,” said Hill. “We have done the due diligence we can do, DeKalb is challenged. Permits will not be issued if there is not adequate sewer. This is a land use discussion.”
Members from the Fernwood Park Civic Association Board, the Brookhaven Fields Civic Association Board and the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance (BPCA) all spoke in favor of the project.
“Compared to Walgreens and Town Brookhaven, this was a much better process dealing with BCCP and MARTA,” BPCA Member Bill Roberts told Commissioners. “They have been willing to listen and make changes as they could and they should be complimented for that.”
Roberts said the BPCA was organized years ago in anticipation of this project. “The plans as they are constituted today are still conceptual,” Roberts said. “The project is a better project because of the amount of community involvement.”
The proposed Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA multi-phase TOD project is described as:
- An 8-story, 200,000 square foot office building,
- A 75,000 square foot, 125 room hotel;
- Two for rent multifamily buildings aggregating 340 units;
- Two for sale multifamily buildings aggregating 107 units;
- One senior housing building with 100 units; and
- Retail and restaurant uses aggregating 55,768 square feet.
The case will move to the Brookhaven City Council to consider on October 25.