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6 Comments

  1. 1

    Tom Reilly

    That Special Land Use Permit sounds like such a glaring exception to the density rule. If you have too many or too great exceptions to a policy, you have no policy.

  2. 2

    Eddie E.

    The secret funders of C4ND had a ‘deal’ and they want to collect!
    How dare we get in the way?

  3. 3

    Riley OConnor

    Last night’s meeting was interesting on several levels. Early on, City Attorney Chris Balch was asked to report on the status of the various zoning-related lawsuits that are wending their way through the courts. The Hastings property and Terwiliger-Pappas come to mind, but there are several others, too. Only in one case are the City’s costs being covered by insurance with the other legal fees being paid for by the City of Brookhaven’s taxpayers. So, if we want tight zoning, we’re going to be paying for it. Which suits me fine. For me, all I want is fairness, transparency and clarity.

    Say what you will, having a tight zoning code helps in this situation, and codifying the maximum residential density of an area is a step toward that goal. So that was voted on last night. In so many cases, the City seems to be playing catch-up in a time when construction activity is at a fever pitch. Talk about trying to hit a moving target.

    But it has to be demoralizing for the Planning Commission to watch the gathered public get up and leave after the “big show” of the Connolly matter is decided while there remained equally important matters left to be discussed. This residential density decision was made with a gathered audience of about 6 citizens, including our ever present Trey Benton.

    It is also disconcerting to see so much legal activity about the zoning code, but the reality of it is that if we were in Grady County Georgia, there would probably not be as much legal activity because there isn’t as much going on there as in Brookhaven. It’s all location, location, location, and Brookhaven is ground zero for this sort of stuff. Even if the zoning code were bullet-proof, there would still be lawyers nosing around for a way to contravene it. That’s just the way of the world. Which is why we have a Planning Commission.

    There are beginning indications that the housing market is due for an adjustment, but then it always looks that way. You can’t time the market, but you can certainly look up the road to Chamblee and see that a lot of stuff is being built right now. And, there are at least two projects here in Brookhaven that were off to a promising start only to now be stalled for unknown reasons.

    Whether there is a market for what is being built remains to be seen. Those with free cash are constantly on the lookout for ways to invest that might yield a higher return. And the good citizens of Brookhaven are inevitably going to be part of that action, whether they like it or not.

  4. 4

    Thomas Porter

    Does this soothe the Planning Commission’s conscience? It’s VERY late in the game and and not a valid excuse for their recommended approval of Connolly, which, was betrayal from my singular view.
    It’s on you now City Council… two of you face reelection this year, another probably won’t be around. That potentially leaves only one council representative and the Mayor to bear continued public scorn if Connolly is passed, and, the disruption will last a long time as a public reminder.

  5. 5

    bldvl89

    Riley – as one of those who got up and left in total disgust as last night’s hearing, my issue with the density reduction is that the City closed the barn door after the horse already got out, and left the residents holding all the horsesh*t.

    Connolly basically took advantage of what will be about a 12 month hole in the City zoning ordinance. Until the Jan. 12, 2016 amendment to the zoning code, “very high residential density” was defined as anything over 30 units/acre. When the zoning ordinance amendment passed, Mr. Song eliminated this definition from the code. Within five months (in April and in June of 2016), we got re-zoning applications from Terwilliger, Connolly and MARTA each seeking in excess of 30 units/acre.

    What the PC did last night was formally close that loophole – but the three aformentioned projects are grandfathered in, b/c the Applicants were clever enough to file during what in retrospect will be about a 12-13 month period when there were no rules or definitions against development in excess of 30 units/acre.

  6. 6

    Riley OConnor

    Yes, it is an inappropriate loophole, and there is no explanation as to why it was placed there. Further, it always seems that we are way behind the zoning curve, always trying to play catch-up while the lawyers continue to ferret out other weaknesses. The early days of the City have been a giant gimme to developers of all sorts, but that has changed. The true battle now is taking place in the courts over the City’s refusal to go along with every developer’s dreams.

    If anything “timeless” will be built (or has been built up to this point), it will eventually prove out. It’s like everybody is using mark-copy-paste to come up with their “innovative” designs that they are so excited about. A lot of the eye-candy proposed drawings look severely ugly, but you can gauge the way that taste has progressed. Dan Woodley’s original proposed structure (circa 1996 – 1998) looked like a Philip Johnson designed Versailles. Or HoJo rococo.

    The proposed development still looks like every other city and there is no apparent charm to their design nor respect for the neighborhoods which would presumably support the businesses that locate there. The density is bad enough, but there’s also the aspect of our having to live with ugly disrespectful architecture.

    At the same time, approving these projects does not necessarily equate with their actual construction. Construction loans will have to be made, and if the apartment market is truly running out of gas, at least some of the bankers will remember 2008 and slam the window shut. And, popular tastes change, just take a look at the mega-buildings which were constructed as retail big-box stores in the 1990’s that now have been repurposed into other things. Thus you have the conversation last night as to the possibility of converting all those one-bedroom apartments into larger condos. Certainly would be a remedy for traffic issues.

    In the old days, a lot of things got resolved in Decatur because nobody wanted to make the drive up to Brookhaven. Now, it is right in our front yard for all to see. We still have our elected officials to vote on this.

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