Brookhaven, GA, March 29, 2017 – by Trey Benton – Brookhaven Councilmembers decided Tuesday to forego creating a new layer of Government, a Design Review Board (DRB), and will instead give more power to the City’s Planning Commission allowing them to review the “look and feel” of certain projects.
While the specific scope is still to be determined, the City will eventually make changes to the zoning code to add in the aesthetic language Commissioners will be responsible for reviewing. It is expected this additional scope will be citywide. Had the Council decided to create the DRB with a citywide scope, it could have added hundreds of cases to the docket and cost City taxpayers as much as $150,000 per year in added staffing support.
In early March, Planning Commission members voted unanimously to recommend City Council deny establishing a DRB. Commissioners felt that it would create another layer to wade through, and since the idea for the DRB was borne specifically for the recently withdrawn Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA Transit Oriented Development, they said they would prefer to address the issues in the Zoning Rewrite, which will follow the Overlay Review and Rewrite.
Commission Chair Stan Segal offered a suggestion to amend to the City’s Zoning Code in sections 27-15-49 and 27-1600, that will add language to the criteria the Planning Commission uses to base their decisions. His proposed language reads: “Whether the aesthetics and architectural design of the site is compatible with the intent and requirements of the Comprehensive Plan, the Character Area Study and Overlay District(s).”
During Tuesday’s Meeting, Community Development Director Patrice Ruffin told Council they needed to direct Staff to craft a resolution to change the city code, which they did. The Planning Commission will review the language and then Council will ultimately vote to accept it before code changes are implemented.
The Council’s vote was unanimous.