Save the Overlay! Urgent Action!

Please sign this petition if you agree with BPCA’s analysis below.

On Wednesday, May 9th @ 1 PM, Chase Bank’s appeal for variance to DeKalb County’s Board of Zoning Appeals will be heard in the Manuel Maloof Auditorium at 1300 Commerce Drive in Decatur.  We MUST defeat this request for variance if we want to preserve the vision of the LCI Study and Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District!

Chase Bank’s variance application to DeKalb County poses a major threat to the vision Brookhavenites created with the LCI Study and Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District.  The plans submitted for the old Hastings site show a standard-issue suburban-style fast-in/fast-out branch bank which, if permitted, will seal the fate of Brookhaven’s Peachtree Street corridor as a fast food and service strip hospitable only to those in automobiles.  Yes, we currently have McDonald’s, Kauffman Tire and Wells Fargo already developed in that mode.  Do we want to continue and extend that?  Do we want even more car congestion without “total street” design that makes people feel safe walking or biking?

Brookhaven residents said “no” through their public participation in the LCI Study in 2004.  They said they want a Mainstreet feel along Peachtree with a safe pedestrian zone that will encourage people to walk, shop and meet.  We are lucky enough to have a Zoning Ordinance that plans for this.  Now we need to defend it.

Note that we have nothing against Chase Bank–we welcome the choice they bring as a competitor to Wells Fargo, SunTrust, Brookhaven Bank and Ironstone Bank.  We simply want them to be part of a development that honors the spirit and regs of the Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District.  It is within their power to do this.  See BPCA’s more in-depth discussion of the issues here.

NOTE:  DeKalb Planning Dept. recommends “Withdrawal.”


  1. Signed the petition, but can you explain the implications of “withdraw without prejudice”? Is this similar to the process that Walgreens went through with the lot across the street from Hastings? Withdraw, resubmit, withdraw, resubmit…

    • Yes, it allows them to re-apply without the 2 year waiting period required after a denial. We’re a little puzzled ourselves by this recommendation. It seems it would be clearer if it were a simple recommendation of “denial”: then it’s up to the applicant to ask for “withdrawal without prejudice.” Our guess is that DeKalb Planning staff wants to give Chase the time and encouragement to fix the site plan to comply with the Overlay.

      Walgreen’s did not ask for “withdrawal without prejudice.” They agreed to a one month “deferral”, and when they came back a month later, their application was “denied.” They subsequently filed suit in DeKalb Superior Court to overturn the BZA’s decision. That’s where we are now–waiting on the lawsuit to proceed.

  2. Applaud all the efforts over the past several years to transform Peachtree into a street with a “Main Street feel” but didn’t the installation of the electronic billboard nuke those efforts?

    • It was a setback, yes, but doesn’t change the overall approach to planning. We’d like to add a zoning reg to the Overlay prohibiting any future billboards. The billboards already erected would be “grandfathered in” but they could not be rebuilt if they got destroyed by lightning or screened by a new building.

  3. Albert N. Remler says:

    100% in agreement with the analysis. Prior plans as made should be kept.; to be changed or only varied as absolutely necessary upon clear change in circumstances (which is NOT the case).

  4. Businesses that purchase property in the Overlay District should comply. Period. I can understand an existing business (established before the Overlay was created) trying to do keep the status quo rather than spend extra money in a tight economy. But Chase clearly knew that compliance would be part of the cost of purchasing/building here and while they may find it expedient to see if they can get around the Overlay rules, the variance(s) should not be allowed.

  5. Ray Connelly says:

    I would like to hear from the proponents for the City of Brookhaven. Where do they stand on the overlay? Do they anticipate a new city zoning board protecting the overlay and even promoting it or have they already succumbed to the visions of developer dollars dancing in their heads?

  6. John Smith says:

    “They said they want a Mainstreet feel along Peachtree with a safe pedestrian zone that will encourage people to walk, shop and meet.”

    Never going to happen on that hiway. Get out of the way of what progrress you are lucky to have.

  7. Bill Boyd says:

    Hioefully this won’t pass. If it gets shot down, it’s likely that it would fall into the incapable hands of Rebecca Chase Williams at the DC Zoning board of Appeals. Citizens for North DeKalb board Member BTW. We would likely have another Savvi Market type decision. Meaning, logic out the window and against the LCI plan.

  8. laura skarda says:


    Signed the petition. What were the results of the meeting yesterday regarding the Chase variance?



  9. Mary Ellen Layden says:

    I’m for the City of Brookhaven and – yes – WE get to control zoning and code enforcement…not the County. This is one of the main reasons I favor this move. Let’s not be too unrealistic: what we have on Peachtree Rd. is here – for a while, at least….but that doesn’t mean we can’t enforce our vision on “newcomers” ….Tis will be so much easier when Brookhaven Zoning Board members actually KNOW the area affected by these big decisions–and we can actually contact them and meet with them to discuss these issues.

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