Archives for March 2013

Bellaire Decision by ZBA

By a 5-2 vote, the Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted to defer a decision on the Bellaire property appeal until their May 15th meeting.  The purpose is to give the property owners and neighbors a chance to negotiate an agreement.

After a 2 hour meeting, the ZBA voted to defer, much to the disappointment of the 100 or so Brookhaven residents packing the Brookhaven Court Chamber.  Half the crowd had to stand along the edges of the room and in the lobby outside; everyone sweltered as the HVAC system, apparently turned off for the evening, failed to cool.

Each side was given 30 min. to make their case, with Atty. Kathy Zickert presenting for the Tomlinson Family (property owners) and Linda Dunlavy presenting for the BPCA, HBNA and Bellaire neighbors.  Zickert, et al., maintained that the DeKalb County Planning Dept. incorrectly interpreted the density allowed on the site in denying the owners a Certificate of Overlay Zoning Compliance.  Furthermore, she argued, DeKalb County should have allowed them to make any necessary changes to their site plan and continued to process their LDP application rather than pass on the application to the City of Brookhaven.

Dunlavy, et al., countered that DeKalb Planning Dept.’s interpretation of allowable density was a correct interpretation of the zoning code and therefore the denial of a Certificate of Overlay Compliance should stand.  The Brookhaven ZBA should read Brookhaven’s code and form their own clear opinion, with no deference given to prior decisions made by DeKalb County on other projects.

In the end, the likelihood that either losing party would pursue their case in Superior Court, with the City of Brookhaven as defendant, seemed to convince the ZBA to encourage a negotiated solution.

If such a solution isn’t reached by May 15th, the ZBA will be forced to decide yes or no on the property owners’ appeal.  For more details and a video, see this Brookhaven Post article.

Bellaire Public Hearing

The proposed Brookhaven Overlook project, at the corner of Bellaire Drive and Peachtree, will have a public hearing before the Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) this Wednesday at 7 PM at the Brookhaven Municipal Court Chamber (map).  The property owners, represented by Attorney Kathy Zickert, are appealing an administrative decision made by DeKalb County Planning Department to deny them a certificate of Overlay Zoning Compliance last November.  The application and appeal were passed from DeKalb County to the City of Brookhaven in December.

The BPCA, Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association, and Bellaire neighbors are supporting DeKalb Planning Department’s decision and opposing the property owners’ appeal.  Attorney Linda Dunlavy is representing the opposition.

The City of Brookhaven Planning Department recommends denial of the appeal.

This is the only item on Wednesday’s agenda.  Details can be found here on the City of Brookhaven website.  Under “Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting”, click on “Packet.”

See other posts under “Brookhaven Overlook” on this website for plans, elevations, and the BPCA analysis of the proposed development.


Caldwell Variance Denied

The Zoning Board of Appeals denied the requested height variance for “the little white house” on Caldwell Road last night by a 4-2 vote.  While ZBA members and public speakers generally welcomed a new restaurant by chef Scott Serpas, the applicant could not demonstrate a hardship that warranted a height variance.  Many area residents also voiced concern about parking on nearby residential streets and traffic congestion.

In the BPCA’s view, this site should be redeveloped with the surrounding properties as part of a cohesive, mixed-use development in accord with the LCI vision.  There has been at least one effort to assemble that block already and it looks like it will happen in the near future.

In the meantime, the “little white house” can continue to serve as an office for small business per its current use.

Caldwell Road Variance Request

There is a zoning variance hearing coming up on Monday night (3/4/13) for 2536 Caldwell Drive (the white house behind Savi Market). The hearing is at 7:00 PM at the Brookhaven Bank, 2221 Johnson Ferry Road. Here’s a summary:

The applicant wants open a restaurant keeping the existing house structure & adding additional building that will almost double the current footprint . The application requests a waiver of the height requirement under the zoning regulations. The plans submitted indicate a little over 100 seats including a 16 seat bar. The site plan submitted indicates a total of only 10 parking spaces provided on-site. The owner purchased the property in mid-2010.

2356CaldwellSiteThe complete application, including site plan and sketches, can be found here, pp. 25-38.  The Brookhaven-Peachtree Community Alliance (BPCA) has filed Oppositions with the City of Brookhaven – Zoning Board of Appeals to the variance request citing numerous technical concerns.   (Click here for the full text of the Opposition as filed).

One of the chief concerns is that BPCA estimates the restaurant will need parking for 50+ cars when busy. The excess 40+ cars (about 2 2/3 football fields long parked end to end) will be parking on the narrow single family streets nearby that have no sidewalks or adequate lighting, plus the streets are narrow. Additionally, Caldwell Drive has no obvious easy driving returns to Dresden drive other than the way in on Caldwell Drive. That intersection is already congested with traffic, inadequate parking and valet services generated from Savi, Kaleidoscope, Sushi One and the soon to be opened Rock Pizza. BPCA is concerned that this will additional traffic volume & noise at nighttime through the residential streets with drivers distracted to find a route out, and, cause dangerous U-turns on narrow Caldwell Drive.

Anyone who shares these concerns should consider attending the hearing, and or making their concerns known beforehand, speaking with their community leaders or contacting your City Council representatives.