BPCA Members Help Set Up New City

Now that the City of Brookhaven is a reality, BPCA members have joined the effort to get the city off to a strong start.

-Jim Eyre is running for City Commissioner, District 2

-Erik Steavens is running for City Commissioner, District 3

-Mike Elliot has been appointed citizen co-chair of the Offices & Facilities committee

-Kathy Forbes has agreed to serve as citizen co-chair of the Executive Search committee

-Jack Honderd will serve as citizen co-chair of the Planning, Zoning and Municipal Code committee

 

If you would like to help Jim or Erik with a political campaign, go to Welcome to Jim for Brookhaven or

Erik Steavens for Brookhaven City Council District Three

 

If you would like to be considered for a committee position, you can see the various committees here and fill out an application here.  General information about candidates and city formation can be found at this site.

 

Press Release

Brookhaven-Peachtree Community Alliance lays out positive development goals for city of Brookhaven candidates.

Atlanta, GA, September 25, 2012:  Leaders of the Brookhaven-Peachtree Community Alliance presented their vision for the Peachtree Road corridor in the new city of Brookhaven at an education session for Brookhaven mayoral and council candidates and the Governor’s Commission. The event was organized by GA Senator Fran Millar and State Representative Mike Jacobs, and hosted by the city of Dunwoody on September 24, 2012.

BPCA board member Jack Honderd presented history behind the Brookhaven Overlay which began in 2004 with the group’s effort to pursue a Liveable Cities Iniative study for the Brookhaven’s Peachtree Road corridor.  The objective of the presentation was to explain the BPCA vision, and its benefits to the new city of Brookhaven in order to solicit support for the BPCA’s pro-development goals, the existing LCI Overlay ordinance and the need for consistent enforcement of the zoning code.

The key points outlined in the presentation were:

● The Liveable Cities Initiative study was a community effort which began eight years ago.  It was inspired by the desire of residents to create a town center on the Brookhaven MARTA site, which would serve as a community gathering place and the heart of Brookhaven.

● The LCI study recommendations and vision encourage citizen engagement and strengthen community through the creation of mixed use developments with economic vitality and a walkable city environment.

● The Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay Ordinance, adopted in 2007, is the actual zoning code that embodies the LCI study recommendations and incentivizes positive development.  Jack Hondred described this as “very important as we form our new identity as Brookhaven-ites”. The BPCA leaders further encouraged the Governor’s Commission and the future Brookhaven City Council to import existing DeKalb County zoning, especially the Overlay, without changes given the community time and money spent developing it over the past eight years and continue the success achieved with Village Place on Dredsden Rd..

Walgreen’s in court

On June 22nd, Judge Cynthia Becker heard arguments in the Walgreen’s vs. DeKalb County case arising from the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals denying Walgreen’s request for a new curb cut on Peachtree (see previous posts).  Judge Becker did not have time to review the legal briefs before the hearing and expressed some sympathy for Walgreen’s position.  However, John Jones, arguing on behalf of DeKalb County, continues to have confidence in the legal merits of the county’s position.

Lynda Martin attended the hearing and provided BPCA with notes and a summary.  We subsequently authorized our attorney, Linda Dunlavy, to file an amicus brief bolstering DeKalb County’s arguments.  This is an important case to win as it sends a message to all future developers that we have resources and expertise and are determined to defend the LCI vision and Overlay zoning.

Judge Becker is expected to issue her decision by July 20th.

UPDATES

-Savi expansion:  new plan

-Kroger:  letter to store manager, Bobby Smith:  letter

-Walgreen’s court case:  outlook

Kroger: Letter to the Store Manager

Kathy Forbes of the BPCA recently wrote a letter to our local Kroger’s store manager, Bobby Smith, at his request, summarizing our position regarding Kroger’s resistance to installing an Overlay compliant streetscape as part of their $8 million dollar renovation.  Bobby asked for the letter to present to his corporate superiors.

Bobby is a friendly guy and wants his store to be a good Brookhaven citizen.  He also wants to keep his customers happy.  Please use your next visit to Kroger as an opportunity to shake Bobby’s hand, say hi, and let him know how important the Overlay vision is to a better Brookhaven.  In particular, encourage him to get his company to install a wider sidewalk along Peachtree as well as Overlay-compliant landscaping. It’s an inexpensive step to making Brookhaven more walk-friendly and street-friendly.

Click on the link to read the letter:

Kroger ltr_Bobby Smith

Savi’s New Plan

Savi Market has scrapped their earlier plan–the one they received variances to implement–and is now submitting a plan that proposes to demolish the existing building and build a new, Overlay-compliant building along Dresden Drive.  We welcome this move and think it is a good business decision as well as a good community decision.

Savi will still have to find enough parking to meet the Overlay and fulfill their business needs. The new site plan shows 26 spaces, while the Overlay calls for 35 to serve 6,900 SF of retail.  Savi can meet this with a cross-parking agreement with a nearby property.

Apparently, when Savi looked more closely at construction costs and accepted the fact they’d have to close temporarily during construction, they realized that building new was their best option.  We were being honest and supportive when we told them so.  We look forward to many happy years with Savi a local grocer and specialty food mart.  We expect it to be a community favorite.

Alta Brookhaven

A new project, currently named “Alta Brookhaven,” has been submitted to DeKalb County Planning Department for review of Overlay Zoning Compliance.  The project fills about 2/3 of the block between Dresden and Peachtree View and consists of 230 apartment units on 3.148 acres.  It’s a 4 story structure with internal parking deck and some on-street parking.  See below for the drawings submitted.  The BPCA will be reviewing the plans in detail for Overlay compliance and providing our comments to the Planning Department.  Please feel free to chime in.

Site Plan/Floor Plan

Dresden Elevation

Peachtree View Elevation

City of Brookhaven?

A glance at Brookhaven-area yard signs is all one needs to surmise the hottest topic in town: should Brookhaven become a city?

What does the BPCA think?

The BPCA formed in 2004 to promote good planning in Brookhaven.  Our goal has been to create a recognizable heart for Brookhaven, a place where people meet, play, do business, and celebrate, a public center that everyone knows is Brookhaven.  The ARC study and subsequent Overlay zoning provide the vehicle to do this, and we now define our primary mission as promoting and defending them.

We can do this within whichever political framework Brookhaven residents choose to take forward.  The BPCA board is resolved to stay neutral in this debate.  We have received exemplary support for Brookhaven planning issues from Commissioners Rader and Gannon of DeKalb County to date, and we would fully expect to receive similar support from elected commission members at a new city hall, should that be local citizens’ decision.  Good planning is good for Brookhaven and enjoys strong neighborhood support no matter which form of self-government we choose.

This is not to say that members of the BPCA board have no individual opinions.  In fact, we have board members who favor a new city and members who favor no new city.  There are good arguments to be made on both sides of the issue, and we encourage everyone to participate in this lively debate.

The key for the BPCA is to keep its organizational focus and be prepared to work energetically with whichever political system Brookhaven citizens choose on July 31st.  For more facts and discussion of the city hood issues, we encourage you to attend the City Forum sponsored by the Brookhaven Reporter on Monday, July 9th, in Lupton Hall at Oglethorpe University.

Kroger Variances Approved

The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved Kroger’s variance requests on June 13, thereby clearing the way for Kroger to build an $8 million dollar addition to their Cherokee Plaza store.

The BPCA argued that Kroger or Weingarten (Cherokee Plaza owner/manager) should install an Overlay-compliant sidewalk and streetscape along Peachtree as part of their expansion.  Unfortunately, DeKalb County Planning Department termed the expansion a “renovation of existing building” and did not require full site compliance.  Thus, while the ZBA was sympathetic to BPCA’s goals, it decided it did not have the authority to require Kroger to install that which the Planning Dept. was not requiring.

Kroger has agreed to provide a clear and safe pedestrian path from Peachtree through the parking lot, as well as improve pedestrian access from Colonial.  In addition, they will plant 40 trees in the parking lot.

After the ZBA hearing, Kroger representatives told BPCA privately that they would consider ways to improve the pedestrian experience along Peachtree.  They said they would get back to us wit specifics in 2 weeks.

Chase Variances Denied!

The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted on June 13 to deny Chase Bank’s requests for variances so they could build a new branch bank on a portion of the Hastings site.  This is a major win for our Overlay Zoning District and, ultimately, the community’s LCI vision.

The ZBA agreed with the BPCA’s argument, as expertly put forward by attorney Linda Dunlavy, that the owner of the property, SDS Properties Ltd., created its own hardship and possesses the means to remove that hardship.  The “hardship” in question is the exit easement in favor of Goodyear/Kauffman Tire that runs the length of the site parallel to Peachtree.  This easement keeps Chase from locating a building close to Peachtree in the building/sidewalk/street relationship called for in the Overlay District.

SDS created the easement in 1994 and cannot change it without Goodyear/Kauffman’s consent.  However, SDS can terminate its lease with Goodyear/Kauffman by giving 24 months notice and accepting reduced rent for the 24 month period.  Then SDS can install an exit/entry system that serves its site and complies with the Overlay.  Therefore, SDS has an available remedy to the hardship it created.

This decision by the ZBA sends a strong message to property owners and would-be developers along Peachtree that they must market and design their sites in accord with Overlay requirements.  To date, the approach has been to design the site to the car-specific specs of national retailers, then seek variances from Overlay zoning so they can get a development/building permit.