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.

 

UPDATES

-Savi expansion:  new plan

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

-Walgreen’s court case:  outlook

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.

 

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.”

Savi Variance Approved

Savi’s request for variance was approved at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Weds., March 14th, despite recommendations of denial from the DeKalb County Planning Dept. and BPCA, as well as opposition from the Board of Appeals member who represents the Brookhaven area.  This means Savi can obtain a building permit as long as they present private parking agreements that satisfy the parking requirements.

While we all love Savi and what it brings to the neighborhood, BPCA continues to be concerned about the parking shortage this plan creates as well as the precedent of new construction in the Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District with parking allowed between the building and the street (even though it will be covered by the building’s second floor.)  This will not be a safe or comfortable area for pedestrians.

Time will tell as to its appropriateness in the Overlay district.  We are open to being proven wrong.  But we fear Savi’s expansion per the submitted plan will add up to less than its promise, will make for a confusing and congested parking situation, and even that it will create a difficult business problem for Savi’s owner given the sales density (especially on the second floor) that will be needed to support the new construction costs.

For another take on this and more details, see this article from the Brookhaven Patch.

Billboard Update 3/8/12

A neighbor actively fighting the billboard just received a letter from DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, who had announced at his Ashford Park Town Hall Meeting that he would meet with representatives of Action Outdoor Advertising.  The letter states:

….my staff and I recently met with representatives of AOA to discuss whether it could be moved to another location.  However, another standard billboard located on Peachtree Road approximately 1,300 feet away is also allowed, per a settlement from a lawsuit, to be converted to an LED billboard.  The owner of that billboard has applied for conversion to an LED billboard, but his request is being held in abeyance by a GA DOT regulation that requires LED billboards to be at least 3,000 feet apart.  The current LED billboard constructed nearby by AOA has pre-empted conversion of the other billboard to an LED billboard.  If AOA removes its billboard, the owner of the other billboard would then have rights to convert it to an LED.  Thus, we are now in the process of contacting the owner to see if he is willing to waive his rights.  Otherwise, removal of the current sign will not help us reach the desired goal.

COMMENT:  The “other billboard” referred to is the one above the Waffle House by Dresden.  Yes, an LED board there would also be unsightly and annoying–let’s get rid of them all!  Short of that, which would you prefer to keep?

Kroger Update 2/24/12

BPCA met with representatives of Kroger on Feb. 13th to discuss its recommendations for improvements in the elevations to break up the long and uniform appearance, provision of pedestrian connections between Peachtree and Colonial and the shopping center stores, and the introduction of landscaping in the parking lot, and the creation of a pedestrian street scape for Peachtree Road frontage.

Kroger’s head of real estate for the Southeast listened attentively and indicated she would like to address the community’s concerns.  Kroger intends to keep open the current store while the expansion is under construction, and they are focused on starting as soon as possible.  She said that BPCA’s requested site and streetscape improvements would come under Weingarten’s purview, as Kroger is only responsible for store construction.  Kroger will have a 30 year lease on the space, meaning it will be a long time before any Overlay District requirements will have a chance to be applied to the site in the future. Here is a sketch of the Peachtree Road side of the expanded Kroger.

 

A meeting with Weingarten Realty is scheduled for Tues., March 6, to discuss BPCA’s recommendations for parking lot landscaping and street frontage improvements.

 

Savi Expansion Updates

The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals voted yesterday (8 Feb.) to defer the Savi Market variance request for 30 days so that “DeKalb staff, the owner and neighborhood representatives can meet to work out the issues that arise from this development”.  Specifically that means adequate parking.  We (BPCA reps Bill Draper, Jim Eyre and myself) had an amicable chat with Paul Nair (Savi owner) and Doug Dillard (Paul’s atty.) afterwards and they are going to explore a shared parking agreement.  Paul agreed that this issue is as important to his business aspirations as it is to the n’hood since investing $1 million in expansion/improvements means he needs lots more customers, and if customers can’t find convenient parking not enough will come.  So at heart it’s a business problem as much as a n’hood problem,  We all agree that we like what Savi brings to Brookhaven.

Brookhaven Residents Helped Turn the LCI Study Into Bar-setting Zoning Code

The Brookhaven Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) was approved by the Board of Commissioners in January 2006, and put into place as a zoning overlay on May 22, 2007. The following timeline outlines key dates in the development of the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District between May 2006 and April 27, 2007.

May 10, 2006- DeKalb County receives notification of funding from Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to develop the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District

June 13, 2006- Agreement between Development Authority of DeKalb County and Urban Collage, Inc. enacted.

July 31, 2006- First draft of Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay Ordinance completed and sent to DeKalb County staff for review.

November 14, 2006- Overlay presented to the Planning and Economic Development Committee and referred to a work session.

December 5, 2006- Overlay introduced at Board of Commissioners work session.

December 19, 2006- Overlay presented to Community Council Area 1 and deferred full-cycle.

December 20, 2006- Overlay presented to Community Council Area 2 and approved 6-1-1 subject to changes.

January 4, 2007- Overlay presented to DeKalb County Planning Commission and deferred full-cycle.

January 17, 2007- LCI Core Team work session held to review Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay.

 

February 2, 2007- Work session held with DeKalb County Planning and Development staff to review Overlay.

 

February 14, 2007- Revised Overlay released to LCI Core Team and area stakeholders.

 

February 19, 2007- Community members met with MARTA.

 

February 22, 2007- Overlay officially deferred by Planning Commission (January 4 meeting not official).

 

February 27, 2007- Overlay deferred by Board of Commissioners.

 

February 28, 2007- Work session held with MARTA and DeKalb County Planning and Development staff to discuss changes to the Overlay to enhance MARTA Station redevelopment opportunity.

 

March 2007- Frequent discussions held with MARTA and community representatives to resolve Overlay issues and challenges associated with MARTA Station redevelopment opportunity.

 

April 4, 2007- Negotiations with MARTA completed and Revised Overlay sent to DeKalb County for review and inclusion in materials to be distributed to Community Council Area 1 and 2 members.

 

April 10, 2007- Revised Overlay sent to community representatives with summary of negotiations.

 

April 11, 2007- Overlay section number changed and Table of Contents added at request of DeKalb County Planning and Development staff.

 

April 11-16, 2007- Additional discussions held with community members concerning MARTA Station redevelopment opportunity.

 

April 17, 2007- MARTA Station redevelopment sections revised to increase open space requirement and clarify community facility clause.

 

April 17, 2007- Overlay presented to Community Council Area 1 and approved recommended unanimously for approval.

 

April 18, 2007- Overlay presented to Community Council Area 2 and recommended for approval.

 

May 8, 2007- DeKalb County Planning Commission recommends approval of final Brookhaven LCI Overlay Ordinance.

 

May 22, 2007- DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approve the final Brookhaven LCI Overlay Ordinance on the condition that one typo is corrected.