BPCA History

The Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance (BPCA) was formed in early 2004 by several Brookhaven residents after they got wind of the news that MARTA was planning to sell or lease the property around the Brookhaven MARTA station for development.  A number of meetings were held by community members to gain an understanding of all the issues and to set a vision and framework for how the property should be developed in the context of the surrounding area comprising the Peachtree Road Corridor from the Fulton County Line in the south to Oglethorpe University in the north and out Dresden Drive to the east.   After several meetings, and an outreach to surrounding area neighborhoods, community groups and neighborhood associations, the informal group of community representatives organized under the name “Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance, and proceeded to outline a range of issues and generalized goals to guide the development process (see “Presentation” file at www.bpca.net). The BPCA was not formed to stop development, but rather to guide it in ways that will make for a more livable, cohesive Brookhaven.

Not knowing the timing of the MARTA RFP process, the BPCA began to look into how to prepare some form of development framework within which the MARTA project could and should occur.  While the LCI was suggested as one option, the timing of such a grant process would not have allowed a plan to be prepared within the original MARTA schedule.   MARTA eventually decided to delay the issuance of a Request For Proposal (RFP) for a number of reasons, and this delay gave the community more time to develop a strategy.

In June of 2004, the BPCA initiated a meeting with Vernon Jones, key MARTA officials, as well as members of the Dekalb County Department of Economic Development and the DeKalb County Planning Department.  Joel Putterman of the BPCA made a presentation, as did MARTA, Vernon Jones and other representatives of Dekalb County.  Dekalb County gave the community a commitment to support the application for an LCI study. In fact, Vernon Jones made a commitment to provide $100,000 to fund a study in the event that the LCI application was not accepted.  The BPCA also obtained a promise from MARTA that, if Brookhaven were chosen for an LCI grant/study, MARTA would participate in the study and would not proceed with development until the study was complete.

To this end, the BPCA began discussion of applying for a Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission.  An LCI grant pays for a planning study of a specific, closely-focused area—usually around an existing MARTA station or neighborhood commercial center—with the aim of:

•  Connecting homes, shops and offices;

•  Enhancing streetscaping and sidewalks;

•  Emphasizing the pedestrian;

•  Improving access to transit and other transportation options; and

•  Expanding housing options.

More information is available here at the ARC website.

In mid-November, 2004–the eleventh hour–three members of BPCA initiated the application for an LCI-Brookhaven grant, writing much of the required purpose and justification, and establishing the study area boundaries; key help and support, including the commitment of 20% matching funds, was provided by the DeKalb County Economic Development Department. A MARTA representative also participated in this process.  The DK Economic Development Department coordinated and submitted the final application, and became the official applicant.

On February 14, the Atlanta Regional Commission announced that the Brookhaven application would receive $80,000 for an LCI study. With DeKalb County providing the $20,000 “match”, the $100,000 total for the study was met.

The DeKalb County Office of Economic Development Department (OED) then put out an RFP for planning firms, and subsequently filtered the respondees before narrowing the field to three candidates.   BPCA representatives were invited to participate in the final interviews of these three candidates and make recommendations.  Urban Collage emerged as the winner and began organizing the public input portion of the study in June, 2005.  They held 4 public workshops between July and December, 2005, with the BPCA participating as a “stakeholder”along with other Brookhaven residents and businesses. The full LCI process is described in detail in the study [caution:  large file, long download, but lots of good data & analysis about Brookhaven!]

Urban Collage completed the study in 2006 and presented it to Brookhaven stakeholders and the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.  Its proposals were well received, yet its recommendations were essentially good ideas without force under existing Brookhaven zoning.  About this time, the Sembler Cos. proposed Town Brookhaven development—a major impact in the LCI study area—and BPCA had little leverage in asking them to apply LCI principles.  The final product came out an odd mix of small town and big box design concepts.  At one point, Sembler seemed ready to provide $100,000 for street improvements along Peachtree Road and a master plan for Brookhaven Park, but this idea evaporated before the final plan was approved by the DK Board of Commissioners.

In late 2006, Commissioners Gannon and Rader took the lead in getting the Board of Commissioners to authorize funds for Urban Collage to write a zoning ordinance codifying the LCI recommendations.  The BPCA strongly supported this effort but was not directly involved.  After thorough vetting by the DeKalb Planning Department, the new zoning ordinance, entitled the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District, was adopted by the Board of Commissioners in May, 2007, and assigned to Brookhaven properties as shown on the Overlay Map.

Meanwhile, members of BPCA started a subsidiary group, called “Friends of Brookhaven Park,” (FoBP) to work toward a master plan for the re-development of Brookhaven Park.  FoBP led 3 public stakeholder meetings in 2008 and consulted with Commissioner Boyer on a public/private partnership to raise the $60,000 necessary to hire a landscape architect to produce a master plan for Brookhaven Park.  The goal was to make the park a true public park open to use by all Brookhaven residents.  About this time, the Great Recession hit and DeKalb County faced a serious budget shortfall.  All talk of new expenditures and park improvements was tabled, and this initiative has not yet been restarted.

In 2008, MARTA hired the planning firm EDAW to master plan development around several MARTA stations, Brookhaven included.  BPCA representatives were invited to participate in the Brookhaven station plan review.  EDAW’s resultant plan kept intact the main elements of Urban Collage’s LCI plan and further refined them. EDAW Plan

Meanwhile, BPCA re-focused its mission to be promoter of the Brookhaven LCI principles and defender of the Overlay District regulations.  In 2007, Walgreen’s purchased the site at the corner of Colonial and Peachtree and in early 2008 obtained a land disturbance permit to begin building a new store on the site.  When BPCA was alerted, we reviewed Walgreen’s plans and found that the site was designed along normal suburban store principles and did not meet Overlay requirements.  Working with Commissioner Rader, we were able to get DeKalb County to revoke the permit and Walgreen’s subsequently modified their approach, although they still have not met Overlay requirements and have not been able to get a site development permit.

Currently, the BPCA is monitoring several new proposed developments on Peachtree and Dresden.  This web site is our means to keep Brookhaven neighbors up-to-date on proposed development and whether it meets LCI and Overlay criteria.