By John Schaffner

Residents of Brookhaven should not expect Santa Claus, or even Rajen Sheth, to fulfill their wish list for new trees on Dresden Drive.

Dist. 2 DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader, who has been working for four months to see that Sheth replaces the trees he illegally chopped down in front of the Brookhaven Park commercial building at 1441 Dresden, now expects the trees and other elements of the landscape plan will now be planted in late winter—in time for Arbor Day on Feb. 19.

Sheth, managing director of Pinnacle Real Estate Partners, which owns the Brookhaven Park Village building, had the 17 maturing oak trees in a DeKalb County right-of-way along Dresden Drive illegally removed in June. Since then, he has been threatened with jail time for vandalism if he didn’t agree to replace the landscaping.

Sheth told a group of 20 Brookhaven residents on Oct. 26 that he made “a serious mistake” and promised “to make things right.”

Rader said the holdup now is that Sheth “wants to do some additional street furniture items as part of the new landscaping and is waiting on approval” from the Department of Transportation.

“I am not adverse to letting him make it nicer,” Rader said. “However, it has to be substantially what the people agreed to” at the October meeting at the Ashford Park Community Center.

At that meeting, the residents were presented with three possible landscaping plans by Shannon Skinner of Urban Resource Group to right the wrong. Skinner has worked with Rader and DeKalb Commissioner Kathie Gannon on a county contract on the project.

The residents unanimously voted for a concept that included a combination of seven new taller canopy trees accented with shorter Eastern Redbud or Amur Maple trees on the two ends of the building and at the central entranceway. Presumably, those would be interspersed with other short plantings.

In order to meet the county requirement of one-to-one replacement of the total tree caliper with those that were illegally cut down, it was suggested that the remaining trees be planted at Clack’s Corner Park and, within the residential part of Village Park and at Ashford Park Community Center.

At the time of the October meeting, many thought the trees could be replanted by the end of November. But, that did not happen, partially because of waiting for approval of Sheth’s addition of street furniture to the plan.

Rader said District Attorney Gwen Keyes is still preparing the enforcement letter, which would set the deadline on when the trees are to be planted. If the terms of the enforcement letter are not carried out, Rader said, Sheth “ultimately is facing charges and jail time.”

Rader said he is proposing the final deadline in the enforcement letter for the tree plantings be Arbor Day, which is the third Friday in February in Georgia.

“The planting will be done by the end of this winter planting,” Rader stated.