To the editor:
I am writing today to make comment on your recent article titled “Chamblee draws new plans, local owners object to current rules,” published in the July 28-August 11, 2011 issue of the Brookhaven Reporter.
In the article, Mr. Earle captures part of the sentiment of the event, but unfortunately focuses on most of the negativity. I feel it is valuable and prudent to offer my comments in effort to provide the issue some balance.
The meeting, while hosted by the Chamblee Business Association, was in fact a city of Chamblee meeting (paid for by tax dollars) for the specific purpose of gaining insight from the community as we work to amend the Comprehensive Development Plan in response to the recent annexation and significant changes in the economic conditions.
Many of the attendees that voiced concerns about the current regulations were in fact invited to the meeting (many by me) for the specific purpose of providing their comments regarding changes they would like to see.
The city is dedicated to offering solutions for growth, while being responsive to current owner/tenant needs, and this meeting was for that very purpose. I think the fact that the city planned for the “impending growth” back in 2006 was not unlike any other progressive city in the U.S. I believe The City was properly responding to the economic conditions of the time.
The state of Chamblee’s ‘built environment’ is only judged as being something it is not because of the drastic differences between Chamblee and its neighbors (Brookhaven, Buckhead and Dunwoody). However, with the plan of 2006, I believe the market conditions (not the city) were pushing development into the Chamblee area that was very similar to our neighbors.
With the new economic reality comes the need for the city to react. Chamblee is far less likely to attract a corporate retail tenant than it is to become a haven for entrepreneurs and ‘mom & pop’ shops. Being one of the only (if not the only) city in the Atlanta Metro area to lower its taxes without significantly altering our services this year is a very good sign that we are efficient minded and well governed.
It was stated that our assets include the MARTA station, the airport and Peachtree Boulevard, but I think the true value (related to development) is that we are in fact not our neighbors.
Chamblee is a unique, well-located, very affordable, relatively untapped marketplace. It is a special place with an emerging character where everything is not perfect. In the past, there may have been a disconnect between the business community and the city, but that is not the case now. While I disagree that we are trying to be something we are not, our current zoning laws often represent this very imbalance. I applauded the city for taking the time to revisit this and consider changes that can bring us back to a plan that is focused on allowing Chamblee to be Chamblee.
If anyone is interested in developing in the city, all you have to do is schedule a meeting with the city manager and you will feel how small and easy to work with the city truly is. Sure there will always be developers that want to work in the gray areas of the regulations and may have to spend legal fees to see their objective through, but remember that is the exception …not the rule.
Chamblee City Councilman Thomas Hogan