Some Brookhaven residents and property owners claim a developer’s plans to build a Walgreens store on Peachtree Road don’t fit the community-based development plans for Brookhaven.
“Clearly, it does not,” said Lynda Martin, who wants to develop about 1.5 acres adjacent to the drug store site. “It’s inherently a different vision. … We don’t want Brookhaven to be a place people drive through. We want it to be a place where there’s a community.”
Some residents have been meeting with DeKalb County officials and representatives of an Atlanta developer to discuss the design of a proposed Walgreens drug store on Peachtree Road.
Joel Putterman is one of several residents who helped draw up Brookhaven’s development guidelines imposed through a zoning “overlay,” a set of additional rules for buildings in a designated area. He called the building proposed for the corner of Peachtree Road and Colonial Drive an attempt to “creatively interpret” the guidelines.
“This is not a cookie-cutter site,” Putterman said. “They’ve got a formula [for the design of Walgreen’s buildings]. This is not a formula neighborhood. It’s a very unique neighborhood.
“The community is not anti-development. It just wants the development to be done in the spirit of the hard work everyone has done to deliver the best direction.”
But Laurel David, the lawyer representing GLM Development Co., which is developing the building, said extensive changes already had been made to the building’s design to meet requirements of the overlay zoning.
About a dozen changes were made to the plans, she said, including moving the building to the street side of the property, extensive changes to the façade and moving the front door so it faced Peachtree Road.
Martin said her family, which owns the historic Goodwin House on Peachtree Road, had hoped to work with other property owners in the area to consolidate and develop their properties under the rules of the overlay district. She said the community worked a decade to develop the overlay district rules. But attempts to work with other property owners were not successful, she said.
“If we’re going to give up our family legacy,” she said, “we would love to leave something that furthers the overlay rather than what we’ve got there now.”
The biggest dispute between GLM and the residents appears to be over whether the development plans meet requirements that buildings within the area be at least two stories tall.
GLM’s proposal calls for a second story that covers 30 to 35 percent of the building, David said. The area will contain offices, she said.
Residents say that’s not enough.
The Brookhaven overlay district, residents said, requires construction of “urban” buildings in the area around the Brookhaven MARTA station. Buildings are supposed to be designed to encourage walking, rather than driving, Martin said.
“If they were really serious about a retail store in this location, they should really get innovative,” Putterman said.
County planning officials are considering whether the second floor as proposed meets the requirements of the overlay district, said David Cullison, a senior planner with DeKalb County.
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