After months sitting vacant, the site of the old Hastings garden store in Brookhaven has a new tenant.

Chase Bank is looking to open a branch on the Peachtree Road property, and has asked DeKalb County for several variances to the area’s overlay zoning requirements.

The purpose of Brookhaven’s overlay zoning district is to create an urban feel along the Peachtree Road corridor by requiring new businesses to follow guidelines intended to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and visually appealing.

On May 9, the Zoning Board of Appeals will hear Chase’s request. Gary Cornell, interim director of DeKalb’s Planning and Sustainability Department, said staff members are reviewing the bank’s application and will make a recommendation to the board before the meeting.

One of the overlay’s main requirements is that buildings be constructed no more than 20 feet from the sidewalk. The goal is to make the buildings easier to access on foot, rather than having a parking lot between the building and the sidewalk, as is customary in many suburban strip malls.

Chase has requested a variance to increase that distance to 54 feet to share an easement with its neighbor, Kauffman Tire.

Carl Westmoreland, an attorney representing Chase, said it would be very difficult to meet the 20 feet specified by the zoning rules.

“The problem with this site is the Kauffman site is on the same parcel. They’ve got an access easement across the front of the property to get to the traffic light. We can’t block that easement,” Westmoreland said. “It’s fair to say the response from the overlay group is you need to get Kauffman to give up or relocate their easement. Kauffman is not inclined to do that.”

Westmoreland said Chase has altered its typical design for this site to meet the overlay zoning requirements. For example, the building will be two stories and would not have a parking lot in front.

“We’ve talked to the people in the [Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance] group and the county to see if we could come as close to what they’d like to see as possible,” Westmoreland said.

Westmoreland said one of the challenges of meeting all the overlay criteria is that Chase would be leasing the property.

“To build something of the scale the overlay envisions you really need to own and not lease the property,” Westmoreland said.

Jack Honderd, a member of the alliance and one of the overlay district’s most vocal defenders, said variance applications like Chase’s undermine the vision for the Peachtree corridor.

“It’s such a key time and a turning point for Brookhaven that we can’t afford to roll over and give up. This is going to establish the look of Brookhaven for 20, 40, 50 years,” Honderd said.

Honderd said he and other volunteers are working to circulate a petition and gather neighbors to attend the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting May 9.