Among the big hurdles members of the new Brookhaven City Council will need to tackle while setting up a new city will be a stack of zoning and permit applications waiting for them.
DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said the county is no longer accepting any rezoning applications for the Brookhaven area.
“A couple months ago, we quit accepting new applications because by the time it went through the process, the board wouldn’t have the authority to make a decision,” Brennan said.
Brennan said because the zoning process is lengthy, DeKalb is leaving Brookhaven zoning issues for the new city to decide.
“It’s approximately three months if all deadlines are met and there are no obstacles. That’s about the quickest you can get though the process. Typically, it’s four months,” Brennan said. “There was an administrative decision made to not accept anything new, probably in mid-October.”
Brookhaven City Councilman Jim Eyre said because the city is still in the process of setting up its infrastructure, it won’t be able to begin hearing zoning issues immediately. The city is scheduled to officially begin operations Dec. 17.
“We need to have a short, 30-day moratorium, maybe 45, that allows us to get all our stuff together,” Eyre said. “We need to have time to get our act together while we’re hiring contractors.”
Mayor J. Max Davis said a moratorium on permits also would be necessary.
“We’re going to put business permitting on pause for the short term in order to help businesses in the future,” Davis said.
One zoning application already under way in DeKalb County has drawn the notice of many in Brookhaven, especially in the Historic Brookhaven neighborhood.
Brand Properties has submitted to DeKalb a site plan for a five-story, 176-unit apartment building with a two-story parking deck on Peachtree Road between Bellaire and Club drives, according to the Brookhaven-Peachtree Community Alliance.
Jack Honderd, a board member of the alliance, said the group believes the high density of the project is out of line with the single family homes near it.
He said the overlay zoning district, which governs the Peachtree Road corridor, encourages smart, dense growth that will foster a more pedestrian-friendly environment. However, the overlay specifies two subareas – one centered around the MARTA station which envisions dense development, and another closer to single family homes that calls for smaller, transitional development.
Honderd said the group believes the proposed apartment development would make more sense closer to the MARTA station.
“This property is right on the edge of Brookhaven,” he said. “We all believe that would be more appropriate in Sub-area 2.”
He said the alliance is hopeful that the project will not be approved as proposed.
“Luckily there’re some underlying zoning issues that will keep it from being developed at that density we think,” Honderd said. “I don’t believe the project will go forward at that density.”
Bill Riley, Brookhaven’s acting city attorney, said he discussed the development during negotiations with DeKalb County.
“It’s in the county’s hands,” Riley said. “They were working diligently to come up with the best solution for the people of DeKalb, of which includes the city of Brookhaven.”