When the Brookhaven City Council meets Feb. 12, they will be doing double duty.
Brookhaven has not yet appointed a Zoning Board of Appeals, so the City Council will act in that capacity to hear several residential variance applications being sought within the city limits. City Council will hold its regular meeting and then adjourn to hold a separate zoning meeting.
The schedule is only temporary though. Mayor J. Max Davis said he has a list of nominees and is close to approving the final members for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We will have it finalized by the [Feb.) 12th, hopefully, and they will start working after that,” Davis said.
Davis said there will be seven members on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“They are people throughout the city who have in one way or another demonstrated some volunteerism in the city and also got some recommendation from council.”
Davis said some were nominated because of their professional expertise that relates to zoning and development.
“We want to have a mixture of some experts and people who are just citizens and want to do what’s best for their community,” Davis said.
Davis will appoint the members of the Zoning Board of Appeals and City Council will vote to approve the board.
Interim City Manager Marie Garrett said the Zoning Board of Appeals does have authority to make binding decisions.
“They’re responsibility is to review requests of variances to zoning ordinances and/or development regulations of the city,” Garrett said.
For example, Garrett said builders often realize they can meet a city’s required setback distance because of physical limitations on their property. “They come before the ZBA and present their case and what their hardship is,” Garrett said.
The Zoning Board of Appeals has the authority to make a decision on whether or not to grant a variance to the city’s zoning code.
“[They] make a decision and that decision is final. If that applicant is aggrieved by that decision, they file an appeal with Superior Court,” Garrett said.
Davis is also in the process of appointing a seven-member planning commission.
The main purpose of a planning commission is to serve as an advisory board for the City Council when it comes to zoning matters.
“Their principal duty is to review applications for rezoning and master plans and make recommendations to the mayor and council,” Garrett said.
Unlike the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Commission does not have authority to make decisions. The Planning Board may instead make recommendations about an application, such as approve, deny, or approve with conditions, Garrett said.
“Council takes that under advisement and then makes their decisions,” Garrett said.