By Ann Marie Quill
Mark Kick says that after 20-plus years of operating Nuts ’n Berries in Brookhaven, it’s time for an update.
“We have made a successful location and we would like to grow to meet the needs of our customers,” he said.
Kick wants to add a second-story addition, extend the storefront, and add an outdoor café to the Peachtree Road health food shop. To do that, he will need to build a parking lot on residential property he owns on Kendrick Road behind the business.
However, after a number of Kendrick Road neighborhood residents showed up at a Feb. 5 planning commission meeting to voice complaints against rezoning the Kendrick Road properties, Kick says he is rethinking his plans and will ask Brookhaven City Council for a 90-day extension.
The residents, who live along Kendrick and nearby streets, say a parking lot was not what they bargained for when moving to the neighborhood.
“When we bought our home, we were fully aware that on two of the four sides we were surrounded by C-1 Commercial [zoning],” resident Shayne Murphy told the planning commission. “We fully [thought] that across the street where there was residential it would continue that way.”
Murphy, along with neighbors, protested Kick’s application to rezone the three residential lots at 1296, 1302 and 1304 Kendrick to C-1 Local Commercial so that he can construct the lot. Kick needs the extra parking in order to comply with zoning requirements if he expands his business.
The commission ultimately decided to recommend denial of the rezoning by Brookhaven City Council, which was scheduled to vote on the matter Feb. 25.
Murphy said he felt the Kendrick lots presented no economic need to change zoning. “They have a viable use as residential and don’t need to be turned to commercial,” he said, citing lots in the area that have sold in the $500,000 to $600,000 apiece range.
Nearby resident David Barrs agreed, telling the commission that rezoning the Kendrick properties would cause a financial hardship for himself and his neighbors, while setting a dangerous precedent that would ensure a “slow death” for the neighborhood.
“We moved into this neighborhood with the expectation that existing residential zoning would remain in place,” Barrs said.
The proposed rezoning has garnered the backing of the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance. Board member Mike Elliott told the commission that after meeting with Kick and members of the community, “We support the use of the property for associated parking for Mr. Kick’s business.”
He added that he concurs with a city staff recommendation to rezone to Neighborhood Shopping instead of C-1 Commercial.
While Kick had applied for C-1 Commerical rezoning, a staff report recommended Neighborhood Shopping instead, stating that C-1 zoning was not compatible with DeKalb’s Future Development Map adopted by the city.
The staff report also noted that NS zoning would be more appropriate for the area and could be a suitable transition between commercial and residential zoning.
Planning Commission Chairman Stan Segal cast the lone vote against the denial.
“What I’m wrestling with is the potential encroachment on the residential street and balancing that, though, against the need for businesses to grow and the fact that this is a community business that’s been in place over 20 years on Peachtree,” Segal said after the hearing.
Kick said that a 90-day extension would allow a community meeting where residents and city planners could look at parking needs and homeowners’ concerns.
“I hope that a solution will come out of the meeting that will be beneficial to both,” he said.