Brookhaven is looking to update the way it regulates building near streams.
Following concern from residents, the Brookhaven City Council is asking for the public to weigh in on a new stream buffer ordinance before considering it on March 25.
“Because there’s been so much commentary, I think it’s important we do treat it as a public hearing item,” City Manager Marie Garrett said.
City officials said the three most significant aspects of the new stream buffer ordinance are that a variance would be required for any disturbance within the 75-foot stream buffer unless a building is grandfathered or exempted; no variances may be granted by the city within the 35 feet closest to a stream; and mitigation would be required for any variances to the stream buffer ordinance.
Councilman Jim Eyre said he believes requiring mitigation for encroachments to the stream buffer will help prevent issues with water quality and storm water runoff.
“In a nutshell, it provided a little bit more protection but it allowed for some more flexibility in exchange for minimum mitigation standards we required,” Eyre said.
Eyre said he had been contacted by his constituents who were concerned by the amount of infill construction going on in Brookhaven. They worried that tearing down older houses to build larger ones could create more flooding as well as a loss of trees, he said.
“People were concerned we were providing too many variances and somehow allowing too much development in the stream buffer,” Eyre said. “I’m hoping what people will see … is we really have provided a means to address items they were concerned about.”
Councilman Bates Mattison said the new stream buffer ordinance would also allow the city to better utilize the creeks and streams that run through it.
“We hoped to create a better stream buffer ordinance that allowed environmental protections but also allowed for things like creating nature paths, city paths on the north fork of the Peachtree Creek,” Mattison said.
Mattison said the intent of the new ordinance is not to make it easier to build in stream buffers.
“When we brought up the discussion there became a perception that we were removing this barrier to development, and allowing development to occur unfettered in our stream beds,” Mattison said.
He said he thinks if approved, the new ordinance would allow for smarter development and help keep the streams clean.
“The intent was to modernize what was a very strong line in the sand at 75 feet,” Mattison said.
To view the proposed stream buffer ordinance, go to: http://brookhavenga.gov/city-departments/community-development/land-development-/stream-buffer-ordinance-draft.