Brett Hensley says he just wanted to wash his boat.

But when he brought his 27-foot boat home from storage and parked it in his yard, one of his neighbors complained to the city. Soon, Hensley said, city officials told him he was violating the city’s new land development and zoning regulations because it wasn’t on a concrete pad.

“All I wanted to do was to have my boat for one to two weeks to wash it,” he said. “I can’t even bring it home and wash it.”

Hensley said it turned out the concrete pad provisions had been included in a draft version of the new code, but somehow didn’t make it into the final code, so he wasn’t breaking the law. Now city officials want to put the requirement back in the code.

On May 12, Hensley stood in front of Dunwoody City Council to tell his story as the council took up a round of proposed revisions to the zoning and development codes adopted last year.

He said he’s looked at other communities’ codes and believes Dunwoody officials should not include the requirement of a concrete pad for boat and recreation vehicle storage in order to allow the use of other kinds of surfaces, such as pea gravel.

“The council needs to think about some more ‘green’ issues. Is concrete really what we want in our side yards?” he asked.

In the six-month review, council members are considering more than 40 separate changes to the zoning and land development codes that city staff members say will make the new codes more effective.

The proposed changes also are to be considered by the city’s Community Council and Planning Commission.

The council on Oct. 14 adopted the extensive new codes – developed through a public process that took 22 months – in an effort to make the codes specific to Dunwoody’s wants and needs.

Changes to be debated include everything from minor alterations in definitions, to changes intended to address larger issues, such as the division of existing lots in a developed subdivision.

Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch said the process can frustrate residents. “I don’t know that it allows citizens to … feel their voices have been heard,” she said.

One proposed change would reduce the amount of time a sign must be posted to advertize the arrival of a food truck at a specific location. Signs now must be posted 30 days.

“My feeling is a sign is more intrusive for 30 days than a food truck is for three hours,” Councilman Doug Thompson said.

Hensley also questioned the wisdome of having enforcement of the codes based on complaints from residents.

“We have turned this into a complaint-driven town,” he said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.