Plans intended to guide Brookhaven to become a more walkable, urban place have been adopted by the city.

The Brookhaven City Council on Sept. 9 gave final approval to two of the plans, the Transportation Plan and Parks & Recreation Master Plan. A third, the city’s comprehensive plan, will be reconsidered after state review.

The council delayed a decision on a fourth plan, intended to guide development along Buford Highway, until Oct.14.

The council voted to transmit the comprehensive plan to Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs and the Atlanta Regional Commission for review, as required by state law.

Council members stressed that the plans are not set in stone, and projects suggested in the plans would have to be budgeted and approved by council.

Following public input, some changes to the parks plan included adding a master plan for each park as part of the overall plan, and removing both a suggested parking deck for Murphey Candler Park and 250 parking spaces for Brookhaven Park from the plan.

The transportation plan looks at corridor and intersection improvements; bike, pedestrian, trail and public transit projects; the feasibility of a neighborhood transit system that would bring people to MARTA stations; and improving traffic flow.

The public will have 60 days to continue providing input on the Comprehensive Plan while it’s under review by the state, and the council is set to tentatively take a final vote following a Nov. 18 public hearing.

That plan outlines the “overarching long-term vision for the city of Brookhaven, with a special focus on the future growth and development of the city,” said Amanda Hutton, project manager for Jacobs Engineering, the company that designed the
plan.

Hutton said the plan is primarily focused on land use, and that its goal is that “Brookhaven will be a national model for an urban, walkable community,” while preserving the uniqueness of its neighborhoods, parks and natural assets.

Part of the plan is a character area map that focuses on 13 areas of the city and their long-term development. The plan, which Sutton said includes ideas gained during public input, calls for maintaining the character of eight residential areas and looking at five community activity areas that could benefit from mixed-use developments.

“The comprehensive plan is an overall guide, it’s not a legal document that the city has to follow everything in it,” Sutton said.

However, the Atlanta Regional Commission does like to see what has happened in the plan every five years, she added.

“Wouldn’t this fall under our zoning procedures?” Councilman Bates Mattison asked Sutton.

She replied that while it would be used as a guide, “ultimately your zoning and development regulations are the legal aspect to that.”

Resident Catherine Bernard said she was concerned that the plan was being pushed through too quickly and without adequate public input. “I think we are rushing into this, and after looking into what other communities have done with these comprehensive plans, my concerns continue. While I understand there are elements of these plans that we like and can be pleased by, I think we are rushing to adopt it.”

But City Manager Marie Garrett replied that the city had been providing more public input than required and had been doing so since March.

That plan calls for the corridor to transform into a walkable area with retail, dining options and a mix of high-end and affordable housing.

Key parts of plan include looking at potential uses of specific parcels of land in the corridor, including underdeveloped tracts.

The plans can be found on the city’s website at www.brookhavenga.gov.

Ann Marie Quill

Ann Marie Quill is Associate Editor at Reporter Newspapers.