Nearly 100 Brookhaven residents showed up at an informal meeting at City Hall to voice their opposition to a proposed 17 townhome development on Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
The meeting, hosted by District 1 Councilmember Linley Jones, was organized to allow residents have input on the proposed rezoning to make way for the development of 17 townhomes on the property located at 3697, 3705 and 3713 Ashford-Dunwoody Road near Blackburn Park.
The rezoning request goes before the City Council on April 26. Jones said the developer, Mike Embry of Embry Group, asked her to hold the meeting to ensure the community knew about the project. Jones said she also wanted to make sure more people knew about the project because it seemed to have “flown under the radar.”
The rezoning request is recommended by city staff but on April 6 the Planning Commission voted no to recommending approval. Three houses built in the 1970s are currently located on the property; they are now duplexes. The property backs up to Bubbling Creek and single-family neighborhoods.
Peter Cabrelli, who lives in Cambridge Park, drew applause when he said he was tired of “constant pressure” from developers coming into Brookhaven wanting to change what the city was originally designed to be.
“The city of Brookhaven was developed and created to maintain a style of living … to keep growth and concentration of housing from growing,” he said.
“All we want to do is maintain what we have – it’s why we worked so hard to create this little city,” he said.
The townhomes would be three stories high with a two-car parking garage as the base floor. Cost for each of the units will be in the $400,000 range, Embry said. Total time for construction would be approximately two years.
Many people voiced concern about more traffic on Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
Attorney Jill Arnold of Pursley Friese Torgrimson in Atlanta said a traffic study was conducted and showed the new development would only add 13 trips during morning peak hours and 14 trips during evening peak hours.
“The numbers you throw out about traffic we know are false. We’re not fools,” Cabrelli said. “It’s going to be a nightmare.”
“I understand there is traffic out there,” Arnold said. “I’ve been on Ashford-Dunwoody. That’s a bigger issue.” She also said Brookhaven is a “very desirable place to live” and the city needs to direct that growth on major thoroughfares such as Ashford-Dunwoody Road in order to leave established neighborhoods alone.
The “bigger issue” of congestion on Ashford-Dunwoody Road is currently being looked at as part of a corridor study, said Jones.
Jones said the city is also considering approving impact fees that could mandate new developers behind new development along Ashford-Dunwoody Road pay for renovations to the road to help lessen congestion.
Claudia Harry of the Friends of Blackburn Park said she and other members worried if the rezoning for this development is approved then it will set a precedent for other developers to be able to come in and push through a project without much citizen input by “flying under the radar” as mentioned by Jones at the beginning of the meeting.
“We do not want more density. I commend you on your beautiful renderings … but what you present is not beautiful to our community,” she said.
Many people also voiced concern about the wooded area and Bubbling Creek located behind the property and how the development would affect wildlife. City screening of the application plans show there would be no major environmental harm done to the area, but residents remained skeptical.
Scott Naylor said he recently moved to Brookhaven from Buckhead and loved the peace and quiet of his neighborhood near where the proposed development would go.
“We love the trees. We have wildlife. It’s amazing and we love it. The prospect of this going in is so discouraging,” he said. “I’m in construction. I understand — but just not there. It’s a small piece, we d like to preserve it. I’d like to see the city buy it and add that to Blackburn Park. We just don’t want to see that area get developed.”
Embry acknowledged he would like to purchase other property along Ashford-Dunwoody Road for more residential development.
“I don’t want Ashford-Dunwoody to become Buford Highway,” said one man.
But development is going to happen, Embry said, and it was important communities come together to ensure it is good development.
“Development is going to come from Chamblee or somewhere else and there will be cutting through [traffic]. It’s everyone working together to get good development … or ignoring it will come,” Embry said.
But Alan Mick questioned if this would actually be good development.
“As the gateway to Brookhaven, there has been much discussion on a concept and vision for the Ashford Dunwoody corridor including an on-going study which is still not completed yet,” he said. “It seems to me that until we know what the ultimate goal is and where we want to be in the future, including whether they want to widen the road, all of these rezoning requests are kind of a patchwork approach that does not necessarily take us in the correct direction to reach the overall target, once it is established.”