Brookhaven’s Planning Commission voted unanimously July 6 to deny approval for a proposed mixed-use building on the city’s booming Dresden Drive that includes 113 apartments.
The developers now go before the City Council on July 26 for a last pitch to gain rezoning approval to build the apartment building and retail space on the 2-acre lot at the corner of Dresden Drive and Appalachee Drive.
Woody Galloway, attorney for Terwilliger Pappas, developers for the property called Solis Dresden, said the proposal is not expected to be pulled and will go before the council later this month. During the next three weeks, developers will continue to work with residents to try to come up with a plan that is agreeable.
Galloway began the meeting asking for a 30-day deferral of the Planning Commission vote, but no board member made a motion to do so. That opened up the meeting to approximately an hour of public comment from more than one dozen people, including an 8-year-old girl, all opposing the development.
Opponents, many of them wearing red shirts, packed City Hall to show they do not want more high density development — specifically apartments — constructed on Dresden Drive, a corridor that is based in the midst of several single-family residential neighborhoods.
“I think you can see by the number of red shirts behind me we have a connected community,” neighborhood advocate Jen Heath said to the Planning Commission.
Residents brought up traffic issues that already exist along Dresden Drive and how congestion would worsen with more apartments. The increased traffic would then lead to more cut-through traffic, street parking and more people “honking their horns,” said Karen Dernavich, who lives in the Ashford Park neighborhood.
Dernavich also brought concerns of capacity for storm water and sewer. “I respectfully request you do not put the cart before the horse and put infrastructure in place before you start building,” she told commissioners.
Terrell Carstens said the area for the proposed development is in a residential area. “Dresden Drive was not to become apartment row,” she said.
City staff has recommended denying the rezoning request, but Galloway said the city only considered the plan submitted to the city April 1 and has not considered “substantial” changes made since then after meeting with the community to hear their concerns and needs.
For example, the original plan called for 121 apartments and now the plan calls for 113 apartments and 8 for-sale townhomes, he said. The development would be 3,600 square feet for residential and 9,000 square feet for the ground floor, which he said developers anticipate being a restaurant and retail stores.
Galloway also said developers are willing to spend $1.2 million to provide 44 free public parking spaces on the property.
Planning Commission members were not impressed, however.
“Sometimes it doesn’t fit,” said John Funny of the proposed development. “We in Brookhaven want to protect our quality of life.”