The property owner of four tracts of land at the corner of Dresden Drive and Appalachee Drive said the Brookhaven City Council’s recent decision to deny a rezoning request for a mixed-development to be built on the site was “arbitrary, capricious and was not supported by any evidence” as well as unconstitutional.

Dresden Properties, represented by the Galloway Group, filed an appeal in DeKalb Superior Court on Aug. 23 against the city and the individual council members requesting the the court to order the city to reconsider the rezoning application within 60 days.

City spokesperson Ann Marie Quill said the city had no comment on pending litigation.

The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously at its July 26 meeting to deny a rezoning request for the proposed Solis Dresden development that included 113 apartments, eight for-sale townhomes, 9,000 feet of retail space to include a restaurant, and 3,600 square feet of live-work units, along booming Dresden Drive.

Dresden Properties and its manager John Carlos allege in their complaint that the current zoning of the property “imposes a significant detriment to the property.” The approximate 4 acres of property is currently zoned residential and office-industrial; developers were seeking to rezone the property PC-2, or pedestrian community, that allows for mixed-use development.

The litigation seeks to also have the current zoning of the property to be “unconstitutional, illegal, null, and void, and result in a taking of the plaintiff’s property without just compensation.”

The council vote followed the Planning Commission’s vote to deny recommending approval of the request as well as the city staff’s recommendation the rezoning request be denied. Terwilliger Pappas was seeking to rezone four tracts of land at the corner of Dresden Drive and Appalachee Drive to build Solis Dresden, a four-story apartment complex with a restaurant and retail on the ground floor.

Artist rendering of Solis Dresden from Appalachee Drive.

But over many months, residents fought the development, showing up to the Planning Commission and City Council meetings wearing red shirts to show their opposition.

At the beginning the July 26 meeting, the developer’s attorney asked to withdraw its rezoning request without prejudice.

However, several residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to ask the council deny the rezoning request rather than accept the withdrawal or defer the vote.

Dozens of homeowners opposed to the Solis Dresden development attended the July 26 City Council meeting wearing red shirts, several with these logos. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

Laurel David, attorney for the developer from the Galloway Group, asked for the withdrawal of the rezoning request because she said the property owner would not be able to develop the property for two years if it was denied. City Attorney Chris Balch said there is a law that allows the rezoning request to be made again in six months and that the council could choose to decide to take the matter up before two years.

Developers met with community members over the course of several months in large meetings and in smaller meetings and despite many changes to the project, those living in the surrounding neighborhoods could not support the development.

Residents told council members that while they don’t oppose development, they can’t support more apartments on Dresden Drive. And while the developers did make some changes to their original plans, the changes never met the requests by residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Councilmember Bates Mattison pointed out at the July 26 meeting that Mayor John Ernst was seeking a six-month moratorium on high density development — that was approved during an Aug. 19 special called meeting — as a direct result of the backlash from residents to the Solis Dresden project and another proposed and contentious project, Dresden Village, also on Dresden Drive.

The moratorium is to give the city time to “provide clarity and welcome developers who share our vision of a city that is a model for future urban development,” Ernst said.

The City Council agreed to a 90-day deferral for Dresden Village rezoning request, which includes 194 apartments, at its Aug. 23 meeting. Residents said they supported the deferral at that meeting.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.