Maps, markers and neighborhood discussions made up much of Brookhaven’s “character area” studies, which recently wrapped up with recommendations on what to do in several of the city’s residential areas.
The major takeaway from the meetings — held in various city neighborhoods — can be boiled down to one simple phrase: “A strong desire for net zero gain in density.”
Other concerns include developing affordable housing on Buford Highway; watching how development affects infrastructure and the environment; creating buffers between single-family residential neighborhoods and other uses; and addressing issues raised about the Brookhaven Peachtree Corridor Overlay District, where residents have been battling to keep high-density apartment complexes and mixed-use developments off Dresden Drive.
Mayor John Ernst called for new studies of neighborhoods identified as “”character areas” of the city shortly after he took office in early 2016. He said residents did not feel they had enough input into the city’s original neighborhood zoning plans. A planned zoning rewrite of the city is expected to begin early next year and will take into consideration the new character area studies. The City Council hired Sycamore Consulting for $83,000 to facilitate studies.
A final proposal outlining ideas and recommendations for the character areas is expected to be presented to City Council in December, with planned adoption of the character area studies in January, spokesperson Ann Marie Quill said.
Some new proposals came out of the character area discussions. A neighborhood commercial redevelopment at the corner of Windsor Parkway and Osborne Road was suggested. Residents argued the site, where Avellino’s restaurant is located, was ripe for more neighborhood-scale commercial development.
Another proposal suggested transforming Clairmont Road, considered by some as a “gateway to Brookhaven,” into a boulevard to include sidewalks, streetscaping, bike lanes and neighborhood scale mixed-use residential and retail developments.
Pocket neighborhoods were also a popular discussion item during the studies. Pocket neighborhoods are “small groups of neighboring houses gathered around a shared open space such as a courtyard, garden, alley or pedestrian walkway,” according to the preliminary study presentation.
Pocket neighborhoods are tucked into existing neighborhoods and could fill a need for more affordable housing in Brookhaven, the study states. One such location for a pocket neighborhood includes the Morrison Farm property in the Lynwood Park neighborhood.