So far this year, three developers seeking to build or redevelop in Dunwoody Village were forced to ask City Council to approve more parking for their projects than currently is allowed.
Councilmember Jim Riticher is asking the Community Development staff to tweak the ordinance.
“The way it’s written, everybody wanting to redevelop in Dunwoody Village has to come before us for more parking … and it’s a little bit absurd that we have to touch that element,” he said in an interview.
At the council’s Nov. 14 meeting, members unanimously approved a special land use permit to make way for more parking for developers wanting to build a 5,800-square-foot restaurant/retail structure at the corner of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Mount Vernon roads.
The current Dunwoody Village parking rules mandate three parking spaces per 1,000 feet of building floor area. The proposed development was approved for up to 35 spaces at the site, more than the currently allowed 17 spaces.
The property is currently the site of an abandoned car wash and also where a Phillips 66 gas station once stood. It is located across the street from the historic Cheek-Spruill Farmhouse.
This wasn’t the first time that developers has sought special permission for more parking as development continues in Dunwoody Village. And it likely won’t be the last, Riticher said.
In September, the council approved more parking spaces for the relocation of a SunTrust bank branch office to the site of the vacant Old Hickory House at 5490 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. In August, the council approved more parking for a shopping and retail center proposed as a redevelopment of a shuttered Wells Fargo bank site at the corner of Mount Vernon Road and Dunwoody Village Parkway.
“That’s three for three in the Village,” Riticher said. “The code was well-intentioned, but when we have as much redevelopment going on … it seems out of whack.”
Dunwoody Homeowners Association President and former City Council member Robert Wittenstein addressed the council at the Nov. 14 meeting about the parking restrictions. “I’m an author of parking maximum in Dunwoody Village and when we were working on the overlay, there was the sense in general there was too much parking,” Wittenstein said.
The idea behind restricting parking was to encourage people to walk from other nearby parking lots to their destination, he said.
“The goal was not to create an impediment,” Wittenstein said.
But the proposed development at the corner of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and Mount Vernon Road and the two other sites did not have other nearby parking that could be used by patrons of the planned businesses, Riticher said.
Wittenstein said he supported the SLUP for the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and Mount Vernon Road redevelopment, but hoped there would still be consideration for parking restrictions in Dunwoody Village.
Riticher said he understood the thinking behind the restriction, but is asking city staff to look at tweaking the city code when it comes to developments such as restaurants. “Part of the problem is the linear formula,” he said. “I’m asking staff to take a look at it, because they see some of the same issues we do.”
Laurel David, attorney for developer Crim & Associates, said the additional parking was needed to attract businesses. She asked for parking to be approved up to 35 spaces to allow for five spaces per 1,000 feet for retail and 10 spaces per 1,000 feet for a restaurant.
“This allows us the most flexibility,” she said. “There is a lot of interest in this corner and people would like to see it cleaned up.”
No firm tenants yet have been named for the project, she said.