The city of Brookhaven denies it did anything illegal when it rezoned a parcel on Dresden Drive for a mixed-use development and states the opposition by one resident in a lawsuit to the added activity the development will bring is part of “normal, urban growth and development.”
In its April 11 court filing in DeKalb County Superior Court, the city states a lawsuit filed by resident Steve Pepmiller should be dismissed because his allegations that his neighborhood will be inundated with traffic, that schools and utilities will be overburdened and that his property values will be lowered are “mere inconveniences that are insufficient to establish standing as a matter of law.”
“[P]laintiff’s reference to ‘excess and burdensome use of the existing streets, transportation facilities, utilities, and schools’ are impacts that would be felt, if at all, by every property owner in the community,” according to a motion to dismiss from the city. “[S]uch inconveniences are merely a ‘condition incident to urban living’ which result from ‘normal, urban growth and development.’”
Pepmiller’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
Pepmiller, who lives on Caldwell Road adjacent to Dresden Drive, sued the city in February alleging the city illegally zoned the nearly 4-acre parcel of land where the DeKalb tag office is currently located. The rezoning makes way for the construction of a 5-story complex with 169 apartments and retail shops on the ground floor. The development will also include a six-level parking deck, seven for-sale townhouses facing Caldwell Road and the Dixie Moon restaurant on Caldwell Road.
Pepmiller was one of dozens of people who showed up at City Hall to oppose the project during the months before it was finally approved by the City Council in January. Pepmiller and others said the development would lead to a “concrete canyon” on Dresden Drive; Pepmiller also said in his lawsuit that the rezoning decision is unconstitutional and is actually “spot zoning.”
The city in its motions to dismiss denies the allegations and states Pepmiller does not have standing to sue.
“[T]he ‘injuries’ alleged by Plaintiff are merely ‘inconveniences’ that necessarily result from the expansion of thriving communities such as the city of Brookhaven. These inconveniences, however, cannot be used to establish standing, especially when they are equally inconvenient to all members of the community,” according to the motion to dismiss.
“For the same reason, Plaintiff’s reference to decreasing property values, safety and crime risks, decreased buffers, noise nuisance, light pollution, water runoff and disturbance of views are also insufficient to establish standing. Nowhere in the Complaint does Plaintiff set forth facts that demonstrate how these injuries would affect his property any differently than other similarly situated property,” according to the motion to dismiss.
The city’s attorneys further state that Pepmiller fails to identify in his lawsuit how the development would directly affect him differently than his neighbors and, they state, the lawsuit should be dismissed.
“In short, Plaintiff’s interest amounts to nothing more than that of a ‘champion of a community’ who seeks to have regulations strictly enforced for the ‘benefit of the general welfare of the community or general enhancement of property values.’ … His claims should therefore be dismissed,” according to the city.