The Brookhaven Planning Commission voted April 4 to recommend approval of a the rezoning of slightly more than 15 acres on Bramblewood Drive and including two parcels on Buford Highway to make way for a 197-unit townhome development.

Renderings of proposed townhomes to be built on Bramblewood Drive off Buford Highway. (City of Brookhaven)

The developer for the proposed project is The Ardent Companies. The addresses of the proposed rezoning to multi-family residential are 3178 and 3186 Buford Highway and 29 single-family houses at 1933-2046 Bramblewood Drive, a cul-de-sac. Density for the proposed project is 12.73 units per acre.

Neville Allison, director of The Ardent Companies, pitched the plan at a community meeting last year and to the Planning Commission as providing an affordable housing option for the city that is currently struggling with how to ensure affordable housing options for residents. The townhomes would be priced in the $300,000 range, Allison said.

A condition set by city staff is to require the developer complete an Affordable Housing Impact Statement to the Community Development Department “quantifying the proposed development’s impact on the existing affordable housing inventory in the city.”

Properties located near the proposed townhome development.

The Affordable Housing Impact Statement will also “provide quantitative analysis of existing and proposed site conditions, and shall be submitted with the Land Disturbance Permit application,” according to a staff memo.

Requiring developers to come up with Affordability Housing Impact Statements was one of the recommendations made by the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force presented to the City Council last year.

Allison noted that the city has yet to define specifically what affordable housing is itself, but said it is typically based on the area median income (AMI). Allison said in his research, the AMI for Brookhaven is $100,000. For a person making between $80,000 to $120,000 and spending at most 35 percent of their income on housing, payments could run up to $2,400 a month on these townhomes and be considered affordable, Allison said.

AMIs typically include a regional area. Those living in apartments on Buford Highway surrounding this specific proposed development likely do not make an annual salary of $100,000, according to data compiled by the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force.

A Google Map image of Bramblewood Drive, marked with the red pin. Cross Keys High School is to the upper left.

Allison went on to say many townhome developments in the city, including some of his own, have displaced lower income residents living in aging apartment complexes.

“That’s not the case here,” he said. “We’ve assembled $340,000 ranch homes and are making the argument [our development] will be more affordable than what is there today.”

City staff is also requiring the developer construct a 10-foot multi-use path from the public sidewalk along Bramblewood Drive to the Cross Keys High School property boundary for future connectivity to the school — essentially creating a bike and pedestrian path from Buford Highway to the high school.

The developer is also being required to install bike racks, benches and trash receptacles on Buford Highway. Allison said he is interested in possibly having a bike share program at the development to allow residents a chance to ride a bike to a nearby restaurant.

There were some questions about the number of trees that will be cut down to make way for the development. The area is currently a suburban cul-de-sac with many trees.

Allison said the bulk of trees will have to be cut down, noting that while saving trees is important there are “competing interests” at play in this project. “The way to get affordability is to add density,” he said.

The Ardent Companies had also asked to purchase the right-of-way on Bramblewood Drive, but the City Council denied that request, according to Allison.

No additional curb cuts on Buford Highway are part of the proposed development.

The proposal now goes to the City Council for final consideration.