Dunwoody City Council members are pondering what is the “it” that makes Dunwoody Village special as it considers an overhaul of the overlay district known for its Colonial-style architecture to allow for more modern development.

“What is the ‘it’ that makes the Village special?” Councilmember Terry Nall asked at the Nov. 5 meeting. “We want to remove impediments but not destroy what makes it special.”

The Chevron gas station at 5465 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, shown undergoing renovations earlier this year, set the precedent for what is now known as the Williamsburg architectural style required in the Dunwoody Village Overlay, according to some residents. (File/Dyana Bagby)

Consultant Kevin Clark of Historic Concepts, which led a recent community meeting to seek ideas for the overlay and surveyed residents on the city’s website, said he was not sure.

“If you refer back to the survey, what makes it unique is the passion and history behind it,” Clark said. He added, “It may not be that special, it may be convenient.”

Proposed amendments to the Dunwoody Village Overlay are the first steps in a process to update the overlay. Next year, the council is expected to hire a consultant to conduct a more in-depth look at the code for more possible changes.

The City Council earlier this year asked staff to look at potential changes to some of the mandates in the overlay, such as architectural style and parking requirements, in response to requests from residents and developers wanting to create an updated look. There is also a strong desire by many in the city to keep the overlay as it is because, they say, it sets Dunwoody apart from other cities with its unique appearance and character.

Proposed changes include: removing the pre-1900, mid-Atlantic American Colonial style of architecture specified in the code, to allow for some variation in style, while also acknowledging the existing precedent; allowing buildings to be up to three stories and requiring a special land use permit process for buildings taller than three stories; and prohibiting drive-throughs for all new buildings.