As the city of Brookhaven moves forward with plans for a mixed-use development on Dresden Drive, neighboring residents have concerns that proposed changes would increase cut-through traffic on their residential streets.
Dresden Village, a development by Connolly Investment & Development, is planned for a 4-acre lot on Dresden Drive near Caldwell Road, a site currently occupied by a DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office.
The city approved rezoning for the development in 2017, despite some residents’ concerns about increased traffic in the area. The development was set to break ground in 2018, but stalled. It was revived in August when the Brookhaven Development Authority approved an up to $13.5 million tax break for it under the codename “Project X,” garnering pushback from DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader for taking tax dollars away from the county government and school system.
Developers requested the tax break because of the increased scope of the project, which includes streetscape and traffic changes, Connolly CEO Timothy “J.R.” Connolly said.
Some of the changes are intended to alleviate traffic troubles on Dresden Drive. The project is slated to remove one of the two traffic lights near each other on Dresden Drive, which city officials say creates traffic congestion. It will also extend Green Meadows Lane across Caldwell Road and to Dresden Drive.
The existing traffic light at the intersection of Ellijay Drive and Dresden Drive would remain, and the intersection would include a turn onto the extended Green Meadows Lane. The traffic light at Caldwell Road and Dresden Drive would be removed.
Neighboring residents on either side of Dresden Drive worry that the Green Meadows extension will invite drivers to cut through their residential streets.
“You’re now feeding this dangerous traffic in the Ellijay neighborhood and the Green Meadow neighborhood,” resident Amanda Gano told city officials during an Aug. 31 town hall. “Nobody’s been able to produce a study that this is not going to cause harm to our families and that this is the better option.”
Councilmember Madeleine Simmons said in the town hall that part of the reason for those traffic changes is to eliminate the cut-through traffic that’s already happening because of congestion on Dresden Drive.
Councilmember John Park said the city is open to hearing community input regarding specific configurations of the Green Meadows and Caldwell Road intersections with Dresden Drive. One idea may be making some of the side roads one way so traffic does not flow into the residential areas.
Once traffic patterns in Brookhaven return to normal — meaning students are back in school and people are back in offices for work — Public Works Director Hari Karikaran said the city will conduct traffic studies to evaluate the proposed changes on the traffic in the area.
“Once we collect the baseline data, we’ll know the traffic impact and come to the public with it to receive input and come up with solutions,” Karikaran said.
City officials focused the town hall specifically on traffic changes for the development and said they would have more community meetings regarding other elements of the project.