A developer has received more time from the City Council to gather community support for a subdivision project on Kendrick Road.
The developer and builder, Donald Neustadt, seeks to subdivide a single-family property at 1230 Kendrick Road into two lots.
He told the council that, after receiving pushback from his neighbors during a Feb. 3 Planning Commission meeting, he contacted Councilmember Madeleine Simmons and asked for help organizing informational meetings for his neighbors about the property. At its Feb. 23 meeting, the council deferred the decision on rezoning until its next meeting so Neustdat could have more time to engage with the community.
“Everybody’s on the same page with us giving a deferral and seeing if they can’t work things out between now and the next council meeting,” Simmons said.
Neustadt said developing the 1230 Kendrick Road property as a single-family lot would diminish the value for the owners.
Michelle Gray, the owner of the property, attended the meeting. She said she recently retired and moved to Virginia and was planning on splitting time between Virginia and her home on Kendrick Road until the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way. She said she was “shocked” her neighbors were so against the rezoning.
Neustadt had a similar ordinance approved for a separate property at 1221 Kendrick Road last year in a plan that drew controversy from neighbors for alleged maintenance issues.
At a Feb. 3 Planning Commission meeting, some residents spoke out against the subdivision and raised concerns about other properties Neustdat owns in the area.
Some neighbors said Neustdat has let his properties fall into disrepair, notably the property at 1221 Kendrick Road.
“You guys approved a subdivision for him just this past year, which we did not fight him on,” said Erin Mosher, a real estate agent and Brookhaven resident, at the Feb. 3 meeting. “But now we’re at the point where he’s just acquiring many, many properties and doing nothing with them and allowing them to look horrible in our neighborhood.”
Neustadt said he had never received any opposition to rezoning for any of his properties before.
“This is not collecting properties and letting them go into disrepair by any means. It costs a lot of money to maintain these properties,” he said. “If there was any perceived opposition, we would have asked for a deferral the very first time so we could get people involved.”
Neustadt said work on the property at 1221 Kendrick Road was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit just after the lot was approved for rezoning.
“The property at 1221 that they keep calling into question, I have been working on diligently since the zoning approval last year,” he said. “It has finally, finally been given approval to build on – on Feb. 1, which was two days before the Planning Commission meeting.”
Neustadt said he has already applied for his demolition permits to begin work on the property at 1221 Kendrick Road. He also said another one of his properties, located at 1229 Kendrick Road, recently sold for about $1.1 million. That was confirmed by DeKalb County Property records.
“You can’t tell me my properties are derelict if a house sells for over $1 million,” Neustadt said.
The Planning Commission recommended that Neustadt should not be approved for the subdivision at 1230 Kendrick Road.
Commissioner Kevin Quirk said he did not see a “particularly compelling reason to change the status quo,” and that a builder could profit on the land as currently zoned.
“It might not be a maximum profit,” he said. “But I’ve got to imagine that they could do pretty well.”
Chairman Stan Segal agreed, and said the lot has “reasonable economic value, and can be built on today in its current zoning.”
The commission stressed that while it was sensitive to the neighbors’ concerns, its recommendation was based solely on the current application.
“I think it’s important for [Neustadt] and the public, everyone listening, to understand that every application is unique to itself,” said Commissioner John Funny. “We look at every application individually.”
The application is scheduled to go back before the City Council at its March 16 meeting.