After lengthy negotiations between neighborhood residents and property owners, the last two remaining properties in the Dunwoody Village Overlay District will be rezoned.

During a Sept. 17 meeting, the Dunwoody City Council voted to rezone two properties in the Dunwoody Village – the Shops at Dunwoody at 5500 Chamblee Dunwoody Road and an adjacent carwash at 1244 Dunwoody Village Parkway – from the city’s Local Commercial and Dunwoody Village Overlay District, to the city’s DV-1, or Village Commercial District, and DV-4, or Village Center District. 

The council initially approved a rezoning to make the collection of stores and shopping centers known as Dunwoody Village into a mixed-used development on Nov. 30, 2020. However, the owner of the Shops of Dunwoody sued the city, saying the size of the buffer zone between the Village and neighboring residences limited the available redevelopment area. The city removed the Shops of Dunwoody and the carwash from the rezoning. 

Initially, the city and property owners came to an agreement which would have zoned both properties to the DV-4 district, and left the space between the Village and the nearby residences at 150 feet. Thirty-five feet of that space would have been undisturbed, leaving the remaining 115 feet to be redeveloped into green space.

However, following disputes between the neighbors and property owners about whether that compromise would have violated an alleged 1977 zoning condition of the property calling for at least 150 feet of undisturbed buffer, the involved parties held more negotiations. The new rezoning increases the undisturbed buffer from 35 to 50 feet and decreases the available redevelopment space from 150 to 100 feet. 

Councilmember Stacey Harris said the 150-foot part of the property directly next to the residences will now be zoned to DV-1 to protect those neighbors from any future development. Dunwoody’s DV-4 District allows buildings with a maximum of five floors, while DV-1 allows buildings with a maximum of four floors. Although the buffer between the Village and the neighborhood is required to be open space with no buildings, Harris – who was one of the council members who worked closely with residents to negotiate these terms – said the DV-1 zoning is meant to protect residents from larger developments that could happen many years in the future. 

A rendering of the proposed zoning from the Dunwoody City Council’s meeting agenda.

“I was protecting the residential properties on the west side from any future council,” Harris said. “Zoning conditions can be taken away, they can change. So in my mind, by making the property directly abutting their homes DV-1, it gives them a little bit more protection because of the difference in uses and heights.” 

The negotiations also led to the inclusion of several zoning conditions, including the neighbors’ wish to have a chain link fence installed along the property line, separating the neighborhood from the open space. Residents can read more about the negotiations at the city’s website. 

Representatives for the neighbors and property owners spoke during public comment. Attorney Den Webb spoke on behalf of the property owners, Peachtree Shops of Dunwoody LLC and Sodop II LLC, and said they were in agreement with the terms presented to the council. 

Bob Fiscella, president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, said the neighbors were “pleased, albeit not completely satisfied.”

“While the homeowners hate to lose that 150-foot undisturbed buffer they’ve enjoyed for  over 40 years, at the end of the day, they do understand that they do not own the property in question,” he said. “They are pleased … that the city and the commercial property owner went back to the drawing board, and the commercial property owner stepped up and made concessions to ease some of the homeowners’ concerns.”

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.