The Brookhaven Planning Commission has deferred a decision on an application for a rezoning that would allow the construction of a DNA testing facility. 

The proposed facility would be located at 3020 Clairmont Road. During a Nov. 3 planning commission meeting, the applicant requested a property rezoning and numerous concurrent zoning variances to build the medical office building. 

The location and zoning map for 3020 Clairmont Road.

The main variance the planning commission took issue with was the reduction of a buffer between properties on the western rear lot of the property. The variance suggests reducing the transitional buffer from 50 feet to 15 feet.

During a Nov. 3 Planning Commission meeting, the applicant, Brookhaven resident Vesa Pylkkanen, and city staff said reducing the buffer would create more space for a parking lot behind the new building, which would keep the parking lot away from the street. 

“We do not have any access for parking that is available in that area, and that’s why we are asking for the variance,” Pylkkanen said. 

However, some property owners in the area worried the lack of transitional barrier would disturb the residential nature of the neighborhood. One resident said she worried diminishing the buffer would negatively affect her privacy. Another resident, Debra Freer, said she worried about the new construction as well. 

“Any development on that corner – although I’m impressed that it’s a single tenant possibility – is still a concern in terms of our quiet enjoyment of our residential property, in terms of light, sound, water, and certainly traffic,” Freer said. 

Many members of the Planning Commission had similar concerns to the residents who spoke, and suggested the applicant instead come up with a site plan that would allow for parking in the front of the building. To move forward in that manner, the applicant would have to apply for a variance that would allow him to bypass the section of the code that prohibits parking in front of a building.

“I am really concerned about shrinking that buffer from 50 feet to 15 feet,” said Commissioner Kevin Quirk. “I understand the overall idea that we want the buildings close up to the street and we want the parking behind, and that’s all consistent with what we’re trying to do in Brookhaven … but when that happens, I think the parking ends up behind and often times, like in this situation, it can affect homeowners. And that’s where those buffers just become vital.”

The application is expected to go before the Planning Commission again in 60 days. The entirety of the meeting can be watched on Brookhaven’s Facebook page. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.