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City Council defers decision on Dunwoody Village properties

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DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council again deferred action on incorporating two Dunwoody Village properties into the city’s overlay district, citing ongoing negotiations with neighbors who will be affected by the new zoning.

After a brief presentation from Dunwoody Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt at the council’s Sept. 13 meeting, Councilwoman Stacey Harris asked for the two measures associated with the incorporation into the overlay district be deferred for two weeks.

“Councilman (Tom) Lambert and Councilman (Ardy) Bastien and I met with the neighbors last week for about two hours,” Councilwoman Stacey Harris said. “We feel strongly, that in two weeks, we can put our Village District to rest.”

Tempers flare over proposed buffers for Dunwoody Village

The controversy has been brewing since last year, when city planners proposed a sweeping overlay district rezoning that involved, among other things, reducing the land buffer that neighbors behind the commercial properties feared would intrude on their backyards.

Hours before the massive overlay district was to come up for a vote in late 2020, a lawsuit was filed by attorneys representing the affected neighbors, contesting the proposed 150-foot land buffer between the commercial and residential properties.

The City Council then excluded the properties in question in the ordinance, vowing to incorporate them back into the zoning when the disputes had been resolved. While a compromise was reached between the commercial property owners and the city that called for a 35-foot buffer with 115 feet of open space, the affected neighbors in the Branches subdivision protested, saying they had been left out of the process and questioned what could be erected within the open space.

HOA official blasts city leaders for accommodating developers

At a public hearing Aug. 23, a dozen residents spoke in favor of keeping the buffer at an average of 150 feet, citing agreements made in the 1970s between DeKalb County and the original owners of the Shoppes of Dunwoody. However, according to all parties, the executed agreements can’t be located — only drafts, or unsigned documents.

At the Sept.13 meeting, Harris said she felt that all groups were close to a compromise that would satisfy everyone.

In other action at the meeting, the council:

• Listened on first reading, text amendments to land development regulations and zoning ordinances intended to clean up confusing language and further define specific processes for appeals and other administrative actions.

• Deferred action for a month for further study on an overhaul of the city’s sign ordinance.

• Amended the 2020-21 budget to reflect the addition about $2 million in federal, relief and state grant fund.

Cathy covers local government and community news for the Dunwoody area.

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