DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council settled a controversial measure that will allow a unification of the Dunwoody Village Overlay District rezoning.
At its Sept. 27 meeting, the council voted to incorporate two parcels that had been excluded from the overlay district because of a conflict over an existing buffer zone behind the commercial properties and homeowners in The Branches subdivision.
The controversy has been brewing since last year, when city planners proposed a sweeping overlay district rezoning that, among other things, could reduce 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. Residents said they were fearful that the property owners would develop the land between the properties.
The City Council then excluded the properties at 5500 Chamblee Dunwoody Road and 1244 Dunwoody Village Parkway in the ordinance, vowing to revisit the matter after the disputes were resolved. However, the neighbors felt left out of the process and asked for further meetings between the city, the property owners and affected residents.
Prior to the Sept. 27 vote, Dunwoody Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt outlined several modifications and conditions to the DV-1 zoning, which included increasing the undisturbed buffer from 35 to 50 feet and reducing the open space so that the remaining at 150 feet.
The conditions also included specifications about specimen tree removal, the type of lighting allowed within the 150-foot open space area, a ban on above-ground structures in the open space area, and other conditions relating to fencing.
During the public comment portion section held before the meeting, Dunwoody Homeowners Association President Bob Fiscella said that although the neighbors whose properties are not completely on board with the compromise, they “do understand that they don’t own the property in question.”
“They are pleased, albeit not totally satisfied, that the city and the commercial property owner went back to the drawing board and the commercial property owners stepped up and made concessions to ease some of the homeowners’ concerns, and we thank council members (Tom) Lambert, (Stacey) Harris and (Ardy) Bastien for their help,” Fiscella said.
After Leonhardt’s presentation, the council commended all the parties for working together to reach an agreeable compromise.
“I’m extremely grateful to everyone involved who spent lots of time working on this, and I am pleased that this was able to happen,” Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch said.
In other action, the council:
• Heard a presentation from Georgia Department of Transportation officials about proposed lane closures along I-285 starting in October. However, on Thursday, the GDOT announced that the closures would be postponed until June 2022 because of concerns about the potential for massive traffic jams.
• Authorized the Police Department to sell three surplus vehicles to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Department.
• Approved $29,000 in CARES funds to be spent on COVID vaccines and health screenings on Oct. 23 to be coordinated with Latino non-profit groups.