Brookhaven Council Approves Dresden Village Mixed-Use Development
By Trey Benton
January 25, 2017
Brookhaven Councilmembers voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Dresden Village, a mixed-use development on 3.73 acres along Dresden Drive between Caldwell Road and Parkside Drive. The approval came with 31 conditions. The Council approved the project with 7 for sale townhomes, 169 apartments, 20,700 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant, a 6-story parking deck with 473 spaces and allowed a controversial 5th story on the apartment buildings.
Timothy “J.R.” Connolly II, Chief Executive Officer of CONNOLLY, the project developer, told Councilmembers they have followed the process and where the project is today largely reflects the incorporation of items the community asked for, such as an ownership component and lower density than their initial 60 units per acre plan filed back in April of 2016. He said over the course of the process, they made several revisions to their plans that reduced density below levels the community suggested.
“Over the past 14 months, through countless meetings, phone calls and emails, we have worked with the community, who have provided a tremendous amount of input and have changed the plan from initial submission to today’s better plan,” J.R. Connolly told Councilmembers. “The neighborhood has had a profound say in the formulation of this project.”
The project has been met with a considerable amount of community opposition, however, and Tuesday was no exception. Residents continued to express their concerns, many of the same concerns shared at numerous community meetings about the size of the development, traffic and the impact on the character of the community.
Ashford Park resident Karen Dernavich delivered a revised presentation, and said the City’s code referred to the area of Dresden Drive where Dresden Village will be constructed as intended to be developed as medium density multi-story mixed use. She said language has been removed from the code that defined anything as more than 30 units per acre and 5 stories in height, as very high density. “Not one resident would be given this many shots at rezoning,” Dernavich said.
Terrell Carstens from Brookhaven Fields questioned how the Council could be hearing a plan that was only received four days ago that includes a major modification due to the fact the Serpas restaurant square footage being increased in the new site plan. She said that requires the case to be sent back to the Planning Commission.
Speakers in support of the project said they think the Dresden Village project will make the area better, improve stormwater management and will bring in more restaurants and needed parking.
Billy Roberts, speaking on behalf of the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance and in support said, “On this particular process there has been a long process, significant community involvement and the developer CONNOLLY has made a sincere effort to make changes. The density they are asking for, they are entitled to because of the Overlay and because they’ve got 32% greenspace on the site.”
Councilman John Park, who represents District 2 where Dresden Village will be constructed, made the motion to approve the application. “For me, what it basically comes down to is balancing the property rights of the owner with the health and welfare of the neighborhood, and so we have to look at all of those various components,” said Park. “At the end of the day I know I’ve made alot of people unhappy, but I know in my heart of hearts that I’ve done my job here.”
District 3 Councilman Bates Mattison seconded the motion. The vote was 4-0 in favor. Because the new site plan did in fact include what would qualify as a major plan modification because of the Serpas restaurant square footage increase, Council only approved what was presented in the December 27th plan. Connolly said they will make allowances somewhere in the plan to offset the difference.
Councilwoman Linley Jones expressed her appreciation for the passion and input that has come from all sides on this issue. She said the many emails the City received were taken into to consideration when formulating Council’s decision. “We all want what is best for our City, we truly do,” said Jones.