Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Video and recap from the special Dunwoody rezoning meeting.

Planned Mixed Use Developments with a residential component are currently allowed (with concurrent variances) where there is a plot of land that is 10 or more acres in the Dunwoody Village & Georgetown character areas.  We had a discussion of expanding these developments city wide; therefore I proposed a larger site of 20 acre be needed but Council backed that down to a 15 acre min.  At some point I look for a Perimeter Zoning District to be formed and I would still be fighting for larger areas while others may want smaller limits to create such zoning classifications.

Stream Buffers - Council liked the recommended 75 ft undisturbed area but Councilman Thompson successful argued that items in that last 25 feet should be able to be reconstructed as original without going to ZBA.  Discussed for special exemption on adding vegetation in the last 25 feet as these improvements would slow water flow and add filtration long term.

The home occupation item had little movement, we sped up the overall Special Land Use Permit process for all applicants and then kept the status quo requiring all Home Based Businesses with customer contact to apply for the SLUP which then has to be approved by the City Council.  We did grant educational home businesses operating inside the home to apply for a business without a SLUP thereby granting tutors and music teachers a fast track not available to others.

Household pets were proposed to be limited to not over 3 and Council rejected the thought that any number over 3, would be a nuisance.  Some on Council wanted to define what "Nuisance" was and let Code Enforcement go from there and others wanted to assist Code Enforcement by adding a hard number but then what number should it be?  I was thinking 10 animals but Council decided to put this entire item out of the Code for now.

We discussed community gardens being allowed on church property, rooming house's, the definition of what is a "Household", Apartment reconstruction being allowed as is if the building is destroyed by act of God or arson and many other things.

Look for this to come back to Council on October 14th.


SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Would you please explain:

1) Why in the SLUP process, the initial community notification is only for a predefined radius of 500 feet, yet the final approval process requires "input" from the city at large, including those outside the radius who will not be impacted by the occupation?

2) What protection does a SLUP applicant have against slander and red herring arguments that have nothing to do with the merits of the application? (cf, Heather Chlup's experience with the DNCA leadership) Is a SLUP going to be judged on the data presented, or upon the predetermined opinions and emotions of the city council members?

3) Why you encourage the SLUP process for home business owners who may see a customer at home, but you have not encouraged this same process for clandestine chicken owners, whose activities can also potentially have a negative impact on their neighbors? Same thing for large-scale home gardeners - I believe you mentioned in the video something about people plowing up their entire yards to grow crops. That could be a negative impact that neighbors would want to know about.

Thank you.

John Heneghan said...

SDOC, we made the overall SLUP process shorter and easier for all applications and then made a fast track process for educational applicants as Council saw the value. The SLUP process is now open to most businesses and it is configured to allow neighbors to be informed and voice concerns. Let me try to answer your specific questions.

1, the SLUP process has an open hearing for all to say what is on their mind regarding the application; just as other public hearings allow. There is no telling what could be raised by someone who does not live close to the applicant but I see the value of listening; not as much as the next door neighbor, but value none the less.

2, I believe that case was decided by Council on merits and fact. We have no control over what others say or do.

3, Chickens in Dunwoody, say it isn't so? I am on record of being Pro Chicken and still am but that matter was settled by a previous council and I believe backyard chickens will be raised again at some point by a future council and will some day pass. I don't believe the sounding board discussed the Chicken SLUP but if there is support (by the community and then the council) it could be raised in the first round of possible amendments coming about six months after passage. I asked about gardens because it was raised to me, are they allowed and how big? I have no concern over a large garden being planted but if the community wants limits (% of front or side space?) it could be discussed. I just haven't seen gardens as an issue therefore do not want to be limiting for no reason.

I hope that helps?

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Thanks for the reply, John. I wish you had cut straight to the chase a bit more so just in case it wasn't clear...

1) By determining an "impact radius" that requires notification, you define an area that is potentially impacted by someone's actions. That means everyone outside of it probably will not be. You say there is "value in listening" to people commenting on a very local (neighborhood-scale) issue even if they are far removed from it. What value would that be? Not seeing it from my desk....

2) That particular case was passed **eventually** and after a lot of unfounded angst. The city would have been even more embarrassed by the whole conflict if it didn't pass. Are you sure that didn't come into play?

3)You're right, the sounding board discussed the whole "backyard chicken thing" for about five minutes. The majority decided not to pursue it due to the zoning project as a whole being so huge and that particular issue was especially divisive. The point I was making with this question was that you seem to be very selective about what activities require jumping through hoops at city hall, and what should be permitted by right or admin paperwork. And that selectivity seems to fall along the lines of whether you personally approve of the activity or not. Lynn Deutsch seemed to take that same type of selective approach in that video.

IMHO, your idea of "shortening" a SLUP seems to ignore two basic issues: 1) most communities in the North Atlanta area do not require them for home businesses - based on research YOU requested but did not seem to factor into the decision and 2) was created without any input from non-nuisance-creating home business owners. If the "neighbor" feedback was restricted to just the aformenetioned radius, you might get more compliance. Opening up to a citywide free-for-all continues to make the SLUP something to avoid because it is still a greater process than the alleged "impact" for those who are conscientious neighbors. Bad neighbors won't give a damn and a piece of paper won't change that. Keeping the SLUP may have kept the vigilantes happy, but what else, exactly, did you gain by it? I still don't see hundreds of biz owners lined up to apply. I also don't see complaints about home businesses outnumbering complaints about unkempt yards or animals not properly controlled.