Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals - Meeting Thursday Evening to decide fate of new Liquor Store at Winters Chapel & Peeler.

The comprehensive planning sessions for the City of Dunwoody will be starting soon and that is where we as a group will be looking at the various sections of the City and decide what we should look like in the future.

As properties are developed the City Council along with various citizen boards will have a hand in shaping the community. The Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals works autonomous from the City Council and other boards by single handily hearing and deciding applications for variances from the strict application of the zoning regulations.

This evening (Thursday), at 7:00 p.m. the City of Dunwoody, Zoning Board of Appeals will be hearing one of their first cases at The South Terraces Building, 115 Perimeter Center Place. The agenda states (as shown below) that the application is for a variance to reduce the parking requirements for a new structure from the required 37 spaces, down to the requested 19 spaces.
ZBA09-031: Maroof Ullah, owner, represented by Ayyad M. Mansur of Mansur Engineering, requests a variance to reduce the minimum required number of parking spaces at a retail infill redevelopment project from 37 spaces to 19 spaces, a reduction of just over 48%. The subject property is a Shell fuel station located at 5020 Winters Chapel Road, on the west side of the 5000 block of Winters Chapel Road, approximately at the intersection of Peeler Road.
The tax parcel number is 06 280 01 008.
What it doesn't tell you is that the new two story building may contain four businesses, including a liquor store which may or may not be desired by the neighbors to that area? Trust me, I visit liquor stores from time to time and they have their place and this location may be a good one for such a store but I would have preferred that the neighboring community been provided full disclosure of the project details. If that were the case, the community may have have been better represented at the first read of the variance and then the interested community may also have attended Sundays Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting that invited the applicants to present their case to them for their approval?

I have already received several e-mails based on the Crier article showing that the DHA approved the plan, whereby the nearby residents are now wanting more information regarding this project and asking if I can affect the outcome of the vote. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the system is set up so that the City Council is taken out of the appeal process and the complete decision is up to the members of the zoning board of appeals who will decide the matter at tonight's hearing.

I will try to do a better job of reporting the workings of the Zoning Board of Appeals as well as list the other boards (Community Council and Planning Commission) meeting schedules on my side calender. Attached is a tentative zoning meeting calender through the end of the year with the exception to the Board of Appeals. The City is currently listing the agendas of all City Zoning Boards on it's website but I believe the documentation provided on the web could be vastly improved.

If you are interested in the variance request for Winters Chapel & Peeler, please attend tonight's meeting at 115 Perimeter Center Place at 7 :00 p.m.


DunwoodyTalk said...


Can you explain the DHA's authority, if any. in regards to zoning and other issues? As a city council member must you honor their decisions or is the group merely a 'group' of constituents polling their many voices into one?

The DHA attacked an honest man wanting to have a car wash, yet approve a liquor store? Then disapprove of a farmer's market?

DunwoodyPerson said...

I have no respect for the DHA. They make decisions based upon their feelings and pat each other on the back. Their usefulness is over. We are now are own city and their suggestions should be given little merit. If those individuals want power - run for office. Otherwise, there is no need for anyone to try to win their support for anything. Who cares what they say? Dunwoody doesn't have to play the victim anymore; we have our voice now... and it's not the DHA.

Kcaj said...

The DHA never had any true legal authority; however and prior to the CoD, the DHA did police a great variety of zoning issues that impacted not only Dunwoody homeowners but also businesses in the area while the County kinda did whatever it wanted to do.

Now that the CoD exists, I hope/think the DHA may morph into a true HOMEOWNERS advocacy group. Their opposition to the setting of a precedent in allowing a commercial enterprise in a residentially zoned area speaks to that new focus. Jack.

John Heneghan said...

I attended this evenings zoning board of appeals and the Winters Chapel matter was deferred until the next meeting which will take place on June 4th, possibly in the new City Hall.

The other item on the agenda was a request for wing walls on new structures (allows day light basements) that were previously allowed under the DeKalb County Code but interpreted differently by the City. The City is exploring a change to the rule and these structures were caught in limbo. These were approved.

joggerdavew said...

Kcaj: The DHA has no "new" focus, as you say. They have ALWAYS fought, tooth and nail, ANY semblance of business-related activity in "residential" neighborhoods – even denying the right of a woman to conduct one-on-one tutoring in her home, and another homeowner the right to teach private piano lessons. Ask DHA members: they disallow lemonade stands run by your kids. It's true!!! Just wait: want to hold a garage sale in your driveway? With the DHA's sway, you'll soon be stripped of that freedom, because it's a COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE. And according to the DHA, it's flat-out ILLEGAL to "work from home" in Dunwoody, if even one client or customer comes to your door. They are so behind the times it's uncanny. Even in these times of high gas prices, the idea of telecommuting is foreign to the DHA. I challenge someone in Dunwoody to step forward to create a NEW and DEMOCRATIC homeowners association, separate from the tyrannical rule of the current short-sighted DHA leadership and one which truly represents the majority and welcomes input from ALL the people who live here.

Bob Lundsten said...

It is an amazing for me to sit here and read this nonsense being written in this BLOG coming from people who have no earthly idea what they are talking about. It is a funny thing that all of this stuff can be written by people who have never been involved with the DHA, have no real idea of what the DHA does, how they do it or only get upset when something happens in their back yard.
Some of the tyrannical horrible things that you claim the DHA has done are simply not true. NO one I know has ever opposed a lemonade stand or complained about a garage sale and no one cares what color you paint your house or how high your grass may be.
Contrary to what this written in the BLOGS, the DHA worked with DeKalb County to FIX the issue of piano lessons in residential neighborhoods. Our kids play piano too.
The opposition to the tutoring was organized by the Dunwoody North Association and not the DHA. In fact the DHA never had a meeting to discuss the issue because the local neighborhood association took on the issue themselves. For the record, it was not a case of one student coming to a house for one on one tutoring it was about the opposition to the opening of a Tutoring Center. It was about a commercial activity taking place in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Even Councilman Henneghan opposed that idea.
Last week the DHA received criticism from neighbors because they did not oppose a liquor store that was being proposed in a commercially zoned area. The liquor store may not be what the neighborhood wants but it is a perfectly legal use. Still neighbors screamed “where is the DHA and why they are not fighting this”. This was a parking variance issue and NOT a rezoning, but let’s not quibbles over the details. And rather than the neighbors taking responsibility for and understanding what is happening in their own neighborhoods, (the issue had been heard a month before by the BOA, posted on site twice, and in the Crier twice) they complained that no one told them anything. Yet the BLOG quickly condemned the DHA.
Then there is the farmers market. How dare the DHA “oppose” the farmers market? Well if any of you had taken the time to truly find out what was going on you would have seen that the DHA had no opposition to the market, just that the City should not be changing a code that would grant special privilege to one particular commercial use at Places of Worship (zoned residential). We left DeKalb County to get away from that political pandering. The city has a responsibility to conduct business for the city as a whole, not for the benefit of a few. Now it seems the City has found a way and a place to have a farmers market that requires no zoning changes thanks to the hard work of members of the City council. “Go figure”.
The DHA has no illusions of power. They fully realize that what they bring to the table is decades of experience in Zoning and a historical perspective to a new and relatively in experienced City Council. We have no and have never claimed any formal authority. And while I may personally disagree with some of the positions that some Council members take on issues, I and I believe all of the DHA board understands that the City Council is THE authority and have our respect for what they do each and every day.
The DHA is being described as if it was some dark secret brotherhood. How stupid is that.
Every year they BEG for people to get involved with the Community. They seek out new Board Members. They hold open meetings every month for neighbors to come and ask questions and air concerns. The DHA secures agreements with developers, both large and small that the city cannot secure or enforce. They do so, not because the board is power hungry, for the money (there is none) or the thanks and recognition, but because they care about the residential community of Dunwoody. They are also willing to put their names out front and take whatever heat or criticism that may result from the board’s actions.
It is easy to sit back and criticize behind a cloak of secrecy that the internet and Blogs provide. It takes true character to stand up at public meetings or forums and speak, then face the consequences of your actions. Only cowards throw rocks and accusations in the dark of night without knowing of which they speak.

JerryGarcia said...

Are you feeling alright?

Bob Fiscella said...

Thanks Bob! It would be wonderful to see a full house at a DHA meeting or even a city council meeting. A lot of folks like to talk the talk, but when it comes time to walking - they're nowhere to be found.

Sight Edman said...

Cityhood has always been an uphill battle and its proponents won an 'easy' victory by scheduling the referendum on 7/15 in the middle of vacation season and in an a presidential election year. This resulted in a bit of baggage as we move forward. There is the perception, widely promoted, that there is almost universal support for the city. "81%!!! It's a landslide!" Indeed it was, except for the fact that fewer than 50% even voted, though many more and much better informed voters would have weighed in had it been scheduled with the primary or general election. The reality is that barely a third of registered voters said "Hell Yes!" to cityhood (thank goodness the council requires a quorum), so it should be no surprise to anyone that there is a silent majority that might one day speak up, perhaps in a forum of their choosing. Nor should anyone be surprised that these are voices of criticism and dissent seemingly from those who see themselves as somewhat disenfranchised.

As for discounting any opinion or observation because it isn't made in person at someone else's preferred venue, well at first blush that just seems so last millenium. While these digital forums provide only asynchronous communications and do not allow one personality immediate rebuttal or the opportunity to redirect the conversation, that in no way diminishes the validity of a particular observation or position. Only facts and logic do, and this forum has on occasion shown it supports both.

The challenge facing critics is to obtain facts, often not readily available, and draw logical conclusions and form sound opinions based on these facts. The criticized must try to both understand the concerns and motives underlying the criticism and to improve the debate by finding those things, few though they may be, that have merit. The challenge to everyone in any civil debate regardless of venue is to avoid invective.