Brookhaven residents are meeting with DeKalb County officials and representatives of an Atlanta developer to discuss the design of a proposed Walgreens drug store. Some residents argue the proposal doesn’t fit development plans for the Brookhaven area.

Joel Putterman is one of several residents who helped draw up Brookhaven’s development guidelines imposed through a zoning “overlay,” a set of additional rules imposed on buildings in a designated area. He called the building proposed for the corner of Peachtree Road and Colonial Drive an attempt to “creatively interpret” the guidelines.

“This is not a cookie-cutter site,” Putterman said. “They’ve got a formula [for the design of Walgreen’s buildings]. This is not a formula neighborhood. It’s a very unique neighborhood.

“The community is not anti-development. It just wants the development to be done in the spirit of the hard work everyone has done to deliver the best direction.”

But Laurel David, the lawyer representing GLM Development Co., which is developing the building, said extensive changes already had been made to the building’s design to meet requirements of the overlay zoning.

About a dozen changes were made to the plans, she said, including moving the building to the street side of the property, extensive changes to the façade and moving the front door so it faced Peachtree Road.

The biggest dispute between the developer and the residents appears to be over whether the development plans meet requirements that buildings within the area be at least two stories tall.

GLM’s proposal calls for a second story that covers 30 to 35 percent of the building, David said. The area will contain offices, she said.

Residents say that’s not enough.

The Brookhaven overlay district, residents said, requires construction of “urban” buildings in the area around the Brookhaven MARTA station. “Approving this plan would be negating the principles of this [area],” Putterman said. “If they were really serious about a retail store in this location, they should really get innovative.”

County planning officials are considering whether the second floor as proposed meets the requirements of the overlay district, said David Cullison, a senior planner with DeKalb County.

Also, the Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to consider on August 10 a request from the developer to close an existing curb cut on Peachtree and create another in a different location.

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Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.