Facing an unpopular proposal to build townhomes on Ashford-Dunwoody Road, city officials are pushing for something different: a park and development creating a new city “gateway.”

“This is a special piece of property,” City Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams said during the March 24 council meeting. “It’s our gateway. … I’m suggesting something new. I’d like the city to explore dividing up that property and at least taking the front half of it for a linear park or green space. … We haven’t even begun to imagine the possibilities for this site.”

City Council delayed a vote on a rezoning proposal for 60 days to allow time for discussions among city officials, the property owners and the developer about alternative plans for the land. Williams said part of the land yet might be developed, but the portion along Ashford-Dunwoody could be included in a new study the city plans for the road corridor.

“I don’t want to let this opportunity pass and lose forever this corner,” Williams said.

Her proposal drew applause from members of the audience attending the meeting.

Lawyer Doug Dillard, who represents developers planning townhomes on the property, called the proposal “an idea worth exploring.”

“We’d rather work it out than go to court,” he said. “The property owners are frustrated because they’ve sat on this property a long time.”

Jim Parks, who owns one of the homes, worried the proposal would become “another way of stalling” redevelopment of the property. “It may be a very good idea, but how long must we wait?” he said.

The council also agreed March 24 to spend $125,000 from Homeowners Option Sales Tax funds to pay for a new study of traffic on the Ashford-Dunwoody Road corridor and of better ways to handle bicycle and pedestrian traffic

“There are no plans to four-lane [Ashford-Dunwoody], but we’ve got to look at better ways to handle traffic there,” Williams said. “Time is too valuable to be sitting there in traffic. We’re also about to fund a pedestrian and bike plan. What if we run a path up Ashford-Dunwoody Road?”

The townhome proposal has produced strong opposition from its neighbors.

Rockhaven Homes has proposed building 36 townhomes on 4.7 acres at Ashford-Dunwoody and Oak Park Drive. The owners of the property say it no longer makes sense for it to be used for single-family homes because of traffic on Ashford-Dunwoody, and that the existing houses should be replaced with more homes.

“That property has numerous limitations…,” said Clay Parks, whose family has owned a house in the area since 1966. “Nobody wants to live in a single-family home up against that traffic.”

But nearby residents argue the single-family homes still could find buyers and the proposed townhouse create too dense a development.

“It’s too dense for the population, too dense for the sewers, for the schools, for the traffic,” resident Noelle Hooge told the council. “The homes that are there are acceptable, better than acceptable.”

“What’s being proposed today is five times the density of our neighborhood,” Clay Robertson said.

“Everybody stands against this,” Alan Cole said.

Despite “numerous meetings,” the developer hasn’t been able to reach an agreement with surrounding neighbors on how the land should be developed, said Dillard, who argued the townhomes would provide a transition between the single-family neighborhoods and nearby commercial and office developments.

“This is the gateway to Brookhaven,” Dillard said. “It’s to do something nice. It’s time to get rid of six detached 1950s houses that are not doing anything for your community. We’re a city. … This is not the Spruill farm any more. … It’s time to think like a city. If you want this to be the gateway to Brookhaven, let’s do something nice.”

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.

5 replies on “Unpopular townhomes plan leads to proposal for new Brookhaven ‘gateway’”

  1. Dillard?? Doug Dillard?? Again?? I’ve been dealing with Doug Dillard since the Lake Hearn project in the 1970’s. His reputation has long preceded him. Whatever we decide here will involve millions of dollars, thousands of lives. and years of change. “It’s time to think like a city??” OK. Let’s think like a city that wants to be proud of its long term legacy. Let’s think like a city that can occasionally say “enough! no more!! and make it stick!!–Tom Reilly

  2. Yes but a linear park? How much money will it cost? Is this really the best use of city funds. I don’t think so. And Rebecca Williams talks as if they can fix the traffic on Ashford Dunwoody. You never can. The more turn lanes you put in the more traffic that will be drawn to Ashford Dunwoody. Its like water and a drain. Make one drain bigger and more water goes down it.

    Would love to see her finally do something about pedestrians and bikes.

  3. Would love to see something done to help control Ashford-Dunwoody becoming the carpool lane for Montgomery as well, especially heading towards 285. I don’t understand how that hasn’t been addressed already, even if only extending the length of the turn lane.

  4. I applaud the “there’s no rush” to develop philosophy, there’s sanity in the “we want something special here”, there’s near brilliance (compared to the norm) of saying “it’s too much for the infrastructure”. Take some time, get it right for once. That sentiment extends to all of Brookhaven.

    Mr. Dillard, IMHO, exerts far too much influence in our city, it’s unhealthy and, frankly, suspicious.

    1. Good for you, Tom Porter!! Well thought out, well expressed!! I’ve known [and helped defeat] Doug Dillard more than once. We go back to the infamous Lake Hearn project in the 1970’s–the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a development that would have sucked the region dry–“private property rights.” We were able to hold off Allbritten [??] Development out of Texas, famed architect I. M. Pei, and some of the shadiest maneuvers ever until the developer collapsed under it’s own weight. Dillard’s presence is just what you said–unhealthy and suspicious. He only functions because of the people who support him.–Tom Reilly

Comments are closed.