Dunwoody city officials have approved a plan for the redevelopment of All Saints Catholic Church’s campus that includes a controversial parking deck.
After deferring the request at a March 23 council meeting to allow time for a hydrology study, the issue came before council again on May 26. City Engineer Rich Edinger said the results of the study showed the proposed construction will improve storm water runoff.
“A wooded site generates the least amount of storm water runoff,” Edinger said, noting that the effect of proposed construction would make any storm water issues better and not worse.
So, the decision hinged on the parking deck issue.
“I am pleased that a hydrology study reveals the storm water impact post development will be less than today,” Councilman Terry Nall said. “For me, I’m really left with [concerns about] the parking deck.”
Because All Saints is in a residential area, with neighbors who would have a view of a multi-level parking deck, council members debated whether or not approval of the project would be in the best interest of nearby homeowners. Neighbors spoke against the proposed deck during past council discussions of the project. One neighbor called the church’s plans “irresponsible.”
The parking deck is part of the church’s long-range plan and will not be constructed for years.
“Our job here is to ensure the proposed development is compatible with the adjacent single-family homeowners, otherwise we wouldn’t require a [special land use permit],” Nall said. “To me a parking deck in a single-family residential area is just not compatible with the adjacent homeowners.”
Nall added that he felt wary about setting a precedent. “I think it’s a dangerous decision on our part,” he said.
The parking deck will be built to look like an enclosed building, Dunwoody Community Development Director Steve Foote said. The church also planned to install lighting on the parking deck that wouldn’t be visible to neighbors.
“You’re looking at a concrete wall with windows, not a parking deck,” Heneghan said, describing the changes made to the design. He said noise wouldn’t be a factor, nor would aesthetics.
Councilman Doug Thompson said he believes the plans will solve some of the existing traffic problem when Mass lets out.
Councilman John Heneghan read an email sent in by resident Lyle Spencer, who in March spoke out strongly against the parking deck. In his email, Spencer said he was okay with the plans concerning parking because the deck would look like an enclosed building.