The Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District is set to get a new look as part of a rewrite many residents living near the area have been seeking.

City Council voted Feb. 28 to approve awarding a $135,000 contract to Atlanta-based urban planning firm TSW to rewrite the Overlay District that includes Dresden Drive, Peachtree Road and Oglethorpe University. The rewrite will be finished in six months.

The main complaint residents have against the current Overlay District is density. Current code allows for nearly 60 residential/apartment units per acre while residents have argued that 30 to 35 units per acre is more in line with what they want, especially along Dresden Drive.

The Overlay District rewrite is part of the city’s rewrite of the entire city zoning rewrite.

In 2015, the city hired Duncan Associates to rewrite the city’s zoning code. Shortly after Mayor John Ernst took office, in 2016, he postponed the zoning rewrite until after a reworking of the city’s comprehensive plan was completed. Ernst said he wanted the comprehensive plan review because he heard from many residents saying they did not have enough input before it was adopted in 2014.

As part of the comprehensive plan review, the city last year hired the Sycamore consulting firm to conduct meetings with residents to determine how they wanted the city’s neighborhood character areas to develop into the future.
TSW will use those character-area studies and recommendations as part of its Overlay District rewrite, according to the scope of services provided to the city. TSW will also conduct at least four public meetings.

Residents and developers have clashed at numerous public meetings on the proposed developments that include apartment buildings with retail on the ground floor on Dresden Drive.

Homeowners living around Dresden Drive packed City Hall several times last year wearing red shirts to show their opposition to the proposed developments that they say encroach on their neighborhoods with increased density and more traffic.

In August, Ernst called for, and the council approved, a six-month zoning moratorium in response to the community backlash. It expired Feb. 19.

In January, the council approved the controversial Dresden Village mixed-use development that has about 48 units per acre. It is being built on Dresden Drive on the current site of the DeKalb County tag office.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.