The controversial Dresden Village mixed-use development could break ground this year after a lawsuit to try to stop the project was dismissed and a settlement reached.

Steve Pepmiller, a resident living on Caldwell Road, sued the city and developer of the project last year after the City Council approved rezoning four acres of property between Caldwell Road and Dresden Drive to make way for the five-story mixed-use development that would include seven for-sale townhomes, 169 apartments, more than 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and a six-story parking deck.

A rendering of the planned Dresden Village mixed-use development that could break ground this year. (City of Brookhaven)

Pepmiller sued to try to stop the rezoning, but on Feb. 26 he dismissed his lawsuit against the city and developer SSP Dresden after reaching an undisclosed settlement with the developer.

Pepmiller’s attorney, Lawton Jordan, of the firm Williams Teusink LLC, did not return calls seeking comment.

Brian Fratesi, vice president of development and acquisitions for Connolly Investment & Development, who is affiliated with SSP Dresden, said plans are to start building this year.

“We are excited to announce that the lawsuit has been settled. While we are not at liberty to disclose the details of the settlement, we can confirm that it has been settled and we are moving forward with the development,” Fratesi said in an email.

“We expect to start demolition and break ground later this year. We will have more to announce as we get closer to groundbreaking,” he added.

The settlement was reached and lawsuit settled after the City Council in January hastily called for a 35-day zoning moratorium after City Attorney Chris Balch said the city’s zoning code did not include conditions and variances that were approved by DeKalb County before the city was incorporated.

Balch said the “gap” in the zoning code was discovered as the city prepared to go to trial in the Pepmiller lawsuit. The City Council voted Feb. 27 to amend its zoning ordinance to include the conditions and variances and the moratorium was lifted Feb. 28.

Pepmiller alleged in his lawsuit, filed in DeKalb Superior Court, that the city did not follow legal procedure when it approved the Dresden Village development.

Residents, including Pepmiller, against the project packed City Hall to voice their opposition. They argued the 5-story complex would create a “concrete canyon” along Dresden Drive and take away from its village appeal.

The developers said their dozens of meetings with residents led to a better project that included several revisions to the site plan. Connolly lowered the density from an original plan that included 206 apartments with no for-sale townhouses.

There are 473 parking spots planned for the entire development. About 180 will be open to the public for shopping and for the planned Dixie Moon restaurant by renowned chef Scott Serpas.

Construction is expected to begin this fall and take two years to complete. The parking garage structure will not be started until the DeKalb tag office on Dresden Drive and within the development property is relocated and a timeline for that has not been determined. A 2016 request for proposal for the design and construction of a new tag office was canceled Feb. 13 due to insufficient funding for the project, according to documents on DeKalb County’s website.

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

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