The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously June 12 to put a 6-month moratorium on new development along Buford Highway as city staff wraps up recommendations for a citywide rezoning rewrite that will include an overlay district for the corridor.

The moratorium went into effect immediately.

The proposed zoning rewrite ordinance is expected to be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council in September, according to Community Development Director Patrice Ruffin. Should the council adopt the zoning ordinance rewrite before the moratorium expires on Dec. 31, the council would be able to lift the moratorium sooner, she said.

Ruffin explained the city has received applications for development on Buford Highway that do not fit in with the city’s comprehensive plan for the corridor known for its international businesses and restaurants and immigrant communities. The moratorium stops the applications from coming in while the zoning rewrite is completed, she said.

In May, the Planning Commission rejected a rezoning request on Buford Highway to make way for a self-storage building citing it did not fit in with the comprehensive plan for the area. The developer withdrew its request.

The shaded areas on the map are considered part of the Buford Highway Improvement Area now under a 6-month development moratorium. (City of Brookhaven)

Speaking in favor of the moratorium during public comment at the June 12 meeting was Marian Liou, founder and executive director of We Love BuHi. We Love BuHi is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of Buford Highway and strengthening the multicultural communities that live and work there through events, storytelling and advocacy.

She said keeping the “status quo” until the new ordinance is adopted is supported by her organization. She also asked the City Council and staff to define what success means for what happens on Buford Highway.

“Before the 6 months moratorium commences, before we get too much further into the final recommendations of the zoning rewrite, I just ask everyone here to ask themselves what success means and for whom,” Liou  the council.

“I would propose that we define success as the ability of every current resident or business owner who wants to remain on Buford Highway to be able to do so,” she said.

The people who currently live and work on Buford Highway should be of the the highest priority when considering the rezoning and an overlay, Liou said.

“We believe success to be the preservation of what truly makes Buford Highway, Buford Highway – its people,” she said. “In response to every immigrant’s declaration that they are here to stay we say yes, y’all belong here.”

In a press release, the city stated a final draft of the rezoning rewrite for public viewing is expected this month.

Dyana Bagby

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