The Dunwoody City Council wants redevelopment in the Dunwoody Village Overlay to include housing — just not 3,000 residential units.

That was the dilemma Mayor Lynn Deutsch and the council discussed during an Oct. 7 special-called work session to hash out a rezoning plan for the Dunwoody Village Overlay, which they want to be a more urban and “energized” area.

Deutsch and other council members agreed that people need to live within Dunwoody Village to give it more character and spur shopping and retail development. But the council balked at the possibility of having up to 3,000 residential units within the Village, which city Community Development Director Richard McLeod said is the maximum number the rezoning would allow.

“It is the commercial center of Dunwoody,” Deutsch said. “How do we come up with a plan that gets us where we want without the potential of 3,000 units of housing?”

new dunwoody village zoning map
A map of the new zoning districts included in recommended zoning changes to the Dunwoody Village overlay. (City of Dunwoody)

The council and staff never agreed on a solution on how to both encourage and regulate housing in the Village. But staff is set to bring back a rezoning plan for a council vote at either the Oct. 26 or Nov. 9 meetings.

The city started a zoning rewrite of the 165-acre Dunwoody Village Overlay to create a more walkable, bikeable downtown in an area that is considered by many as the heart of the city and covers the intersection of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Mount Vernon roads. The rewrite is considered a long-term plan to have in place for when new developments may come to Dunwoody Village but does not propose specific projects.

The Dunwoody Village Overlay now includes three suburban shopping centers with expansive surface parking lots; several auto-repair shops and gas stations; office buildings; banks; and the Dunwoody United Methodist Church.

McLeod said the possibility of all developers coming into the area and building the maximum amount of residential units is not realistic, but Deutsch said she didn’t want to find out whether that would actually happen.

“We just have to communicate carefully to developers,” Deutsch said. “I understand we need to have some housing in the Village because we don’t get the amenities we want without housing. We need more people that live there.”

The Dunwoody Village Overlay rezoning would create four separate districts with different land uses: DV-1 is Village Commercial; DV-2 is Village Office; DV-3 is Village Residential; and DV-4 is Village Center. Building heights would range from three stories closer to single-family neighborhoods to five stories in the central area of Dunwoody Village.

Owner-occupied multifamily units would be allowed in all districts, and townhomes would only be allowed in Village Commercial and Village Residential, said Caleb Racicot, a TSW consultant who is working on the rewrite. Any rental units would require a special land use permit approved by council. Density would be regulated by building height.

Racicot said the zoning for downtown Alpharetta, which the council looked to as an example, requires a special land-use permit for all multifamily housing because of that city’s concerns about density. Brookhaven allows a “relatively low” number of housing units per acre near the Brookhaven-Ogelthorpe MARTA Station and Dresden Drive and requires a special land use permit to go above that number.

Racicot said both those cities had similar concerns about residential density as Dunwoody, so those would be possible solutions.

“Legally I think having a special land use permit for all multifamily housing is the cleanest,” said Racicot, who noted that regulating density was a “policy decision” for council members to decide.

Councilmember Tom Lambert and Pam Tallmadge suggested there could be a cap on housing units within the different zoning districts of the Village to regulated density.

Council members also suggested they want to see other types of housing, such as those geared toward older people or duplexes.