An approved change to Dunwoody’s Planned Development (PD) district will allow for some developers to apply to the zoning district with smaller projects. 

At its May 10 meeting, the Dunwoody City Council approved a change to the PD district, a special zoning district that allows for developments that might otherwise not fit the city’s zoning code. To apply for the PD district, developers are required to have an Overall Development Plan (ODP) already in place. The ODP would override any conflicts with the city’s zoning code. 

Before the council May 10 council meeting, the minimum land requirement for the PD district was five acres. The approved amendment lowers the minimum land requirement and allows for different minimum requirements for different character areas outlined in Dunwoody’s 2020-2040 Comprehensive Plan. 

For developments in the city’s suburban neighborhood and institutional/campus character areas, the minimum land requirement for the PD district will be 4.5 acres. For all other character areas, the minimum land requirement will be 1.5 acres. 

City staff says the change will streamline the zoning process. In the regular zoning process, if an applicant wanted to bypass the zoning code, they would have to go before the Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) after receiving approval from the City Council. But, because the PD district’s ODP overrides the zoning code, the ZBA would not be included in the process. 

Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt said not having to include the ZBA could shave about three months off the process, because that’s how long ZBA meetings must be advertised to the public. 

The council approved the amendment to the PD district unanimously, but the amendment went through a few iterations before the council accepted the change. City staff originally proposed changing the minimum to one acre, but at a March 9 Dunwoody Planning Commission meeting, the commission recommended raising that slightly to 1.5 acres. 

City staff still recommended moving forward with one acre when they brought the amendment before council, but at an April 12 meeting, the council expressed concern that too small of a land requirement would infringe on residential areas. In response to this concern, city staff suggested having different minimum land requirements for different character areas. 

The council also approved a change which would allow the Planning Commission to defer zoning proposals to the PD district up to three times. 

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.