The city of Dunwoody may no longer allow gravel residential driveways. 

The Dunwoody City Council discussed a possible change to the city’s code during a Monday meeting that might ban residents from having gravel driveways. Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt said that the current city code does not specify what sort of materials can be used for residential driveways, but does require that the paved area be less than 35% of a front yard. 

Leonhardt said the biggest draw for gravel driveways is the low cost, but that it requires regular maintenance to remain a pervious material, or a material that soaks up water naturally. Leonhardt also said that while gravel can be pervious, city staff generally considers it impervious. 

“It’s significantly cheaper than other options,” Leonhardt said. “Gravel can be pervious, but it really needs to be properly installed and it needs to be properly maintained to maintain the pervious characteristic.” 

Councilmember John Heneghan said he became aware of the possible need for the change because some residents were complaining about gravel driveways in the area. 

“Pervious pavers, pervious things are important for us to have available for those residents that want to put in a driveway,” Heneghan said. “It’s good for the environment, it’s good for the water flow. I think we want to make sure that we keep that, but as far as the gravel aspect, I would like to explore a change or look for something to modify to limit the amount of gravel driveways in single family residential.” 

Leonhardt said that city staff is considering two options: creating certain maintenance standards for residential gravel driveways or banning them altogether. He also said the council would need to consider whether to apply these regulations to residential driveways only, or also to commercial structures. 

Most council members were supportive of banning gravel altogether. Councilmember Tom Lambert said he would be in favor of eliminating gravel in residential neighborhoods, but maybe not commercial. 

“I think for the – for lack of a better word – protection of the aesthetic standards of our residential neighborhoods, I think I would be in favor of removing gravel as an allowable driveway surface,” Lambert said. “I would certainly be open to discussions on applications in commercial because I don’t want to have unintended consequences.” 

Councilmember Rob Price said he would be in favor of limiting the amount of coverage for a driveway, but he hesitated to say that gravel shouldn’t be allowed at all.

“It’s the idea of, do you have control over your property or not,” Price said. “Maybe a homeowner has a good reason for why they need gravel, and I wouldn’t want to necessarily eliminate that outright without some thought.” 

Mayor Lynn Deutsch said she thought if they came up with regulations for residential driveways they would have to do the same for commercial use. 

The next steps for the change would be for staff to go before the Dunwoody Planning Commission before coming back to the council. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.