Brookhaven City Council unanimously voted on Jan. 10 to pump the brakes on Buford Highway development, calling for a six-month moratorium on all land use petitions and land development permits.
The ordinance was proposed by Councilmember John Funny, whose district includes the Buford Highway corridor. He said the moratorium will not affect current development proposals, like the adaptive reuse housing project presented to the Planning Commission last week.
While the area is under a moratorium, the city is planning to review current zoning ordinances, survey residents about what they envision for the corridor and update the comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is reviewed and revised every 10 years.
“[Buford Highway] is a very unique corridor. It offers great diversity. It has a lot of mom and pop residents, restaurants and businesses. It also has a high percentage of Hispanic brothers and sisters, and we want to make certain that there’s affordability in this corridor as it changes,” said Funny. “Having workforce housing, as well as affordable housing, is a vital component that must be there to survive, thrive and be successful.”
Any development projects already submitted to the city prior to the moratorium will follow the city’s process.
Patrice Ruffin Dowdell, assistant city manager, said at the Jan. 10 city council meeting that the ordinance is based on “some applications for undesirable uses that the Community Development Department has been receiving along the corridor.”
“There are opportunities for new development or redevelopment along Buford Highway. And upon looking at the different plans that we had, I feel that we need to put the pause on so that we can clearly promote a plan on what we would like to see along Buford Highway,” Funny said at the City Council meeting.
Lily Pabian, executive director of We Love Buford Highway, said her organization is looking forward to working with Brookhaven on the vision.
“We Love Buford Highway hopes to be part of City Council’s ‘special Buford Highway plan’ discussions and decision-making processes that best retains this corridor’s multicultural identity where so many of Atlanta’s immigrant communities work, live, rely, and play,” said Pabian.
Brookhaven City Council got into legal trouble in early 2022 over a botched development deal off Buford Highway. After a jury found that the city purposefully obstructed the progress of a townhome development project along Buford Highway, a DeKalb County judge ordered the city to pay an estimated $6.7 million to a real estate investment firm and two homeowners, according to the AJC.