On March 5, 2013, approximately 15 Dunwoody residents gathered in city hall to learn about and discuss proposed changes to chapter 16 of the city’s code—Land Development Regulations.
The meeting began with a presentation by community development director Steve Dush and the city’s zoning ordinance consultant, Kirk Bishop. After a welcome and general introduction by Dush, Bishop explained that the initial draft of chapter 16 includes several technical changes that bring the erosion control, stormwater management and floodplain regulations into alignment with rules promulgated by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District requirements and one important proposed modification to the city’s stream buffer regulations.
To kick-off the public discussion, Bishop posed a question to group that had arisen in the previous evening’s Sounding Board meeting: Should some form of tree preservation requirement apply to residential property (home) owners? Bishop and Dush explained that the city’s tree protection regulations do not currently apply to single-family homeowners who wish to remove trees from their property. Under county rules in effect before the city was formed, homeowners were required to notify and request review by the county before removing significant trees or large numbers of trees. These rules were eliminated upon formation of the city.
Not surprisingly, those in attendance offered wide-ranging opinions on the tree issue. Some felt strongly that no regulations were needed or desired, with many citing the lack of problems that have been observed since the county rules were eliminated. Others expressed the opinion that some form of inexpensive, expeditious and reasonable review by the city would be wise to prevent negative impacts for neighbors and the community at-large.
Following the tree discussion, city engineer Rich Edinger gave a presentation on proposed changes to the city’s stream buffer regulations. The rewrite of chapter 16 includes new stream-related definitions that will, if adopted, have the effect of exempting “ephemeral” streams from compliance with 75-foot stream buffer requirements. This change will significantly reduce the number of stream buffer variance requests heard by the zoning board of appeals. Those in attendance indicated strong support for these proposed changes. Also discussed was the idea of changing the city’s current 75-foot “no encroachment” buffer rule to one that requires a 50-foot no encroachment buffer plus a 25-foot no impervious cover buffer. In the end, most attendees seemed to support a change to the stream definition but not necessarily a change to the 75-foot no encroachment rule.
At the close of the meeting Steve Dush explained that a revised, illustrated draft of chapter 16 (land development regulations) and chapter 27 (zoning ordinance) will be prepared over the coming weeks. This draft will be revised by the city’s sounding board. After that, the formal review process will begin. with reviews by the community council and hearings by the planning commission before moving on the mayor and council.
An initial draft of the fourth and final ordinance rewrite module is now available for review. HOLD THE DATE: This draft document will be the subject of a public meeting on March 5, 2013 (time and location to be announced).
On January 24, 2013, over 50 Dunwoody residents gathered in city hall to learn about and discuss the latest draft of the city’s new zoning ordinance (January 11, 2013 “Consolidated Public Review Draft”)
The meeting began with a presentation by community development director Steve Dush and the city’s zoning ordinance consultant, Kirk Bishop. After a welcome and general introduction by Dush, Bishop explained that the latest zoning draft consolidates the three ordinance “modules” presented to the advisory group (Sounding Board) and community over the past year and incorporates several changes based on the public input received to-date. Dush further reiterated that the city highly values public involvement in efforts such as this and that additional public input opportunities will be provided in the near future.
Bishop’s overview of the January 11 draft focused on the following key issues/changes:
- The prohibition of multi-family development in the O-I district
- The creation of a new (CR-1) mixed-use zoning district (§27-5.20)
- The addition of new contextual setback regulations to the residential infill section of the ordinance (§27-9.170)
- An update of the home occupation regulations (§27-10.30)
- A general reduction of many motor vehicle parking requirements (§27-12.20 + §27-12.40)
- The addition of incentives to encourage provision of bicycle parking incentivized (§27-12.50)
- New pedestrian circulation requirements (§27-12.90)
- New “drive-through” regulations (§27-12.110)
- The elimination of community council review requirements for SLUPs (special land use permits)
- The allowance of “concurrent variances,” which will allow variances to be processed with simultaneously with applications for rezonings and special land use permits (using same decision-making criteria as used by ZBA)
Attendees asked a number of general and specific questions, but the main topics of interest at the January 24th meeting werebicycle parking and concurrent variances. At least two or three speakers were very critical of the proposal to allow concurrent variances. At least one speaker made a strong plea for mandating (as opposed to incentivizing) bicycle parking, which drew support from several attendees. Other people, however, voiced support for encouraging bicycle parking and working with businesses to build greater support for bicycle infrastructure in the community. Dush and Bishop encouraged attendees to continue to advocate for their positions and reminded attendees that changes to the draft regulations are possible once the public hearing process begins.
The next round of public meetings on the new zoning ordinance and development regulations is expected to occur in March 2013.
An initial consolidated public review draft of Dunwoody’s new zoning ordinance is now available for review. It includes all material presented in modules 1, 2 and 3 and responds to many of the comments received to-date.
On October 2, approximately 25 Dunwoody residents gathered in city hall to discuss Module 2 of the draft zoning ordinance, dealing with administration and zoning procedures.
The meeting began with a presentation by the city’s zoning ordinance consultant, Kirk Bishop. Bishop explained several new ideas included in the draft of module 2, including “concurrent variances,” elimination of time limits on special land use permits, reworked “administrative adjustment” provisions and minor changes to the ordinance’s nonconformity regulations.
The opening presentation concluded with an explanation of the process currently used for approval of zoning amendments and special land use permits in Dunwoody. Bishop pointed out that the city’s existing approval process includes more meetings and takes more time (approximately 4.5 months in the best case scenario) than the project team has observed in most other jurisdictions. He then explained a series of options that could potentially be used to make the process more efficient, focused and meaningful for participants.
Following the presentation attendees broke into small groups to discuss zoning procedures and administrative matters, including nonconformities. These “break-out” group participants were asked to weigh in on whether they believed the city’s zoning process could be improved and, if so, how?
Meeting participants offered a variety of opinions. Some expressed the view that the process may not be perfect but it seems to be working. Others identified specific ideas for improvement, including:
- Combining the neighborhood meeting and the community council meeting into a single pre-submittal meeting
- Increasing the (mail) notification radius beyond the current 500 feet
- Eliminating requirement for a 2nd reading of ordinances by city council
- Requiring better tracking of plan changes between meetings
- Instituting a “tiered” review process for different types of applications, based on likely impacts (i.e., fewer impacts = more expedited review; greater potential impacts = more rigorous/lengthy review)
- Soliciting public input after first reading of the ordinance by city council.
Module 2: "Administration and Procedures" available for review and comment:
Public meeting to be held October 2, 2012. Time and place to be announced.
On August 1, 2012 a public meeting was held at the Dunwoody Methodist Church to review and discuss the first module of the city's new proposed zoning ordinance. Module 1 of the zoning rewrite covers zoning district and use regulations.
After brief opening remarks and an overview of the material included in module 1, the 50+ attendees broke into five small groups to discuss several key topics. During these small group discussions, residents were asked to offer their thoughts about (1) whether multi-family residential uses should be allowed in the city's O-I (office-institutional) zoning district; (2) whether additional guidelines or zoning controls were needed to help ensure that new single-family residential "infill" would be compatible with existing neighborhood character; and (3) whether the proposed new home occupation regulations included in the Module 1 draft were a move in the right direction.
As in past project meetings, attendees offered a range of opinions on these an other topics. In general, however, there was widespread agreement that new multi-family development should not be allowed in the O-I district...that new multi-family development should occur in multi-family residential districts or mixed-use districts, not in zoning classifications that are "advertised" as office districts.
On the subject of residential infill, attendees offered thoughtful perspective from multiple points of view. Some recognized that there have been instances of tear-downs and replacements that have resulted in houses that seem out of character with their neighbors. Others were quick to note that a rush to over-control what some seem as "out-of-scale" infill construction could have the effect of discouraging reinvestment and diminishing viable housing choices for growing families looking to relocate. In fact, all of the groups expressed a desire that the city allow opportunities for modernization and replacement of smaller homes with new investment. Most groups mentioned support for the existing height regulations, and some mentioned setbacks and building footprint or coverage as other issues that might at least be researched.
The draft home occupations were fairly well-received by all groups, although again diverse opinions were offered. Some felt that all home occupations--subject to strict but reasonable residential "character" standards--should be allowed with only administrative approval. Others felt that home occupations involving customer/client visits should be subject to some form of public review and approval. All groups agreed that the initial draft was a good first start toward a Dunwoody-style approach to this issue.
Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Module 1: Zoning District Framework available for review and comment.
On the April 26th the city's zoning consultants presented an overview of the Concepts and Directions report. The meeting, held at Dunwoody Baptist Church, was attended by a few dozen citizens, including several city council members and board and commission representatives. Following the presentation, attendees were asked to weigh in with their thoughts about issues that should receive priority attention during the ordinance rewrite. While much discussion centered around home occupations and stream buffers, several other issues were identified.