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Brookhaven effectively quashes density near MARTA station

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Planning commission vote, while non-binding, reinforces hardline stance on redevelopments in the ITP city

Last night, the Brookhaven Planning Commission voted to deny the application for an apartment-anchored mixed-use development, bowing to vocal neighborhood pressures opposed largely to the density of the proposal.

The project by Connolly Investment & Development and Fairfield Residential would bring residential rentals and retail space to Dresden Drive. The developer has proposed 194 apartments, with a distribution of 70 percent as one-bedrooms and 30 percent as two-bedroom units. They posited that the development would be prime for conversion to condos, yet struggled to substantiate the claims given the size of the units.

Theoretically, the proposal would have sat within walking distance of the Brookhaven MARTA Station transit oriented development, which is expected to include housing, offices, retail, park space, and potentially civic buildings. That project is also mired in controversy.

After 45 minutes of discussion, including 15 minutes each for those in favor and those opposed, the council deliberated on the proposal, at first moving to defer judgement for 30 days. When that movement was defeated 2-4, a second discussion took place which ultimately led to the denial vote of 5-1.

The denial came as Brookhaven takes a hardline stance with developers, contrary to the seemingly endless approvals other municipalities are giving.

However, the denial doesn’t mean the project won’t happen. The Brookhaven City Council has the final say, and will vote on the project near the end of the month. Effectively, the Brookhaven Planning Commission indicated that if the applicant can come to the meeting of the city council with decreased density (the neighbors were pushing for 30 units per acre, or around 100 units total), there could be a big thumbs-up in the project's future.

Time will tell if the stringent approach results in better quality, better planned development, or stagnation due to developers seeking more compromising governing boards.