Residents praise decision not to exempt bank property from zoning restrictions
This aerial photo shows the site at 3920 Peachtree Road where Chase bank had hoped to develop a branch. To the right is Kauffman Tire.
Supporters of Brookhaven’s special zoning district see the recent defeat of a bank’s zoning application as a big step toward making their goals for Brookhaven a reality.
The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals denied Chase bank’s application for several variances to Brookhaven’s overlay zoning district on June 13.
The bank had hoped to build a branch on Peachtree Road. Chase asked the county for exceptions to Brookhaven’s overlay zoning requirements, including a request to build the bank 54 feet from the road – rather than the maximum 20 feet prescribed by the overlay – so the building can continue to share an easement with its neighbor, Kauffman Tire.
One of the overlay’s main requirements is that buildings be constructed no more than 20 feet from the sidewalk. The goal is to make the buildings easier to access on foot, rather than having a parking lot between the building and the sidewalk, as is customary in many suburban strip malls.
Kathy Forbes, a member of the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance, applauded the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision to deny the variances.
“The fact that they stood behind the [overlay] is very significant,” Forbes said. “It’s a win for Brookhaven.”
Forbes said she and others have been frustrated by businesses hoping to move to Brookhaven that continually try to get around the zoning ordinances to use their standard corporate building designs.
“It’s important to note that we believe Chase bank would be a great addition to Brookhaven. We only ask that they respect our vision for a better Brookhaven,” Forbes said.
Carl Westmoreland, an attorney for Chase, said the bank was disappointed by the board’s decision.
“I don’t know that that’s a very rational outcome,” Westmoreland said. “I think it’s a fairly bizarre result because it means they can’t do anything with the property.”
Westmoreland said the same person owns the Kauffman Tire property and the parcel next to it, where Chase had hoped to locate. The two share the easement, and Kauffman is not willing to give up or relocate the easement.
Westmoreland said the only other option for the property owner would be to ask Kauffman Tire to leave and the business still has 13 years remaining on its lease, Westmoreland said.
“As long as the Kauffman Tire easement is there… it’s apparent they’re not going to be able to do anything else with the property,” Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland said he has recommended that Chase appeal the ruling. However, he said, neither Chase nor the property owner has made a decision yet. “I don’t know what they’re inclined to do,” Westmoreland said.