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Posted by on February 22, 2013.

City looking ahead to future MARTA plans

Brookhaven City Council is looking to create a development authority that would have the ability to influence an impending development around the Brookhaven MARTA station.

The development authority would be an autonomous board with the power to take out bonds to finance big projects for the city.

Interim City Manager Marie Garrett said the seven- to nine-member authority would act as the economic development arm for the city.

“The beauty of the bond-inducing power of the authority is it does not take away from the borrowing capacity of the city,” Garrett said.

Garrett told council members one of the most pressing reasons to form a development authority would be to gain “a seat at the table” when MARTA redevelops its Brookhaven station.

Interim City Attorney Bill Riley suggested the city create a development authority and come up with a conceptual plan to present to MARTA in the next six months.

Riley said though appointed by City Council, the development authority would be an autonomous board with a lot of power.

“It’s very important that you pick people of like mind that are going to be on that authority,” Riley said.

Mayor J. Max Davis chose not to appoint members to the development authority at the Feb. 12 meeting, when he swore in members of other boards, including the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. “I don’t want to rush the Development Authority” Davis said.

Lyle Harris, a spokesman for MARTA, said the Brookhaven station is one of 10 “focus stations” identified by MARTA, based upon an analysis conducted in 2012. In an email, Harris said no specific timeline has been established for the redevelopment of the Brookhaven station.

“We have made informal contact with the new planning director, Kevin McOmber, and are working to set up a formal, staff-level introductory meeting to discuss the future of the station and how MARTA can partner with Brookhaven on redevelopment of MARTA-owned property within Brookhaven,” Harris said.

In 2005, the Atlanta Regional Commission conducted a Livable Center Initiative Study, which identified the area around the Brookhaven MARTA station as a location for mixed-use, transit oriented development. The plan was also to include a new Brookhaven library branch.

But the economic downturn and MARTA’s own budget issues stalled the project in 2011.

Harris said, “MARTA is still open to collaboration on the library, but have not had recent discussions while the city of Brookhaven has been established.”

He said MARTA still plans to use the LCI plan as the blueprint for any development. “A major criterion for our developer selection will be how effectively the developer has incorporated the LCI Plan into his/her proposal,” Harris said in the email.

Councilman Jim Eyre, whose district includes the MARTA station, said he’s glad the LCI study led to an overlay zoning district that will lead to better development in the heart of the new city.

“I’m glad that the community had the foresight to start that process and get it done well before market forces began to put the Brookhaven MARTA station on several peoples’ radar screens,” Eyre said. “We have guidelines that will at least give us a good starting point for whatever ends up happening out there.”

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