Kirk Bishop of Duncan Associates talks to Dunwoody residents about the upcoming zoning rewrite process.

The city of Dunwoody asked residents for their input on the most important zoning issues facing the city at a meeting to kickoff the rewriting of the city’s zoning code.

Consultants Duncan Associates and Houseal Lavigne Associates told residents what to expect about the zoning rewrite process and led a discussion to find out what is most important to the community.

When Dunwoody was incorporated as a city, it inherited DeKalb County’s zoning code. The city hired the consulting firms to tailor the zoning code to the city’s needs. It will likely take between 12 and 18 months to complete a draft of the code before it goes through a public hearing process.

“We’re really at the stage of the process where we’re learning about you as a community,” said Kirk Bishop, executive vice president of Duncan Associates. “We really want this to reflect your values and needs.”

Bishop said a draft of the new code will likely be available for review in about a year.

About 30 people came to the Jan. 24 meeting. Each was given an index card and asked to write down the five most important zoning issues facing Dunwoody.

After discussing the issues, the consultants took a straw poll to identify the priorities.

The majority of people felt that density, especially as it relates to the burden on infrastructure, is the most important issue. Clarifying the regulations for home businesses was next. And making sure that the city’s zoning code is clear and easy to understand was also important to the group.

“More and more people are doing some work from home. That’s something this ordinance will definitely address,” said John Houseal, director of community planning for Houseal Lavigne. “Zoning needs to be fair. People need to know what they can and can’t do.”

Other issues identified as priorities by Dunwoody residents included drainage; stream buffers; landscaping and streetscaping; recognizing the unique character of different areas of Dunwoody; maintaining the buffer between residential and commercial areas; and maintaining a business- friendly environment while protecting residents.

The focus of the rewrite will be on two chapters of the code: land development and zoning.

“This is about taking some ordinances that were kind of written from a one-size fits all perspective and tailoring them,” Bishop said.

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