The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a proposal to expand and renovate a market building on Dresden Drive despite claims from some residents that the plans could weaken the Brookhaven community’s special zoning overlay.
The board voted 6-1 to approve a series of variances sought by owners of the building at 1388 Dresden Drive to allow expansion and renovation for Savi Urban Market. Board member Liz Beyer voted against the request. About three dozen residents attended the board’s meeting in Decatur on March 14.
The market’s owners plan to spend more than $1 million to expand the building from about 2,400 square feet to more than 8,500 square feet, said lawyer Doug Dillard, an investor in the project. The project will add a second floor to the building, which was built in the 1960s to house a convenience store, Dillard said. The building stands at the corner of Dresden Drive and Caldwell Road.
Dillard said he thought the planned market would fit into the Brookhaven overlay district. The overlay zoning requires that buildings be more than one story tall and maintain an “urban” feel.
“We’re taking a non-conforming building and bringing it more into conformity than it is today,” he said.
The variances approved by the board will allow the retention of parking spaces in front of the market building as it faces Dresden. The county’s zoning staff had opposed granting the variances. Dillard said the cost to raze the building to meet the county’s requirements would be about $350,000 and made the project financially prohibitive.
Dillard told board members the plan had “tremendous support” among the project’s neighbors. He said about 1,000 people had signed a petition supporting the market’s plans.
Some residents told the board in person that they supported the change. “It’s tremendous,” said Jefferson McConkey, president of Village Park at Brookhaven.
But Jim Eyre, vice president of the Ashford Park Civic Association, argued that granting the parking variances could open a door for future requests for variance from the rules of the overlay district, which residents developed with county officials and now want to maintain.
“This plan clearly does not comply with the spirit of the overlay…” Eyre said. “There are long-term considerations.”