Walgreens is once again hoping to build a new pharmacy on Peachtree Road.
For years, the company has been angling to open a store at the corner of Peachtree Road and Colonial Drive, but designs for the store have clashed with the area’s overlay zoning district.
On March 19, Walgreens went before the city of Brookhaven for the first time with a new proposal, requesting nine variances to the city’s overlay requirements. The proposed Walgreens would be three stories tall and include space for the drugstore, office space and a two-story parking deck.
The company asked for variances to the overlay district, including the requirement of having an entrance facing Peachtree and the requirement to screen a parking deck with ground-level retail.
The Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals voted to defer the application for 60 days, asking for the applicant and neighbors to work together to try to reach a compromise. The Zoning Board of Appeals will review the application again on May 21.
The Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance, an organization that advocates for the overlay district, argues that the property doesn’t have any special challenges that would merit variances to the overlay’s requirements.
“The overlay is not a set of suggestions. It is zoning code,” said Kathy Forbes, a member of the BPCA.
But Doug Dillard, an attorney representing the applicant, suggested that the overlay district is too restrictive.
“For business owners to have to come to you with eight, nine, 10 variance requests to meet current market demands, you need to look at the ordinance,” Dillard said.
The overlay zoning district is a set of building standards that applies to the Peachtree Road corridor, roughly the area around the Brookhaven-Peachtree MARTA station from the Fulton County line to Ashford Dunwoody Road. The goal is to create, over time, a pedestrian-friendly, multi-story urban village setting.
The last time Walgreens went before a zoning board was in October 2011, when the company requested an additional entrance on Peachtree Road. The variance was sought because the overlay restricts making more curb cuts on Peachtree in an effort to make the road safer for pedestrians. The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals denied the request.
Forbes said the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance would welcome Walgreens to the community, as long as their plans meet the overlay’s requirements.
“The goal is to help developers propose projects that will comply with the overlay. If successful over time, a sense of place will emerge in Brookhaven that features a walkable, pedestrian-scale ambiance which scarcely exists today, the exception being Brookhaven Village on Dresden Drive,” Forbes said.