The Brookhaven City Council Nov. 14 unanimously voted to reverse a decision it made last month to prohibit a developer from building a gated community on Pine Cone Lane. The decision came after the city attorney said the city would likely lose if sued by the developer.

The City Council then voted to approve the development as originally approved by the Planning Commission.

“The method by which we pursued it was procedurally flawed,” City Councilmember Linley Jones said.

Jones, who added the amendment at the Oct. 24 council meeting to deny Ardent Companies request to build a wrought-iron fence around a 22-townhome development on Pine Cone Lane as part of a rezoning request, said the city will work toward creating a broad policy to consider whether the city should allow future gated communities as it works to create connectivity and promote walkability.

Mayor John Ernst, who in a rare vote broke the tie at the Oct. 25 meeting to deny Ardent Companies request, said the way to make legislative change was not through an individual zoning case.

“We will have staff take a look at an amendment to our code about not allowing gates outside the SLUP [special land use permit] process,” he said.

The new fencing means that the popular vehicle and pedestrian access of Burton Plaza Lane will be closed to the public because under the developer’s plan, Burton Plaza Lane will be shifted slightly to the north and the new private street will be gated at Coosawattee Drive and Pine Cone Lane, according to city staff.

Councilmember Bates Mattison, who supported the developer’s request for a fence, said there needs to be considerable debate about gated communities in the city. Restricting fences citywide is contradictory to the city’s pedestrian-friendly policy because it encourages cut-through traffic in residential neighborhoods, he said.

Ardent’s Neville Allison told the council at the Oct. 25 meeting that Ardent could already build gates along Pine Cone Lane and Coosawattee Drive as part of a 73-unit townhome development already under construction where the Park Villa apartments were once located. The reason to add the fence surrounding the additional 22 units is because, in part, these kinds of townhomes attract a younger, mostly female demographic who want gates for security and exclusivity, he said.