The owner of the Orchard at Brookhaven assisted living facility will build a sidewalk and landscape strip in front of its building along Buford Highway to the city’s specifications after first arguing it could not do so because of a faulty survey.

The resolution came during the City Council’s June 25 meeting when the property owner, Green Implementation Group, asked for and received approval to reduce a parking lot landscape strip from 10 feet to 6 feet, giving it more room along Buford Highway to build the city-mandated 10-foot sidewalk and 5-foot landscape strip. The facility is located at 1634 Afton Lane located at the corner of Afton Lane and Buford Highway.

The size of the sidewalk and landscape strip became an issue when Green Implementation Group LLC, told the city earlier this year it could not build the full 5-foot-wide landscape strip. A faulty construction survey of the property came up 4 feet short of the space needed, according to the company’s attorney.

 The dirt path in front of the Orchard at Brookhaven on Buford Highway will be replaced by a 10-foot wide sidewalk and a 5-foot wide landscape strip. (Dyana Bagby)

The widths for the sidewalk and landscape strip were required by the city when it approved rezoning the property in 2017 to make way for the 79-unit facility. The address for the property at that time was 3523 Buford Highway.

The widths also are part of the city’s bike and pedestrian master plan and its long-term vision of creating a safer, more walkable portion of Buford Highway within the city where currently several dirt paths exist, including one in front of the facility.

That faulty survey led to Green Implementation Group in March to seek a major zoning modification to build only a 1-foot-wide strip of landscaping between Buford Highway and the 10-foot-wide sidewalk. The request for the zoning modification came just as the building was set to open to the public.

Mayor John Ernst and City Council members in May told high-profile zoning attorney Doug Dillard, representing Green Implementation Group, that they could not approve anything less than what they required in the zoning approval. Doing so, they said, would set a precedent along Buford Highway, a busy corridor where redevelopment is expected to happen quickly in the coming years.

The 5-foot-wide strip is also necessary to provide a safety strip between pedestrians and motorists driving along Buford Highway, they said.

Additionally, the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to construct new sidewalks along 3 miles of Buford Highway between Afton Lane and Shallowford Terrace starting in 2021. The council told Dillard and the owners to find a way to make the 15-foot width work as mandated in the rezoning approval.

At the City Council’s June 25 meeting, attorney Baxter Russell, representing Green Group Implementation Group because Dillard was attending a different meeting, said they listened to the council’s feedback and came up with a solution.

That solution, recommended by the city Planning Commission, was to reduce the required width of the landscape strip between the parking lot and sidewalk from 10 feet to 6 feet. That gave the owner the 4 feet needed to build out the full 15-feet of sidewalk and landscaping, Russell said.

“We appreciate the applicant reworking all of this in order to meet the city’s standards …,” Councilmember Linley Jones said at the June 25 meeting.

“I think this is a very good outcome,” Councilmember Joe Gebbia added.

Councilmember Linley Jones added,

The council voted unanimously to approve the request.

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