Concept plans for changes to Chamblee-Dunwoody Road at the intersection of Mount Vernon Road aim to improve pedestrian and cyclist access without infringing on surrounding properties.
As part of the Dunwoody Village Master Plan, the city plans to rework the streetscape of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road between Roberts Drive and Womack Road. The current concepts do not include any specific suggestions for possible property-taking. More detailed concept plans will be available for public input in November, according to a staff memo to the City Council.
Some residents worry that changes to the street may take green space away from the Cheek-Spruill House, a nationally recognized historic property located on the corner of Mount Vernon Road at 5455 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road that is host to many city festivals and considered a city landmark.
City Public Works Director Michael Smith said in an Oct. 7 meeting the plans are to “avoid as much as possible” using any of the farmhouse’s land.
The city has $200,000 in federal funds to create the concept plan for the project, which comes with a requirement to try to preserve historic resources, Smith said.
The Dunwoody Village Master Plan concept suggests widening Chamblee-Dunwoody Road to 100 feet, but staff is recommending only widening to 85 feet to stay close to the street’s existing footprint. Right now, the street is between 65 and 70 feet wide at the farmhouse, according to Richard McLeod, the city community development director.
The area of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road that intersects with Mount Vernon Road is a “pinch point,” Smith said, because of how the road narrows. The farmhouse, a Jimmy John’s restaurant, a BP gas station and an under-construction urgent care center surround the intersection.
The public will have two or three different concept plans to review and provide input. Smith said one of them may include a roundabout, but that design would be difficult to do because it would require the city to purchase some surrounding properties.
“We may have to make some adjustments and compromises in the design to avoid the properties on both sides,” Smith said.
Staff recommends creating separate spaces for cyclists and walkers in the streetscape concept draft.
In the current draft of the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road plan, there would be a 12-foot-wide sidewalk and a 5-foot-wide bike lane with a 2-foot-wide landscaped buffer in between. There would also be a 5-foot-wide landscaped buffer between the bike lane and the road. Smith said there’s flexibility in where to put the street trees depending on community and council input.
The road would have right-turn lanes at intersections only. The center of the road would have a landscaped median or a center turn lane where needed.
“I definitely appreciate separating bicycles and pedestrians in a high-traffic area,” Councilmember Joe Seconder said.
The original concept plan had a 12-foot-wide sidewalk with 9-foot and 6-foot landscaped buffers on either side, and no separate bike lane. Smith said the separation of the cyclists and pedestrians would alleviate overcrowding on the sidewalks if businesses have outdoor dining or other amenities outside their doors.
Smith used the example of Commerce Street in Decatur as an example of how Chamblee-Dunwoody Road could look. That street has a sidewalk that abuts storefronts, plus a bike lane protected by trees and a thin, landscaped strip.
The streetscape changes are part of the city’s plan to make the Dunwoody Village Overlay district a more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly area. The city is also working on a zoning rewrite for the 165-acre area that covers the intersection of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Mount Vernon roads.
The rewrite is considered a long-term plan to have in place for when new developments may come to Dunwoody Village but does not propose specific projects. The Dunwoody Village Overlay now includes three suburban shopping centers with expansive surface parking lots; several auto-repair shops and gas stations; office buildings; banks; and the Dunwoody United Methodist Church.