The Dunwoody City Council narrowly approved a rezoning for a new restaurant and retail space at a Monday meeting.
The council approved a rezoning for a property located at 600 Ashwood Parkway by a 4-3 vote, with Coucilmembers Tom Lambert, Joe Seconder, and Stacey Harris voting against the rezoning. The property in question is located within Perimeter Marketplace, a mixed-use development owned by Branch Properties.
The city initially saw plans for the retail and restaurant space – an 8,400 square foot building with 62 parking spaces and a walk-up ATM – at a Feb. 14 council meeting, and again at a Feb. 28 meeting. The council deferred a decision on the rezoning at the Feb. 28 meeting due to disagreements over the location of a sidewalk and store entrances.
At the Feb. 28 meeting, Lambert requested that the applicant provide a sidewalk around the perimeter of the property and asked that each future tenant provide access to their business through glass doors on the street-facing side of the building. Representatives for Branch Properties disputed the entryways on the street-facing side of the building since there would already be entrances facing the parking lot.
At the Monday meeting, the applicant provided a plan that showed a new pedestrian path and also requested that only eating and drinking establishments have doors accessible to the street side of the building during business hours.
The council approved the applicant’s changes, but three council members still had reservations and voted against the rezoning. Harris said she had trouble conceptualizing the pedestrian pathway and was not clear on what exactly it would look like.
“I need to know what we’re all agreeing to, and I’m not clear,” Harris said.
Councilmember Tom Lambert said he voted against the rezoning because he didn’t think the site plan, including the pedestrian path as presented and the positioning of the building’s doors, fit with the city’s plan to become more walkable. He said he felt the site plan presented a lot of “missed opportunities.”
“You get what you build for. So if you build for cars, you get cars. If you build for people, you get people,” he said. “Having the back door being right up to our sidewalks and our streets makes no sense to me. We’re trying to activate our streets, encourage people to walk to businesses, you should make that something easy for pedestrians to do.”
Councilmember John Heneghan said he thought the compromise on street-side entrances would leave the decision up to the business owners.
“The glass doors are still there,” Heneghan said. “They’re going to make a business decision to probably either leave them both open during open hours, or possibly close one of them based on the security of the person working there.”