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Briarcliff Park Groups Take Case to Community Council

Neighborhood groups oppose rezoning, desire park in former library area.

This initial drawing of the park area did not include the library building itself, but future versions of the master plan will, residents said.
This initial drawing of the park area did not include the library building itself, but future versions of the master plan will, residents said.
The North Druid Hills Residents Association and Friends of Briarcliff Park are taking their quest against the rezoning of the former Briarcliff Library property Tuesday night to the District 2 Community Council.

The groups are opposed to a rezoning of the property at 2775 Briarcliff Road, between Clairmont and North Druid Hills roads, from RM-150 to Office-Institutional. The DeKalb library system wants the rezoning as part of its efforts to sell the property on which the unused building still sits.

The neighborhood groups are not only opposed to the rezoning, they will bring with them to Tuesday night's meeting a conceptual master plan with a long-range vision for a park in the area of the former library building.

The groups had been meeting for some time with county officials and District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader, and came up with the idea for the building to be replaced with a park. On Nov. 7, the Planning Commission agreed to a 60-day full cycle deferment to the Board of Commissioners concerning the rezoning.

The groups, working with a planner, rushed to come up with an initial plan which they will present Tuesday night. The initial drawing, seen above, is "a proof of concept for the greenspace portion of a proposed Briarcliff Park," according to the Friends of Briarcliff Park Facebook page.

"Further proposals will incorporate the former Briarcliff library structure itself into a unifying design that includes both the building as well as its surrounding area."

The proposed park includes the library property along with another piece of unused property that is owned by the school system. That property, running parallel to Fern Creek, is behind Margaret Harris Comprehensive School on Knob Hill Drive.

Friends of Briarcliff Park and NDHRA emphasize that all plans for the park are a work in progress and preliminary at this point.
 
Both groups learned Dec. 4 from county attorneys that greenspace bond funds cannot be used to purchase the current library property from the county. The county library fund would need to be reimbused for any other use of the property because the library was built with library bond funds.

Commissioner Jeff Rader's office told Susan Coryell, Friends of Briarcliff Parks' executive director, at the time, "We are now exploring subdivision of the property with a portion designated for greenspace use."

Portions of the library property are in the floodplain and cannot be developed for commercial purposes.

At this writing, no funding alternatives have been identified for a possible park.

Coryell is requesting that the county scrap the current rezoning process until 2014 because she contends that proper notification procedures were not followed in the move to rezone. Coryell lives across the street from the old library.

The Community Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Avis G. Williams Branch Library, 1282 McConnell Dr., Decatur.

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