Briarcliff Park Supporters Not Happy with Ruling

Planning Commission paves way for potential greenspace, but also backs transitional office/institutional rezoning for library building. Final decision rests with the Board of Commissioners as talks continue.

The District Community Council and the DeKalb Planning Commission have ruled differently on rezoning the former Briarcliff Library property.
The District Community Council and the DeKalb Planning Commission have ruled differently on rezoning the former Briarcliff Library property.
The DeKalb County Planning Commission voted Tuesday night to approve a "compromise" on rezoning of the former Briarcliff Library, but it hardly satisfied neighborhood groups opposed to the decision.

The commission approved rezoning the flood plain portion of the library property at 2775 Briarcliff Road to allow for possible future use as greenspace. However, the commission also approved rezoning of the library building and areas outside the flood plain to O-I-T (Office & Institutional Transitional)

The North Druid Hills Residents Association and Friends of Briarcliff Park have been working on a proposal to turn the property, along with an adjoining unused parcel owned by the school district, into a park. However, the groups had opposed efforts to rezone portions of the library property to Office & Institutional, saying it would set a bad precedent for the residential community.

DeKalb Library Director Alison Weissinger presented the case for a "compromise" that she admitted would not make everyone happy. She said she was looking for a "win-win" where the neighborhood gets a park while the library is able to recoup some of the cost of the property through a sale.

Weissinger said she wanted to continue to work with the neighborhood groups to come up with a "happy medium."

Speaking against rezoning were Alan Pinsker of NDHRA; John Lavelle, a neighborhood resident who is also director of Real Estate Portfolio for the City of Atlanta; and Suzi Wilkie and Susan Coryell of Friends of Briarcliff Park.

Pinsker repeated arguments that he had made successfully Dec. 18 to the District 2 Community Council that rezoning to Office & Industrial affected the "residential character" of the neighborhood. The council voted then to deny rezoning of the property with about 50 residents showing up in opposition.

Lavelle, speaking as a resident and not in his professional position, said the county should treat the property as surplus land, a view also held by Coryell, who suggested that the county put the property on hold until cityhood issues are resolved.

Planning Commission members rejected that idea, saying it could require waiting three or four years, considering there are calls from interim CEO Lee May and others to have a moratorium on new cities.

Both neighborhood groups were already scheduled to meet with District 2 County Commissioner Jeff Rader and Weissinger next Tuesday night at First Alliance Church, 2512 North Druid Hills Road. The Planning Commission's recommendation goes before the Board of Commissioners Jan. 28 for a final vote.

Should O-I-T rezoning be approved by the commissioners, more restrictions would be placed on the property beyond the original O & I request, including  types of uses, hour of operation and demolition of the existing building.

Discussions will continue at next Tuesday's meeting between the groups, Rader and Weissinger.

Read more on the Briarcliff Library rezoning issue:

Tom Doolittle January 08, 2014 at 09:22 AM
Fabulous local coverage.
Lucas Roberts January 08, 2014 at 01:10 PM


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