Monday, September 15, 2014

Expensive Words

It may have been a cut-and-paste by the ubiquitous Staff and it may have seemed expedient at the time but these words and their (ab)use is likely to cost Dunwoody taxpayers a pretty penny:
The purpose and intent of the City Council in establishing the R-100 (Single-family Residential) District is as follows:
(a) To provide for the protection of neighborhoods within the City where lots have a minimum area of fifteen thousand (15,000) square feet;
(b) To provide for infill development in neighborhoods having fifteen thousand (15,000) square foot lots in a manner compatible with existing development
(c) To assure that the uses and structures authorized in the R-100 (Single-family Residential) District are those uses and structures designed to serve the housing, recreational, educational, religious, and social needs of the neighborhood. 
This comes from the Dunwoody Zoning Ordinance and is the statement of purpose and intent for R-100 zoning which covers residential lots under one acre (by implication of the other R-x00 codes) but over 15,000 square feet. Generally in law a legislative statement of purpose and intent is used during court proceedings to clarify gaps or vagueness in situations where the letter of the actual law (or code as in this case) does not clearly apply or convey the legislative intent.

In the situation with the Dunwoody Club Forest decision which is political at best and wrong at the very least a judge will most likely be called on to assess whether the Dunwoody City Council followed their own intent.  They have not. Council have stated, in the code, that their intent is to provide for, not deny, infill development. The winners of the debate as it stands today invoke the "in a manner compatible with existing development" clause, but the reality is that two very nice homes on generous, over 15,000 square foot lots, is not incompatible with surrounding nice, but older homes on similarly sized lots.

And the judge may consider whether the Dunwoody City Council has been consistent. They have not. If their intended use of this clause is to prevent "incompatible development" what say they to the development going on right now at the pipe farm? These appear incompatible with existing development as all of the neighboring, existing developments are apartments. In this case "consistent development" would be apartments as had been planned before the real estate bubble burst but which are instead, thru direct City interference, being replaced with single family residences.  Not compatible. Not consistent. Not likely a judge will look the other way.

The fact is the Dunwoody City Council has (ab)used zoning language they approved to do what they want, when they want and in a punitive fashion. We should all be concerned about the costs of these actions. Not just in dollars, but in integrity.