DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Jan. 4 Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals meeting drew some 50 residents to hear a request to build a 3-lot subdivision at Tilly Mill Road and Renfroe Lake Drive.
While residents took no issue with subdividing the 2.38-acre lot, most objected to a requirement that the developer build a section of the Tilly Mill Road multi-use path.
The lot at 5383 Tilly Mill Road, zoned single-dwelling residential-100, includes a one-story home constructed in 1900.
The applicant, Michael Phelps of Southern Heritage Home Builders, proposes to demolish the existing home and subdivide the existing property into three lots with three new homes.
When the Zoning Board of Appeals eventually approved the developer’s request for a variance, many residents were upset that the board left intact a requirement for the developer to build a section of the Tilly Mill Road multi-use path.
Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Joe Tuttle reminded residents throughout the meeting that decisions related to the Trail Master Plan are not in the board’s purview.
The three proposed lots meet the baseline zoning requirements for the single-dwelling district but fail to meet contextual requirements for street frontage relating to adjacent lots.
The two properties used to determine the 3-lot subdivision’s required area and street frontage are 2077 Renfroe Lake Drive and 5150 Sheridan Lane.
An image shows the approved 3-home subdivision at 5383 Tilly Mill Road. Because the subdivision increases the number of single-family lots, Dunwoody’s Code of Ordinances requires right-of-way improvements from the developer.
CITY OF DUNWOODY/PROVIDED
Staff said the 3-lot subdivision satisfies lot area requirement of 17,380 square feet but fails the street frontage requirement of 151 feet.
The three proposed lots have 150, 107 and 147 feet of frontage, which meet the 100-foot requirement for single-dwelling residential but fail contextual requirements for street frontage.
The approval criteria for a special exemption requires staff to ensure it follows the municipal code and does not negatively affect the character of existing neighborhoods.
Staff recommended approval of the request with two conditions: requiring compliance with the proposed site plans and preserving a 44-foot oak tree abutting Tilly Mill Road.
Because the subdivision increases the number of single-family lots, Dunwoody’s Code of Ordinances requires public right-of-way improvements, including a 12-foot multi-use path along the Tilly Mill Road portion of the street frontage, staff said.
Residents of the 40-home subdivision surrounding Renfroe Lake Drive say they are in favor of the 3-home subdivision after the developer agreed to reduce the number of homes from four to three on Dec. 17.
“The biggest problem in this case is looking at the recommendation that was made from staff…”, Renfroe Lake HOA President Robert Hein said. “To me, as an attorney, that says the Tilly Mill path is going to be built on this location on the east side.”
Other residents spoke against building a 12-foot multi-use path on Tilly Mill Road.
“Our feeling is that you have the power, if you want, to approve the variance but without the condition of the path,” Hein said.
Seven of the nine public comments at the meeting related to the multi-use path on Tilly Mill Road.
Referencing the defeat of a bond referendum for parks and trails in November, many residents spoke against requiring the developer to build a section of the proposed path.
Opposition points included loss of tree canopy, failure of the bond referendum and aesthetics of a partially completed path.
While the Tilly Mill Road path was not included in the list of projects for the proposed bond, the multi-use path on Tilly Mill Road from Womack Road to Mount Vernon Road is in the Dunwoody Trails Master Plan.
Familiar opponents of the Trails Master Plan, No Bond Committee members Bob Hickey and Tom Simon, spoke against building sections of the path on the east side of Tilly Mill Road.
Hickey and Simon, along with other residents, said they would prefer the path be on the west side of Tilly Mill Road, if it is built at all.
Simon, who lives on the east side of Tilly Mill Road, has opposed the PATH Foundation’s development of the Dunwoody Trail Master Plan since its adoption in May 2023.
According to the city’s website, the plan calls for a 12-foot-wide concreate path for pedestrians and cyclists on Tilly Mill Road from Womack Road to Mount Vernon Road.
While city staff recommended plans to build the path on the east side of the road in 2022, Simon said he wants the shared-use path to be built on the west side of Tilly Mill, as originally planned.
“The city is trying to make the developer pay and start this path on the east side…,” Simon said during his public comment.