The Dunwoody City Council is working on the monumental task of rewriting the Zoning Rules for Dunwoody. The issue is huge and complex, and a boring read for most people. But scattered throughout our city are people who like to dig deep. Lots of people have worked on this issue for over a year.
Dunwoody Working Girl is very passionate about Work-from-Home issues. She was on a committee that helped write the proposed changes, changes that can affect everyone. I applaud her passion and it's great she volunteers. Go HERE to read her recent post.
I agree with a lot of her points. But when it comes to zoning I believe in The Worst Case Scenario.
One of the allowed occupations Dunwoody City Council is considering to allow is that of therapist. Counselors are also okay to operate in a home, in a residential neighborhood, right next to you and your kids.
Here's a story from not too long ago about a lady doing counseling in her home. Another story discussed a similar situation whereas sex offenders were being counseled daily, in a residential neighborhood. If council does not act to change this, there is nothing to stop this from happening on your street.
Imagine making a few pitchers of lemonade, carrying a Little Tikes table and chairs to the curb, then having your kid and a friend sit out front and sell lemonade. Ten or so customers driving up to buy lemonade, all sex offenders. Oh yeah, the 10 sex offenders a day are going to park next door at your neighbor's house and get their therapy from your neighbor. City Council won't allow me to have chickens in my backyard or park an RV on my property line, but my neighbor can run her therapy business from her home in the cul-de-sac.
So, the question to council: Do you want your neighbor to be hosting sex offenders all day? How about having a mental-health therapist next door?
What if word gets out that Dunwoody allows sex offender counseling in homes and three or four people buy homes on your street? Extreme case? Of course. Allowing customer contact in the home (except when clients are under 18 and receiving educational instruction such as music lessons or math tutoring) is wrong.
At last night's meeting the council addressed all the issues the Community Council and Planning Commission discussed, in addition to more items like pet limits. I think city council and the mayor did a really good job last night moving through the new zoning document. Many good points were discussed and lots of good questions to staff.
Only a couple of decisions rendered differed from what I'd like to see written. One is the tree removal rules. Both Community Council and Planning Commission voted 5-0 to remove the tree rules on your residential lot. The proposed tree rule takes the stance that trees on my (or your) property and the accompanying tree canopy belong to the people of Dunwoody, not the homeowner. If you decide to build a deck or add a garage or build a retaining wall (anything that requires a permit) you can only cut one tree a year (unless non specimen, and a government-hired arborist tells you what is a specimen). I am of the opinion that I own the home, the land, and the trees. Others feel differently. There is no problem here that needs fixed. We will not have people clear-cutting lots for the fun of it. Tree removal is expensive and trees can improve home value. Council will discuss the issue more at their next meeting. Hopefully council will keep the newly interpreted tree rule (that affects only when you get a permit) but still, limiting tree removal even when a permit is required is wrong. Trees don't have rights, people do.
The other issue I disagreed with is the setback rules for parking a fishing boat or RV. City council pretty much banned all RVs and boats from Dunwoody. Yes, if you have a boat, travel trailer, pop-up, or even a $400,000 Class A diesel pusher, tough luck. You can't park it in your driveway, you can't park it within 20 feet of your neighbor's home. Add the 10-12 feet needed to park the RV and the 20-foot buffer and you have eliminated 99% of all homes in Dunwoody. Again, where is the problem we are fixing? The Zoning Sounding Board voted to reduce this distance to 10 feet (that does not do much as most people have only 20 or less) and Community Council voted to eliminate the distance required. Your neighbor can park five F150 Ford trucks in the driveway, have three dogs running around in the backyard, have sex offenders come to the home one at a time, but I can't park an RV beside the house? At the end of last night's meeting a few council members suggested residents give them feedback - well, there's my feedback.
There are many neighborhoods in Dunwoody with restrictive HOA's. If you want a square yard with no gardens, no boats, and no RVs, buy a home where this is a strong HOA.