Last night the city council voted to stop a property owner from sub-dividing a lot. The lot owner in Dunwoody Club Forest has a large lot, over 38,000 square feet. The plan is to create two lots, each approximately 19,000 square feet. These newly created lots would not be the smallest lots in Dunwoody Club Forest. You can go the Dunwoody's GIS web site and use the measuring tool and find quite a few lots in the .4 acre range. And you'll find lots a lot bigger as well. The average lot in DCF is reportedly to be 24,000 sq feet (approx), so the new lots are smaller than average, but not the smallest.
The houses that
What happens when lots are subdivided? Do newer, more expensive homes in the neighborhood equal higher values for existing homes? Not necessarily. If you own a well-maintained home with some upgrades and renovations, your home value would not be harmed by new homes nearby. For those whose homes have not been maintained or updated or renovated, then your home most likely declines in value if lot sub-dividing occurs often. Your home value drops and only your lot has value. Prospective buyers view your lot as a blank slate and the tearing the home down is another expense on the way to building something new. Sad in a way, but is it the Government's role to control supply and demand for residential lots in Dunwoody Club Forest? Is it city council's job to protect you (your home value) from newer homes on lots that still meet the zoning requirements? If you believe it is the city's role to protect your home value, then you should be opposed to every new home application in Dunwoody. You should have stuck around last night and opposed the rezoning for the 55 condos. You should have shown up and opposed the new fancy homes going to be built across from the Vermack pool (home to the world-champion Vermack Viking swim team).
The DCF case and council decision is about mob rule. The mob opposes the subdivide and the elected officials (6 of 7) agreed with the mob. There was no rezoning decision last night. The new lots met the city's definition for DCF's zoning class. No rules were broken (the order in which the paperwork was submitted was a technical issue that could have been corrected quite easily) and no one suffered any harm. No water run-off issues occurred and no setbacks were violated.
The case came down to securing votes for future elections and a few words in a city document that says, "in a manner compatible with existing development'. Now that's a loose set of words for sure. Is building a $700,000 home in a neighborhood with homes valued from $400,000 to over $1 million compatible? Is building a home on a 19,000 square foot lot compatible with some neighboring homes built on 18,000 square foot lots?
Would I want the subdivide if I owned a home there? Probably not, unless I too planned on selling my lot at some point in the future. The victory is one for the homeowners in Dunwoody Club Forest. The defeat belongs to the property owner, property owners throughout Dunwoody, and the taxpayers. This case is probably headed to court, and the city will pay to defend its position that property rights are inferior to its own personal opinions on what is compatible. Taxpayers will pay the price either way this shakes out.