Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Property Rights Mean Nothing in Dunwoody?

By a 6-1 vote Dunwoody's city council voted to deny a landowner from sub-dividing his property. Where are our local Tea Party an Liberty Party folks?  The Red Shirt Posse won a spot on council last election - did they see their man waffle and crumble and vote against property rights?  Come on Councilman R., where's that Tea Party stance?  Norb and the gang must be disappointed.  I know everyone on council and they all are great people, but they got this one wrong.

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 will be were to be might be built would have a higher value than many homes in DCF, perhaps worth more than most.  But DCF homeowners are not focused on home value; they are focused on maintaining the character of the neighborhood.  Most seem to oppose the in-fill and a large new home on a smaller lot.

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.


Anonymous said...

Who was the 1?

Joe Seconder said...

I'm certain that the property owners will sue, so the taxpayers of Dunwoody will now have to pay for the City's legal fees in it's defense in court. I'm going to "upset" some people here, but I see no LEGAL basis to deny the lot subdivision. DCF shouldn't have let their Covenants expire. Simple as that. Two weeks ago, I asked a few of the City Council attendees if they knew -- or cared -- about the 34 acres & 54 (+/-) new homes with the loss of several hundred (if not thousands) of trees on Vermack. Response: Crickets. The Red Shirts were in arms about the loss of the trees for the Brook Run Trail & Dunwoody Village Parkway. But not a SINGLE individual came forth in all of Dunwoody to ask about "Saving" 34 acres of trees on Vermack; or were worried about creating a 1980's era design Dead-end Cul-de-Sac traffic generating neighborhood, etc. If you want to "Save" Dunwoody, then why not start saving money in a bank, get with the Trust for Public Land, work on establishing Conservation Easements and "Saving" some land for future use?

Rose Gorham said...

Joe. You are wrong. I did come forward to protest this subdivision. You and I even exchanged messages about it.

I was told that there was nothing that could be done about the subdivision as it was privately owned and zoned residential. That it was a good thing! So I kept quiet about it. Is traffic going to become worse? Yes. Is DES which is already full going to get more crowded? Yes. I'm not happy about it but was told nothing can be done.

PA your tirade against Save Dunwoody is getting old!!!!

Anonymous said...

Property rights are important and Dekalb will confirm this when the situation is heard before their court.

Interesting that the councilman leading the way to block this lawful pursuit by the builder is also the one who supported (and promoted) an illegal commercial garage sale a few years ago.

Dekalb will overturn the decision of what has become known as the "Red Headed Step Children" of Dekalb and it could cost the city plenty.