DUNWOODY, Ga. — More than 60 Dunwoody residents gathered June 29 at Vintage Pizza to see the latest in a years’ long process to update the Dunwoody Village Master Plan.
It was standing room only for a presentation of master plan updates from Caleb Racicot and Rick Hall, two city planning consultants. The updated plan involves rezoning into four, simpler types of zones: DV-1 village commercial, DV-2 village office, DV-3 village residential and DV-4 village center. This simplified code is one step on the way to implementing greater changes to the design of the city center, Racicot said.
Cities often update plans for projects without updating the zoning codes to make those plans legal and enforceable, but Dunwoody has made those efforts, Racicot said.
The Village hasn’t changed much since 1993, he said, illustrating the point with a flyover picture comparison. But with input from a resident survey of 1,800 people last year, and with workshops like this one, greater change should be coming soon.
The main goals of the updated plan are greater walkability and bikeability, more green space and an updated visual style from the current 1960s Williamsburg look, he said. The plan maintains a desire to keep out big box stores and high-density apartments.
Rick Hall, who has worked in city planning and engineering since the 1980s, stressed a specific plan to keep traffic slow and the village walkable.
“There’s a building, and there’s a sidewalk, there are shade trees and parked cars, and every time we line it up that way pedestrians show up,” Hall said.
With parked cars in front of store fronts, traffic would also move slower in the middle, he said, making pedestrians safer. This can also create more visually pleasing centers.
“When was the last photoshoot you had in the Dunwoody Village?” he asked.
Hall showed a design for a new street network map with much more connectivity throughout the village area and for nearby subdivisions, making the Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Mt Vernon Road intersection potentially more manageable. The design received applause from some residents in the room.
“Yea, for common sense,” one man remarked.
But the street network designs are not final. Community members were able to draw over those plans after the presentation to provide feedback.
The other big applause moment of the presentation was for a limit on the number of banks, one of the key issues residents have voiced about the village, which contains several banks in close proximity.
To provide more greenspace, the plan proposes a central green in front of the town square and placement of pocket parks around the village. One such park would be put in front of the Fresh Market on Chamblee Dunwoody Road, removing some of its parking. Parking decks at as many as four locations around the village could also provide additional parking, Racicot said.
Racicot showed different types of communities built using form-based coding, a system which sets the form, or the look of an area, as the priority.
“We believe that there is a way to prepare regulations that are form based that can reflect your vision for Dunwoody Village,” he said. “They can be used to preserve a distinct sense of place. A place that is truly Dunwoody.”
Consultants and other city officials helped illustrate the changes with a walking tour after the initial presentation. The tour looped around the village area, allowing residents to ask questions and see exactly where the proposed changes would take place.
On the tour, residents expressed concerns about how to convince property owners to give up parking for a park, which sections specifically will have new pedestrian walkways and when exactly these plans could be completed after almost a decade of tweaks, workshops and community input.
“We went through this nine years ago,” Joe Seconder said.
Seconder, who is considering a bid for office in Dunwoody, is a constant presence at council meetings and other community outreach events. He said he wants to see plans move faster in Dunwoody, especially as neighboring cities, like Brookhaven, have done better with a similar budget with their city centers.
After the walking tour, community members were able to see info boards and edit street design plans.