One home at the center of zoning battle in Brookhaven

by: Diana Davis Updated:

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - An expensive new home under construction in DeKalb County may have to be torn down.

Residents of Brookhaven's Ashford Park neighborhood said the house was built 13 feet too close to the street. They said that is a violation of zoning laws and that the house does not fit in with other homes.

The 3,500-square-foot home is on Ashford Drive.

The owners' lawyer, Douglas Dillard, said the fight over the dream project has become a nightmare.

"They have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in reliance of a permit that the city is now saying is invalid," Dillard said.

The permit was declared invalid since the house is 13 feet closer to the street than the other home -- an apparent violation of city zoning laws.

"It's a travesty. It destroys the integrity of Ashford Park that we have fought for 20 years," said resident Ronnie Mayer.

Brookhaven's mayor and city council got an earful from residents Friday. The owners' lawyers said they'll appeal for a zoning variance. The city said the building permit may have been OK'd by mistake.

The question is: Will the house go or stay?

Mayor J. Max Davis told Channel's Diana Davis he doesn't know what will happen.

"I can't knee-jerk say the house is going to have to be torn down or moved or chopped off. That may be what happens, we have to be prepared for that. There may be other avenues out there we can take as well," Davis said.

Allowing the house to stay would lead Brookhaven down a slippery slope and provoke an "anything goes" attitude for builders, according to resident Todd Varino.

"They are using deceitful tactics to get through the system and the city has allowed it. They need to set a precedent or it just going to keep on," Varino said.

Some Ashford Drive residents said they believe the footprint of the house could have fit legally onto the lot, that it didn't have to be pushed forward so that it did not fit in with the other homes.

The bottom line, neighbors said the house doesn't blend with the rest of the homes on the street. The city and builders should be held accountable, resident Carl Meyers said.

"It's up to them to read those laws and follow them," Meyers said.