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Brookhaven City council hones in on Buford Highway corridor
by Noreen Cochran
April 17, 2013 07:50 AM | 2981 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Buford Highway apartment dwellers in Brookhaven will have better living quarters since the city council unanimously passed a new law last week requiring landlords to meet city standards or risk losing their business licenses.

City Councilman Joe Gebbia, whose district is bisected by the highway, said speeding up the inspection schedule of the city’s 72 apartment complexes is a major breakthrough for residents’ safety and quality of life.

“We were averaging one inspection per month for the 72. That’s six years,” he said. “To do a complete round of inspections focusing on life and safety puts it from a six-year to an 18-month period. That is excellent.”

Exterior upgrades will be made by the city under a $500,000 grant from DeKalb County.

City Councilman Jim Eyre said the action puts teeth in the city’s requirements at no cost to taxpayers since the landlords will pay for the third-party inspections.

“This ordinance sets us up to require the apartments to self-police themselves and also provide the mechanism for us to make sure that they are doing that and they are providing us that information,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Chase Williams, filling in for the vacationing Mayor J. Max Davis, said the city council will not tolerate “deplorable” living conditions like they saw during a recent tour.

“We’ve even had to condemn a unit and move the family out, a family of six with one child that had cerebral palsy, and find some safer living for them,” she said.

Calling the highway “a diamond in the rough,” Williams said its economic development will be overseen by the newly formed Development Authority, whose members were sworn in last week.

President and CEO of Waffle House Walt Ehmer is its chair.

Members are attorneys Bruce L. Whitmer, Tim Peaden, Luke Anderson and Wendy Butler, former Cox Enterprises Vice President and Treasurer Susan Coker, retired banker John Rhett and Capital City Nissan CEO Pat Hoban.

“This, to me, is one of our most important boards that we appoint,” Williams said. “It has, actually, tremendous authority. They have the power to secure bonds and offer tax abatements as part of their toolbox of economic development elements.”

They will also concentrate on plans for Peachtree Road near the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe transit station.

“MARTA has an $80 million impact on development, so it’s a tremendous boon to Brookhaven,” said Councilman Bates Mattison, in whose district the project lies.

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