The Dunwoody City Council voted to tighten the standards for gravel residential driveways at an Aug. 22 meeting.
The council previously discussed the possibility of banning gravel driveways altogether at an April meeting due to some complaints from residents about gravel driveways in the city. The council further discussed the possibility at an Aug. 8 meeting.
Before the August 22 meeting, the city code did not specify what sort of materials could be used for residential driveways, but required that the paved area be less than 35% of a street-facing yard. Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt said the issue the city ran into was that the code didn’t state that gravel was included in paved surfaces, so there was no maximum for gravel.
“The reason why we’re having this discussion is there were some complaints about certain properties that were brought to our attention,” said Councilmember Tom Lambert. “This was done to hopefully address those situations.”
At the August 22 meeting, the council approved a text amendment that would allow for residents to use gravel for their driveways, but subject to certain standards. According to the amendment, gravel driveways would have depth requirements, quality requirements, require a durable border of a material like stone or wood, and would have to be maintained so no “gravel fragment” would leave the driveway area. Parking would only be allowed on approved surfaces. The 35% maximum lot coverage rule would still apply, including to gravel surfaces.
The council approved the second option they were presented with for the text amendment. The first option prohibited parking on grass, lawn, or dirt areas in street yards. Parking would have been allowed on gravel surfaces, and the option kept the 35% maximum lot coverage for a paved area, including gravel.
The motion passed 5-2, with Mayor Lynn Deutsch and Councilmember John Heneghan voting against the text amendment. Deutsch said she didn’t “love gravel period,” and she wanted to make sure that residents didn’t have the leeway to “throw gravel down and park a car on it.” She said she believed some people in the city were abusing the use of gravel to park in their front yards.
Leonhardt said this text amendment should require higher standards for gravel driveways, but that parking might be a separate issue.
“If you really wanted to be strict about parking in front yards, then we would need to take a look at that separately,” Leonhardt said.
Deutsch said she didn’t want the city to behave like a Homeowners Association, but thought that the city’s code needed to be tightened up in order to avoid parking in front yards.
Heneghan said he didn’t think the text amendment would change anything, and might be difficult to enforce.
“We’re putting forward a change, but I’m not sure it’s going to be really effective for what we wanted to do,” he said.
Lambert said his preference would be not to allow gravel at all, but he got the sense that he was in the minority of the council.
“If we are going to allow it, I think it’s imperative we have the standards,” he said.
Councilmembers Joe Seconder and Stacey Harris both said they thought that the second option for the text amendment would help fix the issue of gravel use in driveways, and that if the council wanted to move forward with regulating parking, that would be a separate conversation.
“We were trying to address the gravel, and now we’re bringing up parking,” Harris said. “That does seem very HOA to me, at this point. I understand, but in my mind it is two separate issues.”
The entire discussion and meeting can be viewed on the city’s Facebook page.