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Sandy Springs: Lots of chances to voice Gateway concerns
by Everett Catts
September 19, 2013 03:58 PM | 1824 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Representatives of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Sept. 12 said they have been omitted from discussions about Sandy Springs Gateway development near the cities’ border, but officials with Sandy Springs Thursday said the city has given residents of all neighboring communities, including Buckhead, the chance to speak out on the project.

In July, the Sandy Springs City Council approved the Roswell Road project including more than 600 apartments and retail and office space in a 5-1 vote, despite several residents voicing displeasure, citing lack of input among other complaints.

Buckhead council President Jim King, who represents the Chastain Park neighborhood encompassing both sides of the Gateway development, said his neighborhood roads are already clogged almost every hour of the day and will be worsened by the project.

“There’s not always a council member in neighborhoods [affected by these projects], but those folks know their neighborhood better than anybody,” he said of why community groups should be included in the process.

Sandy Springs officials responded by saying there have been ample opportunities for Buckhead residents to voice their opinion on the project.

“There were 10 [public input] meetings from June 2012 to July 2013, all were advertised and [that] enabled the public to come and give input,” Sandy Springs spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said. “We also had four neighborhood outreach meetings in which the neighborhood associations and other residents came out. The Atlanta City Council member at the [Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods’ meeting [Yolanda Adrean] attended at least one of those meetings.”

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos added, “The developer [JBL Realty's Hudson Hooks] reduced the number of [apartment] units he was seeking and has made considerable changes as a result of the interplay between the … neighborhoods and him. As he heard more and more, he really listened including the market [retail] area, which was changed.”

Galambos also said North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain, also a member of the Buckhead council, spoke at the July Sandy Springs council meeting when the project was approved.

“We listened to him with great diligence,” she said, adding the city had a “very open process” regarding the Gateway development. “We’re not aware of any other development proposal that involved as many meetings with the developer, the neighborhood associations and city staff. I think that is the longest period of time we have ever spent on one proposal.

“We even split the decision. We heard first on the Windsor Parkway[-Roswell Road intersection redesign] and then the project itself. We never gave any consideration on those wishing to speak between Atlanta residents and Sandy Springs residents. We listened to everybody.

“I think there’s also some misunderstanding about the directions from GRTA [Georgia Regional Transportation Authority]. GRTA, which has jurisdiction on projects when they’re planned, said [the city] had to do something about Windsor Parkway [realigning it]. But GRTA also directed the city of Atlanta to put in a left-turn lane along West Wieuca Road [at Roswell Road].”

Kraun added, “I think a condition for JLB’s project was for them to have that left-turn lane.”

— Staff Writer Megan Thornton contributed to this report.
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