The Sandy Springs City Council paved the way for the proposed major gateway makeover to Roswell Road by approving the two separate components on the table during its meeting Tuesday night.
After exhaustive public comment sessions, council members turned in twin 5-1 votes, including allowing JLB Realty to build a mixed-use development featuring 600-plus apartments, retail and office space. The council also approved the realignment of the intersection of Roswell Road and Windsor Parkway. District 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnery voted against both items.
Residents voiced their misgivings and displeasure over the impending changes in droves, raising concerns about property infringement, neighborhood preservation and lack of communication.
In the end, though, council members in the majority argued that the pending overhaul was in the long-term best interest for residents.
“We have to make tough decisions based on the information we have,” said District 4 Councilman Gabriel Sterling.
The proposed mixed-use development would be constructed on the 21-acre site currently occupied by the aging Versailles and Chastain apartment complexes on the west side of Roswell Road.
The developer’s plan was approved — albeit with some alterations — by the city’s Planning Commission and Design Review Board prior to its approval by the council.
JLB is now set to move forward with a conceptual development that will be comprised of 630 apartment units — the firm initially sought 700 — occupying 90,000 square feet and 30,000 square feet of office space.
“In order to improve traffic on Roswell Road, there’s gotta be some pain,” said District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio. “In order to replace the apartments on Roswell Road there’s gotta be some pain.
“We have got to come to grips that there are problems out there and we’ve got to come to grips with how we are going to solve these problems.”
The Windsor Parkway intersection’s new design does not reduce traffic volumes. Proponents say it does; however, provide additional turn lanes and improved signal operation.
According to a Georgia Regional Transportation Authority report, approval of the JLB deal mandates the city construct offsite improvements or risk losing state and/or federal funding associated with transportation projects.
Several residents voiced their discontent with the proposed changes, citing loss of a portion of their properties and lack of input.
“I have a problem with spending [millions] in taxpayer dollars on about 650 feet of roadway, especially to allow a developer to make millions of dollars in profit,” said Lake Forrest Drive resident Penelope Malone. “I don’t understand why this public hearing wasn’t held in March or April; public input at that time could’ve made a difference in the option chosen.
“Now it appears to be too late for Sandy Springs homeowners to have any influence in this matter.”