During its meeting Tuesday at City Hall, the Sandy Springs City Council voted 5-1 to invoke its right to authorize the use of eminent domain to acquire the property, located at 245 Johnson Ferry Road, for public use. District 4 Councilman Gabriel Sterling dissented.
In rendering the decision, council members ultimately rebuffed a request made by the paint retailer’s legal representation to delay any action on the matter for 60 days.
“Sherwin-Williams has been a longstanding citizen and business within Sandy Springs for the last 20-something years,” said District 1 Councilman John Paulson. “It stuns me that Sherwin-Williams didn’t think this city was serious about developing the city center.
“I sympathize with you. I know everybody wishes these kinds of things don’t happen. … I wish they didn’t, but it’s not as if this has been a secret.”
Tuesday’s decision essentially signals the beginning of the end to the back-and-forth between local government officials and the property owners since the beginning of the year.
The city sent Sherwin-Williams an offer letter of purchase — for $1.25 million — in January. The firm responded Feb. 5, declining to sell or negotiate. Officials then sent the company a letter of condemnation of the Johnson Ferry Road property July 9, said Sandy Springs City Attorney Wendell Willard.
Scott Jacobsen, an attorney representing Sherwin-Williams in the matter, argued Tuesday the store in question is “wholly compatible” with the city center project.
“Certainly, it is not Sherwin-Williams’ desire to close this unique location … but if that is [inevitable], we request a reasonable amount of time — 60 days — to put together a proposal,” Jacobsen said.
Council’s authorization of eminent domain automatically includes a 30-day period for negotiation on a final purchase price between the two sides.
“It would be great if we had a final deal in 30 days, but so long as we felt like we were progressing and had a good faith offer, I’d be inclined to wait even further,” said District 3 Councilman Chip Collins. “But, the faster Sherwin-Williams can move in getting the information together and giving us an offer, certainly the better.”
Council members also expressed their desire to not lose Sherwin-Williams to another jurisdiction.
“We want to keep you in Sandy Springs,” Mayor Eva Galambos told the Sherwin-Williams contingent. “We’ve got some empty places.”