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City officials, residents talk natural resources
by Bobby Tedder
August 13, 2014 05:30 PM | 1050 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special / City of Sandy Springs / This photo shows the city’s tree canopy around Ga. 400 near the Interstate 285 interchange.
Special / City of Sandy Springs / This photo shows the city’s tree canopy around Ga. 400 near the Interstate 285 interchange.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Joy Ojehomon and Biodun Dada look over the Chattahoochee River near Morgan Falls Overlook Park Monday morning. Parks are among the city's natural resources officials are concerned about.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Joy Ojehomon and Biodun Dada look over the Chattahoochee River near Morgan Falls Overlook Park Monday morning. Parks are among the city's natural resources officials are concerned about.
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City officials and residents are looking to get on the same page concerning natural resource protection, a topic at last week’s special called Sandy Springs City Council meeting at City Hall.

The city’s rapidly changing landscape — existing and projected commercial and residential endeavors — prompted the assembly.

“It is very clear that Mayor [Rusty Paul] and [the] City Council are focused on ensuring that development does not negatively the city’s natural resources,” Sandy Springs Community Development Director Angela Parker said in an email.

The agenda of the meeting was designed to highlight efforts under way pertaining to erosion, sediment control and stormwater as well as the city’s tree canopy.

According to a recent study, the city’s tree canopy is at 62 percent, placing it among the top tier of American cities.

City staffers received direction from officials to proceed with amendments to ordinances which aim to help reduce erosion, reduce flooding and protect the tree canopy.

Parker noted the positive input from residents on hand at City Hall, citing ardent support in general for the proposed amendments.

Longtime resident and Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs founder Patti Berkovitz called the meeting “a good step” toward improving natural resources.

“Until last night, I didn’t see the political will to take the action necessary to protect our streams and, thus, our portion of the river,” Berkovitz said last week. “We presently are in terrible shape.

“We have some of the right stuff on the books, but the regulations haven’t been enforced with consistency. … We are surrounded by [neighboring cities] who have forged ahead and are being proactive. We need to do the same.”

Increasing the number of soil and erosion inspectors — from the current two — is a means to that end, she said. Vigilance in that regard during the city’s aforementioned development renaissance appears to be a hot-button topic all-around.

Sandy Springs has 287 active construction projects, with 121 new single-family detached home sites, Parker said. “Citizens often notify us of erosion control violations; [our] preference is for calls to go to the call center [at (770) 730-5600],” Parker told council members last week.

In the meantime, residents can anticipate a succession of conceptual guideline models for the city’s governing body to consider. An amendment to the erosion control ordinance is expected to be on the agenda Tuesday at the council’s next meeting.

“Staff is [also] working to finalize the tree ordinance amendment and the stormwater code amendments for presentation to council for action as soon as they are ready,” Parker said.

For their part, Berkovitz and company will be taking a wait-and-see approach before giving a final endorsement.

“I want to see how those changes are written,” she said. “Hopefully, the city will mean business. … No wiggle room.”
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