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Council defers heavily contested zoning modification
by Savannah Weeks
December 04, 2012 09:53 PM | 2830 views | 6 6 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At Tuesday night’s heavily attended Sandy Springs City Council meeting, the council voted 4-3 to defer a zoning modification that would allow driveway access from a medical office building on Glenridge Drive.

The modification would allow driveway access onto Glenforest Road, which is an entrance road to the Glenridge Forest subdivision.

Planning staff members made no recommendation, as there is related pending litigation.

Ed Ellis, a representative from Raleigh-based design firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, spoke on behalf of the modification.

“We found that the volumes [of vehicles] are fairly low on Glenforest. There are less than 30 per hour,” he said.

Ellis said the best option for the medical office building and the neighborhood is to provide right-turn only access from the building onto Glenforest Road, with a raised curb in the middle of the road that will prevent turning left into the neighborhood as well as turning left into the complex. Patients will still have to turn into the complex from Glen-ridge.

Ellis said this would be a safety improvement, as making a left turn onto busy Glenridge is difficult throughout the day.

Nancy Leathers, consultant to the Glenridge Forest, spoke in favor of denying the request and asked the council to provide consistent protection of neighborhoods by denying the request.

A lawsuit regarding another issue was filed against the city by Glenridge Partners LLC at almost the same time the zoning modification request was filed, according to DeJulio.

“[Glenridge Partners] have tried to blackmail us,” he said. “I think this is the first time a zoning application and lawsuit have been put in at the same time.”

District 3 Councilman Chip Collins originally made a motion to deny the request, with District 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny seconding the motion.

District 4 Councilman Gabriel Sterling later made a substitute motion to defer the modification request until the next council meeting, Jan. 15.

District 2 Councilwoman Dianne Fries seconded Sterling’s motion. With Sterling, Fries and District 1 Council-man John Paulson voting for the motion to defer, McEnerny, Collins and District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio voted against the deferral.

With the vote knotted at 3-3, Mayor Eva Galambos was required to break the tie and voted for the deferral.

“I think you’ve got an opportunity to negotiate here,” said Galambos pointedly to residents at the meeting after referencing the fact that speed coning [speed bumps] was minimal on the road, as well as landscaping around the medical office building. “I’m voting with the deferral in hopes you folks get with the developers and figure out a compromise.”

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Hayley S.
December 13, 2012
A number of points about this re-zoning effort bother me, but I feel most compelled to point out a quote from our city leader that I feel is just plain backwards: "I’m voting with the deferral in hopes you folks get with the developers and figure out a compromise.” We have been working with them. For years. But this re-zoning request has been made by the medical center. Isn't the responsibility on THEM to negotiate with US? Why are WE being tasked with finding a better solution when the current law prevents them from encroaching on our streets at all?

Obviously, those that voted to defer the decision recognize that the current request does not present a very good solution for the neighborhood. So shouldn't the vote reflect that (aka "No"), forcing the medical center to pursue other options or find better "compromise" with the neighborhood?

It just rubs me the wrong way to be told that we need to be the ones to compromise when it is not us seeking to change the law.
Tracy S
December 13, 2012
First or all, it does not matter how high the speed bumps are, how many cars drive on Glenforest daily, or any other deterrent brought up by those in favor of this cut through. It is merely a tactic to create a diversion.

The simple matter is this is commercial encroachment into a long established neighborhood, a residential space where people gather, walk, run, bicycle and children play etc. Now we are compelled to fight for our neighborhood.

I encourage those with voting power who don’t seem to think this is a problem to remember the oath you took and the promises you made when elected – to support the residents of Sandy Springs.

And finally, I go back to hire a traffic cop, build the brick wall as agreed upon -just do the right thing. What gives you the authority to destroy a neighborhood 50 years old?

And yes, report the facts! All of them…

Jody N
December 12, 2012
It makes me very nervous for the city of Sandy Springs residents if the city is going to allow businesses to put driveways into neighborhoods that will endanger the residents. Tibby DeJulio even mentioned blackmail - that should be a huge red flag that this shouldn't go through. Are we going to allow businesses to start blackmailing us to get their way?

A few years ago the neighborhood agreed to let this property expand their parking lot if they put in a brick wall. It is a legally binding agreement; however, they will not hold up their end of the deal - there is still no brick wall. So, if we do any sort of 'compromise', why should we expect them to uphold their end of the deal? And with that, what could a compromise be? The neighborhood loses if there is any sort of driveway.

I also urge you to interview the neighborhood about this.
Chrissy R
December 12, 2012
I'd like to know if Ms. Weeks is aware of the promises Mayor Galambos made to this neighborhood. We were promised it would be protected and there are WAY more than 30 cars FLYING through this neighborhood on an average day. Once this guy has access to Glenridge Hammond neighborhood, what's to say he can't start buying up property to make his complex bigger? Glenridge Partners even stated at the meeting that they don't even consider Glenridge Forrest rd a "neighborhood street" - THERE WOULD'T EVEN BE A STREET THERE IF THERE WASN'T A NEIGHBORHOOD!!! Go around Buckhead and down Hammond - Guess what proactive business owners do to alleviate their parking/exiting issues - they hire police officers - EVERY DAY. They don't feel entitled to just cut in and put a driveway whenever they see fit. Not to mention, in a legal document, the neighborhood was told the property owner would put a nice brick wall when we agreed to let him expand the parking lot. Ms. Weeks needs to do a little more homework for her "neighborhood" stories.
Chrissy R
December 12, 2012
edit - and there are WAY more than 30 cars **an hour** FLYING through this neighborhood on an average day.

Lynn W.
December 12, 2012
Why was there no effort made to interview the over 50 residents of Glenridge Hammond? We are fervently opposed to anyone accessing our residential neighborhood. We might as well invite all of Glendridge Drive onto our neighborhood streets. This is a horrible precedent for any neighborhood in Sandy Springs, should it be approved. Further, it's the fourth in a string of decisions where the mayor has chosen not to represent her constiuents. I urge you to please reach out to our neighborhood and get the whole story.
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