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.”