By Katie Fallon

At the Aug. 17 meeting of the city’s Planning Commission, the redevelopment of the Prado shopping center just south of I-285 received approval of a rezoning request that removes a 2.07-acre tract of land from the original 27.15 acres being redeveloped by the Sembler Company.

The rezoning was approved with a vote of 4 to 3. Prior to the meeting, the city’s Planning and Zoning staff in the Department of Community Development recommended approval of Prado LLC’s concurrent variance request to reduce the number of required parking spaces.

The applicant will still need final approval from the City Council, but it now has tentative approval to rezone the site to develop a 20,331 square foot retail space and reduce the number of required parking spaces from 102 to no less than 74. The rezoning is part of an overall 345,000 square foot retail and office space redevelopment that will bring such big-name retailers as Target, Home Depot and Publix to the Prado and its surrounding area.

The issue did bring some controversy before the commission members even began their discussion.

Two days prior to the Planning Commission meeting, the Design Review Board (DRB) was scheduled to hear the same request, but elected to defer its vote until its Aug. 28 meeting. Because of that deferment, some in attendance at the Aug. 20 meeting felt the Planning Commission should defer the issue as well.

Representing the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, resident Patty Berkovitz said she expected further referral because the neighbors and DRB wanted more information about the redevelopment’s elevations. The city’s Department of community Development director Nancy Leathers, however, said rezoning applicants are not required to submit elevations.

“I guess I don’t understand the process,” Berkovitz said. “I thought that a deferral by the Design Review Board meant that we got it worked out before it came to the Planning Commission.”

Berkovitz said Prado LLC is supposed to come back with its rezoning and variance request for a marathon meeting with the Design Review Board at its Aug. 28 meeting.

“There were some issues that were brought out,” Berkovitz said. “The Design Review Board asked for elevations and other items that Mr. Hendricks and his client have agreed to supply. The Council of Neighborhoods spent about an hour and a half with [Prado LLC] and we are in the process of working out some of the things that we think are problems.”

In particular, Berkovitz said the Council of Neighborhoods is concerned with how things will look along Roswell Road.

Representing Prado LLC, Pete Hendricks said the layout of the development has not changed and that his client has even submitted exact specifications of how much and what type of landscaping it will be installing in the project.

“As we have gone through permitting, we have run into some issues, and I think this is very important, that do not involve new tenants coming in or new marketing coming in, but where the public is going…the footprint of which has not changed one bit,” Hendricks said. “This is a big project and this is going to be a while to be developed out.”

The site of the rezoning is located at 5600 Roswell Road along the west side of the road at the intersection with Lake Placid Drive.