By Katie Fallon

The document that will guide development in Sandy Springs for the next two decades has now become official.

At its Nov. 20 meeting, the City Council passed the Sandy Springs 2025 Comprehensive Plan. Until then, development in Sandy Springs was guided by the Comprehensive Plan dictated by Fulton County prior to the community’s incorporation.

An interim plan was adopted in June of 2006 and since that time, the race was on to complete a new plan. The city was led in its efforts by the Community Development Department and guided by the Citizens Advisory Committee, a group of about 30 residents with varying degrees of development knowledge and experience.

Deputy Community Development Director Vann McNeill, who led the process, said the first CAC meeting was held on July 24, 2006. The state gave the city until Dec. 1 of this year to complete the process in order to obtain its Qualified Local Government certification from the state of Georgia.

McNeill looked decidedly relieved when the council solidified more than 16 months of work on the part of the Community Development staff.

“I am pleased that the work is done,” McNeill said. “This Comprehensive Plan is the first to be completed for the city that reflects a future vision developed through the guidance of the Mayor and City Council, Citizens Advisory Committee, Planning Commission, Design Review Board, Board of Zoning Appeals, the business community, and many, many citizen participants.”

McNeill said he’d never been involved in a project where everyone involved was so committed to and supportive of the process.

“I think the outcome of that commitment is a plan that will result in Sandy Springs becoming an incredible place to live, work and play,” he said.

Of a contentious nature during the Comprehensive Plan process, however, were the more than 42 changes made to the land use map, which gives zoning classifications to all property, both residential and commercial, within the city limits.

Over the course of the plan’s development, land use meetings frequently continued for several hours. Members of the CAC often became confused when confronted with multiple maps, voters and advocacy groups each wanting to voice their opinion.

McNeill admitted that with all the parties involved, the process became quite cumbersome at times. The city held a total of 26 CAC meetings, public information meetings, public hearings and visioning workshops that included not only city staff, the CAC and community input, but the work of three independent consultants.

“At times, it was a little overwhelming keeping tabs on everyone involved,” McNeill said. “And keeping track of all the land use map revisions and all the committee votes on each one! That process kicked my organizational skills up several notches!”

While a few “clean up” amendments had to be included in the final vote, the passage of the document brought cheers and clapping from Mayor Eva Galambos and the council.