By Amy Wenk
As Sandy Springs City Council gears up to take another vote on the redevelopment of Lakeside Office Park, nearby property owners are lining up in opposition.
“I think the main concern we all have is traffic,” said Ralph Edwards, co-owner of the Glenridge Medical Center, which is across the street from Lakeside on Glenridge Drive.
Council denied plans to remake Lakeside in 2008 due to concerns about how much traffic would be generated. The case has been in court since.
To resolve litigation with the property owners, the city of Sandy Spring in May presented a new compromise plan for the 26-acre office park on Glenridge Drive at the intersection of Ga. 400 and I-285. The city itself is the applicant for the new plan. Council will take a vote Aug. 17.
Some council members were reluctant to talk about how they will vote.
“I’m not going to discuss the merits of the Lakeside project until after we have our vote,” Dist. 3 Councilman Chip Collins said. Dist. 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny said she had no comment.
The Sandy Springs Planning Commission in July recommended a decision on the plan be deferred for up to 90 days.
“We were disappointed in that,” said attorney Carl Westmoreland, who represents MetLife, the owners of Lakeside. “We felt that we had addressed most of the issues.”
Greenstone Properties, the developers active in the 2008 zoning case, have since dropped out, he said.
The new plan proposes to keep four of five existing office buildings and add 520 apartments, a 16-story office building, covered parking and a restaurant to the site.
The plans that were denied in 2008 would have kept three office buildings and added 300 apartments, two 16-story office buildings, 50,000 square feet of retail space and a 200-room hotel.
Despite the scaled-down plan, nearby residents and business people still think too much traffic will be generated.
Northside Hospital wrote the planning commission questioning the plan.
“In particular, we are concerned about the impact of this additional traffic volume on the arrival of emergency vehicles and obstetric patients as they approach the hospital, especially from the north, east and west,” Deborah Mitcham, Northside vice president of finance and CFO, wrote July 14 in a letter to the commission. “Any time lost in transporting patients to the hospital in an emergency situation can be critical to the outcome for that patient.”
Some residents have suggested a solution to mitigate traffic.
Mark Sampl, vice president of communications for the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, said an interior road, similar to the loop road at the Concourse office park, should be built at Lakeside. The road would connect with the new Ga. 400 half-diamond interchange at Hammond Drive and to a ramp onto westbound I-285.
“To me, it just makes all the sense in the world,” Sampl said.
But Westmoreland said, “We don’t think that it’s realistic.”
He said rights-of-way would have to be acquired from several property owners. Westmoreland also said the Georgia Department of Transportation has acquired property to build a road as part of the revive285 project.
The Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods also argues that the density of development at Lakeside should be reduced and a landscaped buffer between the nearby neighborhoods and Glenridge Drive should be increased in size.
“We are still trying to negotiate with the Lakeside folks,” said Doug Falciglia of the Glenridge Hammond Homeowners Association, a group that opposed the original proposal because of the traffic it could have caused.
“We’re hopeful we will be able to have an impact between now and then,” Edwards said. “We intend to have our message heard.”