To the editor:
I am writing regarding redevelopment in Sandy Springs, specifically the Gateway proposal, also known as JLB Partners Development.
In 2005, when Sandy Springs became a city, Eva Galambos and TibbyDeJulio sold us on cityhood for several compelling reasons. Fulton County was neglecting us and forcing unfair zoning upon us. Our quality of life was being squandered. So we formed our own city, elected representatives and went about making years of needed improvements.
Eight years later, you can often tell where Sandy Springs city limits are due to pavement alone. But our zoning decisions are looking more and more like Fulton County’s reign. Businesses too often trump taxpaying residents. Increasing tax revenues trumps protecting our quality of life.
At nearly every zoning hearing, I hear attorneys cite previous decisions that created precedents they believe now condone their request. Examples: Church of Scientology, Lakeside on Glenridge, Gallery 63 Auction House.
The Gateway proposal would replace 436 apartments with 630 — plus add seven buildings (120,000 square feet) of commercial space. The building heights (up to five stories) and density are way over our Comprehensive Land Use Plan and even required review by ARC and GRTA.
GRTA ruled our current infrastructure can’t handle this density, so conditioned their approval on several things, including relocating the intersection of Windsor Parkway at Roswell Road, north of its current location. And with nine buildings proposed, JLB doesn’t have enough required parking, so they’re also asking for a parking variance.
The development’s benefits are:
1) replacing aging apartments with upscale ones;
2) likely reducing crime in the area;
3) reducing the number of students attending High Point schools;
4) adding restaurants and shopping in walking distance of residences.
The development’s unintended consequences:
1) adding 8,554 trips (weekdays) and 10,374 (Saturdays) to our already overloaded stretch of Roswell Road, mainly due to the commercial space (based on GRTA/Foresite Study);
2) setting dangerous precedents on building height, density and parking, which could allow other apartment to increase their numbers by 44.5 percent in five-story towers, plus add major retail with inadequate parking;
3) necessitating a multi-million dollar relocation of Windsor Parkway at Roswell, which takes land from residents, and severely impacts several businesses, and which cannot possibly allow an additional 8,000 to 10,000 cars without reduction in our traffic flow.
JLB has made several compromises with its residential neighbors, and we heartily thank them. This development is welcome — but at a lowered density that will not create gridlock, overflow parking onto residential streets, and ruin the quality of life we all moved here for.
This application gets a City Council vote on July 16, so residents, email councilpersons your views.
Jane Kelley, president, Windsor Park Community Association