The draft of Sandy Springs’ new Comprehensive Plan released earlier this week will get many changes from public input over the coming months. But it got one instant edit already, when city officials realized the plan “overstepped” by calling for Hammond Drive to be a transit-lined route serving Cobb County commuters.

“The city has not made that design,” said city spokesperson Sharon Kraun. “We toned that [language] down.”

The city’s long-proposed widening of Hammond Drive between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive is controversial, with many local homeowners saying it is unnecessary. The city has a nuanced position that it is only studying and design a potential project without making a decision to move ahead. Meanwhile, the city is also buying houses on Hammond as placeholders. Mayor Rusty Paul and some city councilmembers have indicated they want mass transit running on Hammond, but it is not yet an explicit policy.

The draft Comp Plan, which sets out land uses and policies, contains 10 “key actions” for the city’s next decade of urban planning. One of those items is about Hammond Drive and originally said:

“Redesign Hammond Drive as a major east/west multimodal connection that will include a transit link between Sandy Springs and Cobb/Cumberland Counties [sic], possibly connecting through an overbuild area with dedicated transit on I-285.”

The draft Comprehensive Plan’s original Hammond Drive language.

Now, after the city’s editing, it says only: “Redesign Hammond Drive as an east-west connection.”

The Comp Plan’s current Hammond Drive language after the editing.

Kraun said the city had not yet vetted the draft Comp Plan when it was posted online. Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert caught the Hammond Drive language in a condensed version consultants created for the July 19 City Council meeting, Kraun said. Tolbert noticed it only about an hour before the meeting, and Kraun edited the presentation herself. The actual Comp Plan draft was later edited to match.

Kraun’s instant edit for the council meeting still called for Hammond to be “a major east-west connection.” An even softer version was put in the Comp Plan, removing the word “major.”

The draft Comp Plan has not had any other such instant major changes, Kraun said, adding that the Hammond Drive change was made because it was “incorrect from the start.”

The new Comp Plan is part of the city’s “Next Ten” planning process conducted by a team of consultants led by the firm Rhodeside & Harwell.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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