Some residents from Sandy Springs’ eastern panhandle want the city to find a different location for a new fire station that is not in the middle of their neighborhood.

The city held its second community meeting on June 23 regarding a plan to build a fire station at 7800 Mount Vernon Road, which is at the intersection of Spalding Drive and Mount Vernon Road. 

Fire Station 5 is proposed for the intersection of Mount Vernon Road and Spalding Drive in Sandy Springs.

The $5 million project, Fire Station 5, is proposed for a residential area and is being designed to look like a house. The city in February spent $450,000 to buy the property.

Several residents on June 23 asked the city to consider other locations, such as the Life Center Ministries property at 2690 Mount Vernon Road. Other residents wanted the city to keep the fire station at Spalding and Roberts Drive, but also build a new fire station near The Mansions at Sandy Springs Senior Living Center in the far eastern section of the panhandle. 

Some people feel the city is breaking a promise to keep the area residential.

Roberta Shaumbaugh, 83, of Blandford Place said she and her husband, who is 90, can’t just pick up and move. The couple first moved to the Atlanta area in 1971. When they bought their home in what is now Sandy Springs, she said they felt there was a commitment to single-family dwelling homes in the neighborhood. But now the city is “totally disregarding your commitment, your pledge of zoning,” she said.

A few residents spoke in favor of the location, including Linda Bain of Kimbrough Court.

“There was a house that almost burned down in our neighborhood when we were with Fulton County, because they didn’t have an operating truck to get to the fire,” Bain said. “And so I’m particularly sensitive to that kind of situation and the protection of my investment, just like the others are speaking of.”

Answering residents’ questions about why won’t the city rebuild Fire Station No. 1 at Roberts Drive and build the new fire station near The Mansions, Sanders said it wouldn’t improve response times. Currently, average response times in the panhandle range from 10 to 13 minutes. “We strive for eight minutes or less, 90% of the time,” Sanders had said in an early June interview. 

Also, the city doesn’t have the funds for those projects, Sanders said. 

“We do not have the funding to build our Station One beside the police headquarters at Morgan Falls, nor do we have the funding to build the training facility,” Sanders said. “The city has bought the property, but there is no funding today for that. Nor in the next two to three years.”

Councilman John Paulson said since he was first elected, he’s been telling the Fire Department that District 1 – the panhandle – needs better response times. The city does have a fire truck nearby in a Roswell station. But those firefighters answer more Roswell fire calls than they do in Sandy Springs, he said.

“This is the single best solution that he and his people have come back with,” Paulson said of the fire chief. 

Paulson added, to calm fears that the fire station would lead to other commercial development on Mount Vernon, that “this is not some subtle sneaky way of getting a big commercial strip down Mount Vernon .. It’s just not true,” Paulson said.

Sandy Springs has looked at potential locations for the fire station for about a decade, city spokesman Dan Coffer said previously. 

The planning commission is set to hear the proposal Aug. 18, with city council expected to vote Sept. 21. 

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.