The developer wants to build a 199-unit residential development with a “We Work” style office space rental business on its ground floor to replace this auto service center. (Courtesy Sandy Springs)

Sandy Springs City Council approved a zoning change for a commercial property that’s one block north of I-285 on Roswell Road to allow a six-story mixed-use development.

Shelton McNally Real Estate Partners asked to change the zoning of the property at 5810 Roswell Road at the corner of Allen Road from CS-3 to CS-6. The developer plans to build 199 residential units with a mix of studio, one bedroom/one bath and two bedroom/two bath units, ranging from 575 square feet to 1,025 square feet.

Community Development Director Ginger Sottile said the permitted uses for the property under CS-6 will remain the same as its existing three-story zoning.

“We feel that the proposed CS-6 zoning is very consistent with the environment that we sit in, in addition to being at that gateway into the City Springs district point when you get off 285,” said  Connor McNally of Shelton McNally.

David and Melanie Couchman both asked the City Council to not vote on the zoning change unless some affordable housing provision was part of the development.

David Couchman said the city had a history of seeking housing affordability options, starting with its Next Ten comprehensive development plan, though that option was voted down. Task forces and study groups considered the issue and identified the need for workforce housing.

“In 2020, the council decided they needed to have a better understanding of our housing needs and approved the very comprehensive housing assessment,” he said. “What a great idea that was. An analysis was done and reported back to the city and we were very proud of its results.”

So, the city is back to where it was in 2017, he said, with developers seeking zoning changes and a lack of housing affecting the community.

“If you approve this rezoning As requested, there will be a precedent set allowing developers to increase density without helping to solve our affordable housing crisis in Sandy Springs,” Melanie Couchman said. “They’ll also be diluting your power to create the kind of Sandy Springs we need.”

Look no further than the city’s strategic development plan to learn about the need for affordable housing and how that is affecting the city’s economic development, she said.

“There is not enough housing in the places where it’s needed to meet the demand,” McNally said in response. “That’s why as any economics professor will tell you when there is an excess of demand over supply, prices will rise.”

The need to build underground parking, a steel and concrete structure and the environmental remediation have increased the cost of the development, which makes artificially lower rents not feasible, he said.

Mayor Rusty Paul said he has struggled with this request for more rental units because the city already has more than 60% of its housing stock as rental, which is even more than Atlanta. He said he’s never exercised veto power, but finally decided he would not in this case because this use is probably the best Sandy Springs can hope for on this site.

Councilmember Melissa Mular asked if a traffic study would be completed. McNally said it was not necessary based on the projected difference in traffic volume.

Later in the meeting, Sottile clarified the issue.

“A traffic study would be required at the time of permitting,” Sottile said. “It wasn’t required for the rezoning, but it would be required if this is approved and it goes through the permitting process.”

City Council followed the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approved the zoning change.

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