By John Schaffner
Lawrence D. Young, who is widely known as Larry Young, has a law practice and is a part-time judge for the city of Sandy Springs. But his volunteer role as president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods likely consumes more of his time and brings him face to face with more of the issues facing the new city and its neighborhoods and homeowners.
The Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods (SSCN) is a volunteer group of homeowner association officers who pool their knowledge of local regulations, policies and key contacts and work with elected officials and citizen groups to maintain the strength of Sandy Springs’ neighborhoods and keep them vibrant.
According to Young, the council was created in 2000 because “the residential component was not being heard by the Fulton County Commission.” He said its goal at the time was to support the residential element of the community and improve the quality of life in the then unincorporated area of the county. The goal today is to bring together all homeowner and condominium associations to unify the community and to pool knowledge and talents.
Actually, the organization has less member homeowner associations and represents less households than it did before Sandy Springs became a city. At one time, SSCN represented some 75 neighborhood associations with more than 20,000 homes. Now it has 28 association members and represents 5,000 to 6,000 homes according to Young. Any homeowner group can become a member by paying $5 a year to the city.
Young believes that more neighborhood and homeowner associations are not now members because the formation of the city brought these groups and their membership closer to their government officials and gave them an opportunity to voice their opinions directly to members of city council who live in close proximity to them.
When SSCN was originally formed, its representation was set up by ZIP codes. With the formation of the city the organization was restructured around the city council districts, with one director for each council district and three floating directors who each represent two districts. In addition, there are five officers of the organization.
Young, who is president, also represents the River Shore Estates homeowners association. The two vice presidents are Mark King, who lives in Spaulding Woods, and Trisha Thompson, who represents North Riverside homeowners. The remaining two officers are Cheryl Barlow, the communications person, and Marlise Landeck, treasurer.
The directors by City Council districts are: District 1 Frank Farrell, District 2 Tim Raines, District 3 Dan Berger, District 4 Tochie Blad, District 5 Harriet Mills and District 6 Patty Berkovitz. The three floating directors are Laurie Robbins, Trisha Thompson and Katherine Feeman.
Young explained that he got involved with the group about four years ago when he filed suit to force changes in a Charlie Roberts development next to the North Springs MARTS station, which he said is just now being developed after many of the changes sought by the neighborhoods were negotiated into the plans.
Young said two of the major issues that the organization has been involved with of late have been the city’s new tree ordinance and discussions and negotiations involving discussed development plans for the Dunwoody Place area of the city. And, he added, traffic and transportation issues throughout the city continue to be a hot topic among all residents and for the SSCN.
Zoning issues are an ongoing major part of SSCN’s business. These zoning issues generally are handled through the directors who are responsible for the geographic areas within the city. The directors will work with homeowners through their associations to negotiate with developers to affect development that is consistent with the character and wishes of existing neighborhoods and to protect property values.
The organization also encourages the expansion of green space within the city and the protection of wetlands, watersheds and potential park sites.
The organization is not anti-growth, but instead encourages smart future growth while protecting the neighborhoods and has worked directly with the city to help create a Land Use Plan.
For more information about SSCN and to contact its officer and directors, go to: www.sandyspringscouncil.org.