By Katie Fallon
Metropolis Homes developer Jason Yowell won a hard-fought fight at the Aug. 21 City Council meeting to develop 28 single family homes on 7.28 acres along Glenridge Drive between Johnson Ferry Road and Hammond Drive.
The site includes what is known as the Wagon Stop house, which is believed to be one of the oldest surviving homes in what is now the city of Sandy Springs. The home, which has been added on to, is located on one of the seven lots Yowell is redeveloping for a subdivision that will be called Austin Place. It was built in 1835 and served as a rest stop for travelers and the area’s first courtroom.
The approval, which came with a 4 to 2 vote, came only after councilmen Tibby DeJulio and Rusty Paul accused Yowell of threatening the council by saying he could sell the area within the development that he had promised to preserve as a one-acre private park on the Wagon Stop property. Yowell said he has received a letter of intent from a buyer who indicated he could build four homes on the site.
“The biggest problem I have is for you to stand up there and threaten the City Council,” DeJulio told Yowell at the Tuesday evening meeting. “I don’t appreciate that. You’re saying that we could wind up with four houses. That is not the way to approach this council with threats. I take that as an offense. I took it as a threat.”
Furthermore, Paul said he felt Yowell was using the park on the Wagon Stop property to get the higher residential density in the remaining acreage.
“You’re trying to cut corners so that you can shoehorn these properties to get the maximum density in that little piece of property,” Paul told Yowell.
The council also approved two variances that will allow Yowell to build “hammerhead” street endings instead of cul-de-sacs and to reduce the size of his right-of-way. The discussion of hammerheads, which create a T-shaped ending to a street hinged on safety considerations and if the fire department could turn its trucks around on a hammerhead.
Similarly, the council debated on the merits of the private streets within the development because if the future homeowners association disbanded and the streets fell into disrepair, the city would not be able to upgrade them to public standards because they are private roads.
“We have no way to go in and correct them because they are private streets,” said Community Development director Nancy Leathers.”
“We’re creating a nightmare for us,” Paul said.
In its approval, the council agreed that Yowell would not be responsible for relocating a traffic signal box that was previously wrongly installed by Fulton County.
Previously, Yowell’s proposal was denied by the Planning Commission at its July 19 meeting. The commission suggested reducing the density to 21 homes, or three units per acre, but Yowell said he could not afford the lesser density and asked for denial if that was the density the group agreed upon.
Yowell, however, was noticeably happy when the council made its final vote after district 4 councilwoman Ashley Jenkins submitted a substitute motion to approve the plan with the 28 units.
“I have to say that government works,” Yowell said. “It did a great job.”