By Katie Fallon
As early as March of next year, the city should have a vision for reviving another portion of the Roswell Road corridor.
Sandy Springs has contracted with the Sizemore Group to complete a Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) study that will examine ways to enhance the corridor from I-285 south to Meadowbrook Drive and from Lake Forrest Drive east to High Point Road.
The LCI program is an initiative of the Atlanta Regional Commission and has several goals. First, it encourages a diversity of mixed-income residential neighborhoods, employment, shopping and recreation choices at the activity center, town center or corridor level. Second, it provides access to a range of travel modes including transit, roadways, walking and cycling to enable access to all uses within the study area. Finally, an LCI study looks to develop an outreach process that promotes the involvement of all community stakeholders, such as business leaders, homeowners’ associations, civic groups and city government itself.
Sizemore, a planning and architectural firm, was also involved in the city’s previous LCI that brought streetscape improvements and changes in the zoning overlay district to the portion of the Roswell Road corridor north of I-285.
At the Nov. 5 public meeting to kickoff the community input process for the study, Sizemore consultant Bill de St. Albin said the community has a chance, and the financial backing, to affect change in the busy thoroughfare and its surrounding streets.
“This is one of those tools that has some money behind it so if we all decide we’ll move in a certain direction, there is funding to implement what we come up with,” de St. Albin said. “It’s not just a planning study for planning’s sake.”
The study is costing between $100,000 and $125,000 and is scheduled to be completed by March. Sizemore, which also did the LCI study for the City of Smyrna that inspired the city’s downtown Market Village, has completed more than 1,000 similar studies for cities with a variety of challenges.
The challenge scenario is what de St. Albin said drew his firm to come to Sandy Springs.
“I like doing the ones with the challenge and [Sandy Springs] really has a challenge,” de St. Albin said. “This takes a lot of different things into consideration. We want to make sure it’s realistic. We want to ask what the vision is for this area, what we want to save, what is not working.”
District 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny assured meeting participants, however, that whatever plans result from the study will not alter land use designations currently under review by the state.
“This is not going to be a change in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan,” McEnerny said. “I want to alert everybody that after the six to nine months that we’ve done on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, this is going to be a more in depth study of our study area to see if a consultant can look in detail into the traffic counts on Roswell Road.”
McEnerny said Sizemore will also be looking at potential places to improve the city’s grid, if such an improvement can even be made. Nonetheless, she said the recommendations Sizemore makes will be crucial to continuing to overhaul Roswell Road. Thusly, public input will be just as crucial.
“This is an advisory study,” McEnerny said. “It is critical.”
Pond Company consultant Davis Cohen said the study takes six to nine months because of the tremendous amount of public input needed. During the study process, Sizemore will host several more public input meetings.
Similarly, de St. Albin said the study does not seek to change what traditions residents don’t want changed.
“A lot of this area is established and is not going to change,” he said. “It’s really primarily how we can work on the strip to be the best.”
Whoever implements the recommendations Sizemore makes will have the study and community input to work with. De St. Albin said the study will be worthless if it’s not followed as the community intended.
“Documents are only good if the citizens take ownership of them,” de St. Albin said. “When that happens, whoever comes behind to develop this area, he’ll make sure to follow the plan.”