By C. Julia Nelson
cjnelson@reporternewspapers.net

Roberts Drive residents will have to settle on a compromise with the Sandy Springs City Council regarding a controversial rezoning matter just east of Roswell Road.

During the Jan. 15 meeting, council members voted unanimously to rezone 9670, 9680 and 9710 Roberts Dr. from a CUP (community unit planned) to an R-3 ( single family dwelling) district after more than a year of ongoing debate.

Located in district 1 of Sandy Springs, the new zoning allows for the development of six single-family units, or a density of 1.88 units per acre on the 3.2 acre parcel.

Approval to rezone was conditional upon several requests presented to council by neighbors of the property. (See Conditions, page 3.)

Garry Post, a Roberts Drive resident, presented the neighborhood’s concerns during the meeting.

“The neighbors want to preserve the neighborhood,” Post said. “We just want it to stay the same and we think this is an acceptable compromise.”

District 1 council member, Doug MacGinnitie expressed his satisfaction in the compromise between council and the neighbors of Roberts Drive.

“It makes me feel good about the future of this city and what we can do when we work together,” MacGinnitie said. “(R-3 zoning) fits the land use plan we just adopted.”

While several neighbors voiced satisfaction with the end result, at least one neighbor is not compelled to support the compromise. Bill Griffin of Roberts Drive has been opposed to the rezoning from day one; he said the compromise is an attempt to settle an ongoing litigation suit against the city, rather than an attempt to do what is best for the neighborhood.

“The comprehensive plan provides for new developments to be consistent with the adjacent properties,” Griffin said. “More than two (units per acre) is not consistent if you lose the suit. If you have to rezone higher it’s not consistent with what’s there now. One unit per acre is reasonable.”

Efforts to rezone the three properties are a direct result of a request made originally in October 2006 and again in March 2007 by Lefko Investments, LLC and Katz Capitol, LLC to rezone the property from a CUP conditional to A (medium density apartment district).

Based on limitations allowable by the Interim Comprehensive Plan at that time, Mark Lefkovits of Lefko Investments said the first proposal included 38 townhomes at a density of 11.875 units per acre. After denial from council, the applicants redesigned the plan based on city staff recommendations and neighbor concerns. They returned with a proposal to build 19 detached homes at a density of 5.94 units per acre, which council also denied.

“Initially staff recommended 26 units (after the initial 38), but we reduced it to appeal to the neighbors concerns,” Lefkovits said.

Based on council’s denial of the original application and its revision, Lefko Investments has litigation pending in the Fulton County Superior Court against the city of Sandy Springs.

The case was put on hold pending the outcome of council’s decision to rezone based on the new Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which was approved by the State of Georgia late last year.

Relative to how the recent decision might impact the current litigation, Sandy Springs attorney Wendell Willard declined to comment but said the decision will probably not have a settling effect on the pending suit.

“We’re hoping to resolve it; that’s why council made their decision,” Willard said.

Lefkovits declined to comment on the pending litigation, but did say the applicants respect the decision council made.

In other business, Sandy Springs City Council:

Deferred a request to rezone property at 5775 and 5795 Glendridge Dr. from O-I conditional and R-2 to MIX for the development of new residential and office space for 60 days. The applicant, MGLP Lakeside, LLP will reevaluate the site plan with the Sandy Springs Planning Commission and Zoning Commission in the mean time.

Deferred a request to rezone property at 305 Carpenter Dr. from A-L conditional to MIX for the development of a senior independent living facility and commercial space for 60 days. The Sandy Springs Plan Commission will review the site plan with the applicant, Masoud Zahedi, before the March council meeting.

Voted 4-3, with Mayor Eva Galambos providing the tie-breaking vote, in favor of the plan commission’s recommendation to rezone property at 5619 Lake Forest Dr. from TR conditional to O-I for the development of 22,000 sq. ft. office building with concurrent variances. Council members DeJulio, Paul and Meinzen McEnerny voted against the motion.