By C. Julia Nelson
cjnelson@reporternewspapers.net

In a 5-1 vote, Sandy Springs City Council deferred for 90 days the request to rezone property for the Lakeside, LLP office complex development proposed at 5775 and 5795 Glenridge Drive from O-I (office/industrial) conditional to R-2 (single family dwelling) and MIX use zoning.

The decision is deferred until council’s June 17 meeting based on density and traffic concerns relative to the 26.03-acre property. Council is requesting the developers, Greenstone Properties, align the project with specifications of the Sandy Springs Live/Work Community and Regional formulas.

The formulas limit how much density a project should have, to conform with the community. It limits commercial/office density to 25,000 square feet per acre. Under the proposed plan, office density is more than 43,000 square feet per acre; the proposed residential density is 11.53 units per acre, which is more than eight units per acre less than the allowable density under Live/Work Community restrictions.

Councilwoman Dianne Fries offered the vote of opposition, stating the motion was too restrictive, but that she supports the deferral to continue improving the project.

Currently the proposed site plan, which is adjacent to the I-285/Ga 400 interchange, calls for a 5-story, 300-unit residential facility, three 2-story commercial and retail buildings, an 8-story, 200-room hotel, two, 16-story office towers and two parking decks. Total office/commercial square footage is 1,150,000 sq. ft.

Existing office buildings on the site include three 5-story and two 2-story, totaling 415,000 sq. ft. The 2-story facilities would be demolished under the current plan, while the other three would remain.

In an effort to expedite the approval process, Greenstone Properties president De Little has offered to postpone the development of one of the two 16-story office towers until after he has implemented improvements to the I-285 interchange at Glenridge for west bound traffic. Little said this would include adding a lane to the entrance ramp as well as a right turn only lane to improve traffic flow.

“The situation (at the Glenridge/I-285 interchange) would be better with our improvements than if nothing is done,” Little said. “Traffic will only get worse if nothing is done. “

According to the traffic impact study, this project would generate an additional 395 trips during peak p.m. hours.

Mark Moore, a transportation planner for the city, told council the staff agrees with the applicant on its traffic impact study. The study demonstrated that the afternoon gridlock would be better served receiving support from the developer than doing nothing at this point to alleviate the daily congestion, despite the added trip generation that would come with the project development.

Neighbors of the project spoke both for and against the rezoning request and site plan. The majority of neighbors offered opposition based on “insufferable” traffic on Glenridge during peak afternoon hours near the I-285 interchange for westbound traffic as well as density issues.

“I believe the density is too much,” Pete Novotny, president of the Glenridge/Hammond Neighborhood Association, said. “I’m not against redevelopment, but the project as defined is unacceptable.”

Neighbor Gary Lutrick spoke in support of the project based on traffic improvements and increased property values.

Councilman Rusty Paul, Dist. 3 said he “supports the deferral to give conversation a chance to continue” between the developer, the neighbors and city staff.