By Gerhard Schneibel
Greenstone Properties and MetLife have apparently lost their chance to build a mixed-use development at the Lakeside Office Park on Glenridge Drive after a prolonged fight with the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, the Glenridge Hammond Homeowners Association and others.
City Council members voted 3-0 June 17, with two abstentions and one absence, to deny rezoning the property to MIX zoning for the development of 300 residential units, 1,125,00 square feet of new and existing office space, 50,000 square feet of retail space, and a 200-room hotel.
The planning commission deferred the project Dec. 20. The developers then offered concessions on density issues and developer-funded road improvements.
“We’ve heard over and over again that the existing traffic situation on Glenridge and in this general area is intolerable, so we looked at what we could do to increase the traffic capacity of the road system out there,” said Carl Westmoreland, a Seyfarth-Shaw attorney for the developer.
De Little, the president of Greenstone Properties, said traffic studies showed that under the proposal 14½ cars per minute would use the development’s sole entrance during peak hours. “In our mind we’re leaving it better off than we found it, and we’re part of the solution for traffic.”
But Dist. 4 Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins said traffic would overwhelm the development’s entrance at rush hour, leaving hundreds of vehicles stuck inside the complex.
Residents said they had hoped the developer would adopt a less ambitious plan under the city’s Live/Work Community zoning.
“I and my association were very pleased to hear [the council’s March request] for the developer to go back and work with the communities to come up with a design that has the Live/Work Community designation as a guideline. … The follow-up there did not happen,” said Pete Novotny, the president of the Glenridge-Hammond Neighborhood Association.
Westmoreland said his attempts to communicate with residents were unsuccessful. He said he had explained to Novotny: “This is where we are. I assume there is no reason to meet because you understand where we are. We’re really not addressing the issue in the way that you want us to.”
Dist. 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio read part of an e-mail from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta concerned about ambulances navigating gridlock on Glenridge Drive. He also joked about the overwhelming opposition to the project: “You’ve set a new record in the number of e-mails I have received. Not only the number — it’s the first time I haven’t received a single e-mail in favor of a project.”
He said the project “is just too dense.”
DeJulio, Jenkins and Dist. 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny voted to deny the rezoning application. Dist. 1 Councilman Doug MacGinnitie and Dist. 2 Councilwoman Dianne Fries abstained, and Dist. 3 Councilman Rusty Paul was absent.