By John Schaffner
A change was made to the monthly Sandy Springs Community Zoning Information Meeting format on June 25 to accommodate a large contingent of residents opposed to the expansion plans for The Epstein School who made it known they were coming to the meeting, according to city Planning Director Nancy Leathers.
The format of the monthly meeting was changed from an “informal open house” in a side room at city hall to a more formal meeting, which was moved into the main auditorium and where input from those attending was recorded.
Leathers said both sides were informed of the change two or three days in advance of the meeting when she heard “we were going to have a ton of people there.” In fact some 150 people reportedly signed in at the meeting, almost all opposed to the plans for growth at The Epstein School.
Leathers said that the change in meeting format did not have to be advertised in advance because it was not taking the place of any public hearing on the issue. And, she said it might happen again in the future, although she does not plan to change the normal format for those meetings.
“When you have a small group of citizens show up to get information on projects in the works, we can handle taking notes on what is said,” Leathers explained. “But, when you have a large group (like the one June 25) the only way we can take down what they are saying is to have their comments recorded” and that requires changing the format.
The Epstein School is before the city with plans to expand its enrollment from 650 to 850 students, which would require expanding its facilities, enlarging a parking lot, relocating an existing soccer field and some other changes, which have met with vocal opposition from some of the surrounding neighborhoods.