By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

Greenstone Properties is suing the city of Sandy Springs in response to the City Council’s decision June 17 to deny the rezoning necessary for the company to redevelop Lakeside Office Park on Glenridge Drive.

Lakeside Office Park houses five office buildings, each of which is two to five stories. Greenstone’s plans included 300 residential units, 1.13 million square feet of new and existing office space, 50,000 square feet of retail space, and a 200-room hotel.

The company seeks “substantial damages” from the city.

The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, alleges Greenstone bought the property for $62 million only after receiving assurances and positive feedback on its redevelopment plans from city officials. Greenstone says the time and expense of designing the proposed development cost the company at least $1 million.

The Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, the Glenridge Hammond Homeowners Association and others vehemently opposed the redevelopment. Council members decided that the traffic congestion generated by the development would be unacceptable, so they rejected the proposal.

Greenstone contends it agreed to make traffic improvements that would decrease current congestion. City traffic engineers reviewed the company’s plans and recommended that the project be approved, as did the Planning Commission and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

Greenstone Properties President De Little said he would have preferred to avoid a lawsuit.

“I do not think anyone had a real issue with our master plan other than its traffic impact. We worked hard to come up with a traffic plan that would accommodate the impact of our development and leave things better than we found it,” he said in a written statement.

Richard Robbins of RobbinsLaw represents the company and said he is still calculating the dollar value of the damages Greenstone suffered through the delay in its plans.

“There always seems to be more opposition than there is. If you took a count of the people who oppose this development vs. the number of Sandy Springs residents, it would be an extremely small portion,” the lawyer said.

Robbins expressed frustration at the process of trying to get Greenstone’s plans approved, an effort that began in December.

“It was very frustrating to have this level of support by traffic professionals and to have the council and some citizens completely ignore it.”

Lakeside Office Park is in Councilman Tibby DeJulio’s District 5. He said he couldn’t comment extensively on the pending litigation.

“All I can say is that we did what we felt was right for the city and for the residents,” he said.

City Attorney Wendell Willard also said he couldn’t comment extensively. “We just received the lawsuit, but I can assure you that the position we have about it is: The position of the City Council will be vigorously defended.”