By Gerhard Schneibel

Sandy Springs beautification was the topic of the City Council’s Sept. 9 work session, and the discussion revealed that it was illegal to install brick mailboxes in the city.

That law changed Sept. 16, however, after the council revised an update to development regulations. Brick mailboxes with hollow centers — no cinder blocks — now are OK.

City engineer Mark Moore said the mailboxes have been against regulations for five or six years. He said the Texas Transportation Institute in College Station ran experiments in which cars driving 15 to 20 mph hit brick mailboxes, resulting in “some pretty disturbing images.”

Dist. 2 Councilwoman Dianne Fries raised the issue and asked her colleagues whether they thought the ban was warranted. “There are no more brick mailboxes in the city of Sandy Springs — new ones. Do you feel like that’s something we want to continue?” she said. “I’ve had a close friend’s child die hitting one of those, and it breaks my heart, but quit drinking and driving.”

Mayor Eva Galambos and Dist. 4 Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins spoke out for brick mailboxes. Other council members took a less definitive stance.

During the work session, council members also discussed making streetscape manual amendments to the city’s overlay districts, especially in the Main Street District, which runs along Roswell Road between Cromwell Road and Lake Placid Drive.

The proposed changes would include decorative street lights on sidewalks several feet from the curb, along with trees and a hedge. The concrete sidewalks would be decorated in part with brick patterns.

Sandy Springs and MARTA also have reached an agreement that the city will install its own bus shelters, said Chris Miller, the deputy director of community development. Miller presented the council with some designs of prefabricated shelters that would cost $8,300 before installation and wouldn’t have advertisements or MARTA logos on them.

Dist. 3 Councilman Rusty Paul seemed least enthusiastic about the beautification. The overlays are burdensome to small landowners, who have to spend money to meet their requirements, he said.

“I like the look, and I like a lot of the things we’re doing,” he said. But “I drive down Roswell Road and see that we’re putting all this money into this overlay and then just see these wonderful, big, huge utility towers and power lines that just totally obliterate everything we’re doing on a positive level.”

Fries said the Georgia Department of Transportation recently installed brick decorations while working on two projects in the city. “I just want us to be consistent,” she said.