The Sandy Springs City Council discussed Jan. 13 altering its overlay district requirements to make it less likely for small property owners undergoing renovations to trigger mandatory streetscape improvements.

Currently, if an owner does a renovation worth 40 percent of a property’s assessed value, streetscape improvements often become mandatory. In the Roswell Road “Main Street District,” those improvements include a brick sidewalk pattern, street lights and street trees.

The mandate affects small properties more than large commercial properties because they reach the threshold of 40 percent of assessed value more quickly. The City Council therefore discussed changing the rule to 40 percent of appraised value.

Dist. 1 Councilman Doug MacGinnitie and Dist. 4 Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins likened the requirement to an “unfunded mandate” and suggested the city find a way to give tax rebates or split the cost of streetscape improvements with property owners.

Dist. 3 Councilman Rusty Paul said the city needs a streetscape improvement plan “that can get us there quickly.”

“We need to step up and fund this if we’re serious about it,” he said. “Right now, we place all the burden on the property owner, and it’s something we all benefit from. We’ll never get Roswell Road redeveloped like we want unless we take some initiative and get it funded.”