By Gerhard Schneibel

The Sandy Springs City Council unanimously voted Feb. 17 to approve the mixed-use development planned by Oxford Properties at 1155 Hammond Drive, despite a Jan. 15 recommendation by the Planning Commission that the application be denied.

The council did not discuss the application before voting, but the development is expected to play a key role in road improvements around Hammond Drive and Peachtree-Dunwoody Road.

The Planning Commission had deferred the Hammond Center application in November, seeking towers as high as 30 stories to bring the application into compliance with the city’s comprehensive land use plan.

Woody Galloway, a Dillard & Galloway lawyer representing Oxford Properties, argued it wouldn’t be cost-effective to build higher than the planned six stories. It also wouldn’t be possible to put retail space into such towers, he said.

The surrounding area “is out of balance with many more jobs than housing,” and the mixed-use development will provide a “balance to the imbalance,” Galloway said Feb. 17.

Oxford Properties is planning 20,000 square feet of restaurant space, 50,000 square feet of retail space and 398 apartments. It will keep an existing 120-room hotel on the site.

In other business Feb. 17, the council unanimously voted to approve:

• Resolutions to impose fees on wired and wireless telephones and voice-over-Internet services to help fund the planned 911 center when it becomes operational. Fulton County collects the same fees, and in the future Sandy Springs will, City Attorney Wendell Willard said.

• A request to privatize the main street entrance of the Prado shopping center, effectively granting the center relief from sign ordinances inside the development.

• The transfer of the Ridgeview Charter School access road along Ga. 400 to the Fulton County Board of Education. That move will allow the school system to build a sidewalk that doesn’t conform to Georgia Department of Transportation standards. The sidewalk must cross a ravine, and instead of a retaining wall, the design will save money and time by bridging the ravine using pylons.

The sidewalk also will provide safer access to the city’s Ridgeview Park, school board member Gail Dean said at a community meeting earlier in the day. But with sales tax revenues down, the school system might not have capital funds available for the project.