The city’s comprehensive plan sets forth a land-use map that defines suitable development for every lot in Sandy Springs. The document took 28 people 18 months to produce.

But the Planning Commission threw out the plan July 16 when it approved a zoning change for 78 W. Belle Isle Road.

If the City Council grants approval Aug. 18, the applicant can subdivide the 0.36-acre residential lot and build two 3,000-square-foot houses 50 feet from the road.

City staff recommended denial of the application because the land-use map shows the lot with a density of about 2.78 units per acre (half the applicant’s 5.56-units-per-acre request) and a 60-foot front setback.

But attorney Nathan “Pete” Hendricks III won the case for property owners Al and Martha Collinger after explaining why such development was “not out of sync” with the rest of the street.

He said the proposed construction is compatible with the platting scheme of contiguous lots, especially those to the west that are similar in density.

Although six residents spoke in opposition, the majority of the commission agreed with Hendricks.

Vice Chairman Wayne Thatcher said it was “common sense” to approve the application.

“This is the odd lot on the block,” member Donald Boyken said. “I’m confused as to why there is so much confusion.”

But Susan Maziar defended the comprehensive plan and said the approval could set a dangerous precedent for denser development. “There is huge potential in this area,” she said. “If we don’t stick to the plan … it could affect a larger area.”

Maziar said the commission is “charged with upholding the plan,” but Chairman Lee Duncan replied: “The plan is not the gospel.”

The application passed 3-1 with Maziar dissenting.

— Amy Wenk