By John Schaffner

The city of Sandy Springs has officially initiated a new zoning request for the proposed redevelopment of Lakeside Office Park on Glenridge Drive.

The plan has been the subject of litigation since City Council denied in June of 2008 on Greenstone Properties’ original rezoning request for the property.

Following the City Council’s denial of the application for the expansion of the Lakeside development, Greenstone Properties President Dee Little filed legal action in an attempt to get the court to overturn the action.

According to Sandy Springs city attorney Wendall Willard, that action went into mediation, “as they generally do. Through that process, Little has revamped the development proposal significantly,” to the point, Willard added, where the city, developer and the city’s insurance company determined it was worth considering a new plan without further legal action. Greenstone had sought “substantial damages” from the city in its suit.

Lakeside Office Park, which is at the intersection of Glenridge, Georgia 400 and I-285, presently houses five office buildings, each of which is two to five stories in height. Greenstone’s original 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 Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, the Glenridge Hammond Homeowners Association and others vehemently opposed the redevelopment. City Council decided that the traffic congestion generated by the development would be unacceptable and rejected that proposal, even after some modifications had been made.

Willard said the proposal now has been substantially modified from the one voted down by City Council June 17, 2008. Where the previous plan had called for two 16-story office towers, there now is only one. The hotel and stand-alone retail units that were part of the previous plan have been removed and there are now more apartments. Willard said the new plan is more in line with the Comprehensive Development Plan for that area.

Willard explained that some jurisdictions would proceed with the re-consideration of the zoning request in the form of a consent order. However, the city of Sandy Springs, under Willard’s guidance, instead handles such situations by having the city “initiate” a new application.

That means the process essentially starts anew, going through all of the steps it previously followed—a review by the Community Development Department, advertising of public hearings, the holding of public hearings, review by the city Planning and Design and Review boards and finally, consideration by City Council.

With all that now initiated by the action at the Nov. 17 City Council meeting, Willard doesn’t expect it to come before City Council for a vote before April.

Willard said he recommended this type of process be used in situations in which litigation is involved, because it is more open and transparent and guarantees the public has input on the new round of debates.

Willard said this is the same process the city is following with the CityWalk Towers development, proposed for the intersection of Roswell Road and Hammond Drive, which has been in litigation for some time. The process also previously was followed with a townhome development on Roberts Drive, which also had been in litigation.