Residents will get their first look at drafts of the city’s downtown master plan during the Nov. 6 City Council meeting.
The preliminary plans, developed by consultant Goody Clancy, are the result of months of planning based on input and debate among residents. There will be another input meeting at City Hall on Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. where residents can review the details based on input.
The City Council intends to adopt the plan by the end of the year.
Residents packed City Hall on Oct. 30 to discuss proposals to manage traffic around the city center.
Representatives from Goody Clancy and Kimley-Horn and Associates, another consultant, presented residents with suggestions for transportation improvements to go along with the broader master plan. The improvements could change the face of the area surrounding Roswell Road between Abernathy Road and I-285.
The consultants faced the difficult task of presenting a transportation plan for an area awash in traffic and beset on all sides with rush-hour gridlock.
The master plan would likely add around 2.5 million square feet of mixed-use development to downtown Sandy Springs, with about 75 percent of that development set aside for residential use.
The consultants said that the new construction should not increase traffic in the area. However, they concede that any vision for the city’s future will have to take into account the heavy traffic along Roswell Road and crowded stretches of Hammond Drive and Mount Vernon Highway.
“This plan is not a magic bullet for the traffic woes of Sandy Springs,” Jeffrey Smith of Kimley-Horn told residents at the meeting. “The regional traffic is not going away.”
The emphasis of the plan is on offering new “choices” for residents trying to traverse the congested region between Abernathy Road and I-285. These choices include new routes for drivers, more pedestrian-friendly streets and safe routes for bicyclists to navigate the area.
In addition to traffic relief, the hope is that more bicycl and pedestrian-friendly streets will attract a new generation of talented professionals to the area.
“For that younger generation,” Smith told residents, “they don’t want to have to get in their cars. They want to walk or ride their bikes to work.”
Citing the glut of driveways emptying onto Roswell Road, the consultants said that new developments throughout the area should rely, whenever possible, on shared or decked parking that will encourage shoppers to leave their cars parked as they make multiple shopping stops.
Additionally, new streets to the east and west of Roswell Road would run parallel to the chronically clogged thoroughfare, increasing access to businesses without inviting more traffic from commuters trying to reach Ga. 400 and I-285.
Eventually, the plan would create a street grid, breaking up sprawling shopping centers into smaller blocks about 400 feet in length.
These guidelines would take years to implement, with changes to land use ordinances, new road construction and shared parking structures replacing the current landscape only as existing retail centers are redeveloped.