To the editor:
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Back in the 1920s and 1930s, esteemed conservationist and environmentalist Aldo Leopold was advocating for a common-sense management of wildlife communities and the subsequent relationship of man to the natural world; his beliefs are as relevant today as they were before.
In the present, mass land development creeps beyond the cities’ limits and results in fragmented areas. When development occurs without measured consideration of infrastructure capacities, transportation options and quality of life considerations, damage is caused, resulting in loss of character and use of the area.
JLB Partners and Core Property Development has a proposal known as The Gateway (referred to as SSG) in the works; the plan removes two aging apartment complexes near the intersections of Roswell Road, Wieuca Road and Windsor Parkway. In the proposal’s current revised version, the plan is to replace 436 units with 700 on its 21.3 acre site, to increase the building’s height from two stories to six stories, to create 1,484 parking spaces including two parking decks, and to have 90,000 square feet of commercial/retail and 30,000 square feet of offices.
Inherent to this proposal, traffic will significantly increase in the affected area. According to traffic studies, SSG will generate 8,900 to 10,700 daily vehicular trips on nearby streets. Roswell Road, Windsor Parkway and Wieuca Roads are already clogged. Studies indicate a 22.5 percent increase on Roswell Road at West Wieuca.
To make traffic matters worse, the plan results in the proposed realignment of Windsor Parkway at Roswell into a possible five-lane intersection at a cost of over $4.4 million, benefiting JLB’s apartment community entrance in order to have a traffic light. The price tag for Windsor Parkway would then have to be picked up by taxpayer money.
Notwithstanding the increased traffic and probable property value diminishment to single-family homes in the surrounding neighborhoods, a worse effect is the impact to the suburban character of the area and the likelihood for future similar development.
City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny has expressed opinions on the proposal saying that residents want a “balanced” development that will be a gateway from Atlanta into Sandy Springs. She said the current proposal doesn’t come close to achieving harmony with the neighborhoods.
“It’s going to require millions of public sector improvements offsite to allow that kind of density,” she said. “It’s way over the top.”
At this very important juncture, we should be thinking about what kind of vision we would like to see for the Roswell Road corridor. Land-use planning should make areas more beneficial, more attractive, less congested and more respectful of available land.
Leopold remains a voice for land use. Are we to heed Leopold’s comments regarding living in a community that we respect and love or are we to be driven by developers’ needs for land as a commodity. Sandy Springs has a suburban character. My preference is for a community of homes, apartments, retail and commercial uses that respect the character of the area in which we live. . . not a hodgepodge of overly dense developments.