Sandy Springs City Council voted 5-1 at its July 16 meeting to approve zoning for the Sandy Springs Gateway project near Chastain Park.

Developer Hudson Hooks with JLB Partners sat in the front row at the July 16 Sandy Springs City Council meeting, squirming in his seat as the council made last minute tweaks to a project months in the making.

City Council made adjustments limiting the exterior height of his project at Roswell Road and Windsor Parkway and placing restrictions on which roads truck drivers could use for hauling equipment to the job site.

City Council members looked over at Hooks and he stuck a thumb in the air. After nearly three hours of debate, City Council voted 5-1 to approve zoning for the project, known as the Sandy Springs Gateway, with City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny being the only “no” vote.

In addition to the approval of the zoning council also approved a plan for an intersection improvement across the street from the Gateway, voting to spend $3.7 million to realign the intersection of Roswell Road and Windsor Parkway.

Because of the project’s proximity to Atlanta’s Buckhead community, residents of the affected neighborhoods have been vocal with their concerns about increased traffic.

North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain spoke on their behalf.

“People have a terrible time getting out to the world- they can get out through Windsor Parkway or Roswell Road,” Certain said. “This does nothing for them. In fact, it makes their lives much worse.”

When the council took a much-needed break following the vote, McEnerny walked over to Hooks and shook his hand.

While the development itself has run into opposition from neighbors worrying about traffic and density, Hooks received positive reviews for his outreach from both sides of the debate.

Hooks said he wanted to get started “as soon as possible,” hopefully by the end of the year.

“I’m elated to be finished,” he said.

City Council members defended the project, saying it will be good for the city’s economy and remove a set of apartments – Chastain and Versailles – that are rundown.

City Councilman Gabriel Sterling said the deal the council approved was better than the one the developers initially presented. The project will consist of 630 apartment units, reduced from 700 the developers initially proposed. The development will also include office and retail space.

“The original plan they came in with we all said hell no and go back to the drawing board,” Sterling said. “The public’s not always going to see every bad deal that comes to us.”

McEnerny, the only no vote, said the scale of the project was contrary to the city’s comprehensive plan.

“It is just too dense,” she said.

The council had a busy night for rezoning applications. In addition to the JLB project, City Council also:

–          Voted 5-1 to approve a development at 6558 Roswell Road, a redevelopment of a 259 unit apartment complex by Cortland Development. McEnerny was the one “no” vote.

–          Voted 6-0 to approve zoning for six single family homes located at 4040 and 4100 Spalding Dr.

–          Voted 6-0 to approve zoning for two single family homes at 211 Mount Vernon Highway.

–          Voted 6-0 to approve zoning for two single family homes at 514 Mount Vernon Highway.

–          Voted 5-0 to rezone 125 Glenridge Point to mixed use, a project of South City Partners, LLC. Councilman Tibby DeJulio abstained due to a conflict of interest.