To the Editor:
The proposed 77-acre Ashton Woods / Mercedes-Benz USA project is inconsistent with the character of Sandy Springs, would harm the city’s environment and natural resources, would irreparably damage many neighborhoods, would destroy a wildlife habitat, and would further over-burden Sandy Springs’s already over-burdened infrastructure.
Moreover, the 48-acre portion of the proposed site north of Abernathy Road is a designated Conservation Area in the Sandy Springs Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This land is meant to be left in its natural state for conservation and environmental protection, and used only for passive recreation and park space. To my knowledge, no Sandy Springs Conservation Area has ever been developed.
On July 16, the Sandy Springs Planning Commission approved the destruction of this Conservation Area in order to accommodate the residential developer Ashton Woods, and Mercedes-Benz USA. These proceedings highlighted a cozy relationship among Ashton-Woods, Mercedes-Benz, and the Planning Commission, the result being an astounding betrayal of the citizens of Sandy Springs by the Planning Commission.
The city’s agreed-upon mandate, as documented in its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, is to preserve its neighborhoods, protect its natural resources, minimize vehicular traffic, maximize tree cover and control development. Facilitating the destruction of one of the city’s few Conservation Areas is a shameful disregard for this mandate by the Sandy Springs Planning Commission.
Kevin L. Best
To the editor:
I am writing with much concern about the city management and community engagement around zoning and development issues in Sandy Springs — in particular, the three developments associated with the Mercedes-Benz complex.
There has been shameful disregard on the part of the city to engage those who will be most impacted by this development in terms of putting forward viable solutions for excessive traffic, increased housing density, environmental impact, infrastructure improvements, or building construction inconvenience.
In fact, the current view is that the city attempted to do this specifically without engaging constituents until there was no choice. This disregard leads voters to assume the city has no appetite for a win-win solution with the community.
Because of the lack of sophistication with engaging the impacted community, there is much talk about rejoining the city of Atlanta and voting out all city officials. I am not certain the legal parameters around this, but just the simple fact it is being debated is problematic of the divide between city officials and the community.
There seems to be fundamental ignorance on a number of cultural components:
–The impact on traffic in the area will be substantial because the metropolitan Atlanta area, relative to other cities in America, is a “commuter city” despite attempts by urban planners to reverse it.
–The large-scale introduction of apartments will create a transient community very different from invested home owners with incentive to grow their investment by creating a better community and improving property.
— if Mercedes-Benz is held accountable for alienating the community due to perceived blatant disregard for our beautiful city, they are likely to face backlash which I am certain they do not want associated with their well regarded and monetarily valuable brand.