An illustration of the apartments proposed at Johnson Ferry Road and Old Johnson Ferry Road on Pill Hill, on the Brookhaven-Sandy Springs border.
An illustration of the apartments proposed at Johnson Ferry Road and Old Johnson Ferry Road on Pill Hill, on the Brookhaven-Sandy Springs border.

The developer behind a Pill Hill apartment plan that sparked a Brookhaven-Sandy Springs border clash was given another month to talk with residents by the Sandy Springs Planning Commission on Aug. 20.

Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams had publicly complained of lack of notice about the project, which is in Sandy Springs but very near her city’s border. Williams, joined by many residents, appeared in person before the Planning Commission to call for a deferral.

“I come here tonight in the spirit of neighbors just trying to be good neighbors,” said Williams, who also called for a full Pill Hill master plan and traffic study. “Our traffic is your traffic. Your traffic is our traffic.”

North American Properties Atlanta is proposing a 305-unit apartment building with 10,000 square feet of medical offices at the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Old Johnson Ferry Road. The largely wooded 3.5-acre property is adjacent to its current owner, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. The plan includes a “pocket park” on the corner.

Richard Munger, a North American Properties partner and a Sandy Springs resident, said he’s been meeting with residents since June, but agreed to a deferral “as a courtesy to our neighbors in Brookhaven.”

The project requires rezoning to mixed-use and a variance to build up to 70 feet high. Traffic impacts are the major local concern, though Munger claimed to be working with the Pill Hill hospitals on getting employees to live there in a “textbook example of live-work [development] near mass transit.”

Residents from both cities spoke, largely in opposition. They included Brookhaven’s Alton Conway, who said he distributed 600 flyers protesting the project. He said such dense construction should be built around the Medical Center MARTA Station.

A representative of the Johnson Ferry Park Townhomes across the street said residents there have worked out a compromise with North American Properties on traffic impacts and are likely to support the plan, but joined the deferral request.

“It sounds like most of your homework will be done on the Brookhaven side of the world,” Planning Commision Chair Lee Duncan told Munger after the commission approved the deferral.

Williams and Brookhaven City Councilwoman Linley Jones met earlier this week with Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul about their local-input concerns regarding the project. Williams and Paul both said in later interviews that the meeting went well, though Paul was unable to discuss specifics of the plan with the rezoning pending.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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