Lawrence D. Young (Larry)
Attorney, semi-retired (Ga. Registered Professional Civil Engineer but no longer practicing); Judge Municipal Court City of Sandy Springs – Retired(2005 – 2014)
Neighborhood: River Shore Estates for 26 years
Past Political Experience: This is my first run for elected office.
Other relevant experience: I am a proven volunteer for Sandy Springs since even before its founding some 12 years ago:
- Coached Peachtree Pres. Sponsored T-ball – 2002
- Coached Holy Innocents Church Youth Basketball league 5 years (2004 – 2008)
- Served on Fulton County Construction Advisory Committee – c. 2002
- Volunteer citizen member Fulton County “Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2025” Revisions – 2003
- River Valley Road sidewalk project steering committee – c. 2002
- Volunteer CSS Planning, Zoning and Comm. Dev. Task Force Co-chair for CSS (2003 – 2005)
- Trained first group of City Council candidates on the FC Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning procedures prior to elections – 2005
- President Rivershore Estate HOA – 8 years (plus 3 additional years as Director)
- President Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods – (2005 to 2013)
- Member CSS Charter Revision Commission – 2011
- Appointed one of two original founding judges CSS Municipal Court (appointed two terms – 2005 to 2014)
- Presided over Youth Leadership Sandy Springs moot court experience – 2012 & 2013
- Pro Bono legal counsel for neighbor in FC zoning dispute 2001 – North Springs MARTA focused mixed use project on Peachtree Dunwoody Road (settled – construction just proceeding in 2016)
- Pro Bono legal counsel for neighbors in FC storm-water detention failures in Arlington Cemetery (won at GA Supreme Court after 5 year effort)
- Pro Bono legal counsel for the Sandy Springs Environmental Project, Inc. non-profit status
- Active participant with the “Revive 285” community discussions
- Active supporter of City Center Performing Arts Center and redevelopment (City Springs – now under construction)
Q: Why are you running for this office?
A: Smart Growth is essential: Sustainable smart growth is essential for Sandy Springs and each of us, but
EXCESSIVE GROWTH seems to be creeping back into our community. Too many projects are being clear-cut. Supposedly “protected tress” are being sold for ransom and destroyed. I want to see Sandy Springs grow in a smart way. Good projects can happen with good design, proper planning and timely guidance from the City Council and the Planning Department. But just any project won’t do. Our City government must act to balance the financial power of commercial interests and the rights and interests of our citizens. As your councilman I will do all I can to influence our inevitable growth with the goal of achieving the greatest balance of the landowner’s rights and our citizen’s quality of life. When we lose tree canopy, cover the ground with impervious surface and regrade lots that increases the amount and speed up run-off, we all suffer – and some of us get flooded.
Excessive Re-development Density: Growth is inevitable and is going to happen. Landowners have a right to use their property – to a point. To preserve what Sandy Springs has as we grow, it is essential that we manage that growth in a smart way and protect our neighborhoods from excessive density. We have a Comprehensive Land Use Plan that I helped create before the city existed and that focuses that growth at selected commercial nodes. It expects reasonable transition between commercial areas and residential areas – if we stick to it.
We are creating a terrific “down town” area that we have never had. Some higher density in that area makes sense and is vital to keeping the downtown area vibrant and healthy. However, I have become increasingly concerned with the excessive density we are seeing in our neighborhoods. New subdivisions are being constructed inside existing subdivisions, overly packed density is happening only to maximize the developer’s profit at the cost of lost tree canopy and excessive storm-water runoff. I understand the motivation, but is that fair to the rest of us?
Corporate “Incentives” or Just Bribes: We have been “incenting” companies to locate in our community, even as the state legislature destroys much of the tax revenues they would otherwise bring using things like ad valorem exclusions and rebated impact fees. To a great degree, this just puts the financial burden of their arrival on all existing Sandy Springs residents. Does that make sense? How often do the incented companies leave before they can repay this subsidy? Do we even know?
Storm-water Management: More effort must be given to reduce the excessive storm-water runoff we see too often with new and redeveloped areas. We must use more innovative approaches to further reduce the value taken from our homes from excessive runoff from new construction and unplanned overdevelopment of the past. The City has been making some progress on this over the last few years.
Still More Traffic: The siting of Suntrust Stadium at our western door on what has to be the worst possible location in Metro Atlanta for traffic, with no existing or funded transit access, may be the dumbest decision of this decade. The currently crammed surface streets that will only get worse on game days will affect our District more than any other in Sandy Springs. We must work to expand transit as soon as possible. We are 30 years behind where we could have been with more forward looking leadership in the Atlanta suburbs. We must get started now to provide viable alternatives to individual cars!
Billboards: I must admit that I despise billboards. They are a visual blight in Georgia and now also our community. If elected, I will do all I can to minimize the encroachment of more billboards into our city.
Q: Why should the voters choose you?
The voters should choose me as I am completely independent and am the most qualified person for the job to be done because I am:
- an independent voice with no personal financial interest in growth in the City beyond that of other homeowners;
- uniquely qualified as a civil engineer with considerable construction experience, and now a lawyer with experience in environmental issues and years of experience with the struggles over City zoning and growth issues;
- a proven defender of neighborhood protection by my past pro bono legal services representing neighbors and not development interests;
- a proven advocate for neighborhoods by my years of volunteer service for Sandy Springs, even before it was a City, and as HOA President (8 years +) and President of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods (8 years +);
- a founder of the City as Co-chair of the Zoning and Community Development Task Force;
- self-funding my campaign and accepting no monetary donations from anyone;
- a small business owner for 19 years;
- a supporter of public education as my wife and I were trained in public schools and my son graduated from the IB program at Riverwood International Charter School;
- a supporter of our environmental quality with particular training in environmental regulation;
- a supporter of City Springs Performing Arts Center from the beginning; and finally I am
- a semi-retired attorney, and I will have less distractions from day to day business with no risk of influence over my business success from any person or entity in the city
Q: If elected, what’s the first thing you want to accomplish in office?
A: The first thing I want to accomplish is to restore a greater balance between commercial development interest and our neighborhoods that take the brunt of the impacts from greater traffic, noise, and foul air from that traffic. Smart development and growth is necessary to the health of the community, but bad or excessive development only adds to our local problems. I want to find a way to retain more of the affordable housing we are currently losing from overbuilding.
I believe that incentives paid to businesses is an inappropriate use of taxpayer revenues, is wrong and should be avoided if at all possible. Unfortunately, there has been a race to the bottom as other local jurisdictions, like the City of Atlanta and others, are more than willing to entice our local businesses into their cities. The move of the Porche headquarters to the airport, and more recently the Equifax relocation that is approaching, are fresh examples. The payment of additional “incentives” to Mercedes-Benz after the State had already “greased that wheel” is perplexing to me and seems wasteful.
Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the district you seek to represent?
A: Possibly the biggest problem facing District 3 is the loss of affordable housing from the destruction of our smaller housing stock, and the associated loss of tree cover with steeper lots that worsen storm-water runoff from the massive “McMansion” replacements. This affects access to our schools by a cross-section of the community and conflicts with the Charter goals for Riverwood Charter High School.
Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the city?
A: I think clearly the greatest issue facing the City is the ever increasing traffic that chokes our streets and wastes our time. The new Braves Stadium will affect our district more than most because of our proximity to that venue. The recent closure at Mt. Vernon and Sandy Springs Circle for construction has caused an outpouring of frustration from our district. The construction of the new 285 Riverside interchange round-abouts is also causing concerns that they will only dump even more traffic on Riverside Drive. This interchange has always been a thorn in the side of the community during afternoon drive time.
The added capacity that will come with the new 400 interchange in FIVE years will help for a while. Unfortunately unless we can provide alternatives like transit in dedicated lanes that are not stopped by every little fender-bender, we will only fill that capacity and return to the same problems this single-minded approach has produced before. How can we get people out of their cars when they have no real alternatives. Transit must be added if we ever hope to break out of this spiral of “build and fill” we keep repeating for our roads.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to these questions. If you want to know more about my positions on other topics, please visit my website at www.young4smartgrowth.com .