The city of Sandy Springs has reversed a change to its draft land-use plan that would have permitted a controversial 28-unit townhome project to replace eight houses in the Glenridge Hammond neighborhood.
The city decided to keep the properties as a “Protected Neighborhood” rather than a higher-density designation in response to “strong community input,” said city spokesperson Sharon Kraun. The draft land-use plan, known as the Comprehensive Plan, is headed to a City Council vote Dec. 6.
It is unclear what impact the land-use reversal has on the townhome plan by Sandy Springs-based Monte Hewitt Homes. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Character Area map in the city’s current Comp Plan does not allow such higher-density replacement housing on the properties, which are bordered by Hilderbrand Drive and Johnson Ferry and Harleston roads. The first draft of the new Comp Plan, issued in July, had the properties remaining as a “Protected Neighborhood”—meaning a single-family home area.
In an unannounced change, the next draft in October switched those properties to the higher-density designation. Nearby residents learned of the change when Monte Hewitt Homes filed plans for the townhome project with documents that noted the new land-use plan would allow the project.
Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert said the land-use change was made partly due to the eight homeowners looking to sell out for redevelopment, and partly because the city thought a higher-density “transition” area works there.
At a Nov. 21 community meeting about the townhome plan, residents expressed strong opposition to the plan and to the underlying land-use change. Members of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods voiced concerns about land-use changes being made to suit a particular development.
The final draft of the Comp Plan, issued Dec. 2, reversed the land-use switch at the Hildebrand/Harleston site, though it retains a higher-density designation on two abutting commercial properties currently occupied by an auto parts dealer and a bank. The reversal also was made without announcement.
If approved by the council, the Comp Plan will undergo state review for a number of months before final city approval. It would then become the basis for a new city zoning code that is already in the early writing stages.