A developer is reconsidering a plan to replace five Glenridge Drive houses with 20 new ones after the Sandy Springs City Council made clear its concerns about the project’s density.

At its Dec. 20 meeting, the council gave a two-month deferral to Betancourt Communities to see if the project can be redesign closer to city staff’s suggestion of 17 new houses.

The conceptual plan of Betancourt Communities’ 20-home plan for Glenridge Drive, from a city filing.

The proposal for 6045-6105 Glenridge, just south of Glenairy Drive, has been reworked through neighborhood meetings to increase the screening from neighbors. City staff recommended reducing the project’s size and configuration, with 11 houses fronting on Glenridge and six in the rear to provide a lower-density transition to smaller neighboring houses.

Betancourt president Steve Ficarra said the buyout deals for the existing houses was based on a 20-house plan. A smaller project might not be feasible, he said, and in any case would mean renegotiating those buyout deals. He said he just wants to be treated equally with higher-density projects already existing nearby.

However, councilmembers do not like some of those nearby projects anyway. Mary Sanford, a local resident who organized neighborhood meetings with Ficarra, said that existing projects that are too dense “don’t make it right” to continue the pattern.

Richard Darby, a Spalding Drive resident, noted approvals of other high-density projects elsewhere in the city as well, such as Ashton Woods’ massive project on the former historic Glenridge Hall estate that will also be home to Mercedes-Benz USA’s new headquarters. He said the city appears to favor “well-heeled corporations and McMansion owners” over other residential owners looking to sell.

The project has more than 50 letters of support, but Rhonda Smith of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods said that only three of those came from nearby residents, with many written by other real estate developers and investors.

Sanford and Ficarra both said they had worked productively together despite disagreements, so the council held hopes that an agreement can be reached during the deferral period.

John Ruch

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