The likely final draft of Sandy Springs’ new zoning code has been posted in advance of an Aug. 15 City Council vote where it is expected to be adopted.

The biggest change in this draft: It once again removes almost all existing “conditions” on previous rezonings that limit redevelopment to suit neighborhood demands.

Another change: The number of zoning categories in which adult businesses, such as strip clubs, are allowed has been expanded further, from six to seven. And some contentious items that haven’t had significant change: a new policy mandating affordable housing in large multi-family residential projects, and a ban on a new gas station opening within a half-mile of an existing gas station.

The draft Development Code, as it is formally called, and the latest draft of the zoning map can be viewed on the city’s “Next Ten” planning process website at

Wiping out conditions

Conditions are limits or improvements that a developer agrees to in exchange for rezoning a property, often with neighborhood input. Conditions can be nearly anything, from new roads to landscaping, building heights and landscape buffers.

With many rezonings dating back to before the city’s 2005 incorporation, conditions can be hard to apply years later, officials say, and the new code aims to do without them as much as possible. City planning officials want to wipe out most existing conditions, except for green space easements, traffic-related mitigations for large-scale developments, and landscape buffers and setbacks.

But residents who have won other types of conditions want to keep them, as do the attorneys representing some of them. The city Planning Commission previously recommended the preservation of all existing conditions, and that was written into a previous draft.

It appears the City Council decided to side with its planning staff, as the latest draft again wipes out all existing conditions except for those particular green space, traffic and buffer types.

Adult businesses

For almost its entire existence, the city has been embroiled in various lawsuits attempting to limit the location and operation of strip clubs and adult bookstores. The original draft of the new zoning code restricted such businesses to industrial areas, which in practice means only one small spot in the city’s north end.

After getting advice from its attorneys, however, the city has continually expanded the places adult businesses will be allowed to operate. Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert has said the legal advice was to basically let such businesses operate where they exist today.

A previous draft expanded adult businesses as a limited use to six commercial and industrial zones. The latest draft adds a seventh zone: Perimeter Medical, a new category that, besides medical uses, also includes a wide range of commercial uses.

John Ruch

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

4 replies on “Sandy Springs posts final zoning code draft before vote”

  1. I don’t understand the reasoning behind expanding the areas adult businesses can operate. Allow the current locations seems to be more than adequate. I’d prefer to further restrictions but understand the legal challenges and costs of such a move.

  2. It appears that there is already “up zoning” or parcels from residential to commercial taking place. Property ID 17 008800080043 – the former Marshall’s on Roswell Road, and two residential lots inside Mount Vernon Woods, are now one commercial lot which substantially intrudes in our neighborhood.

    As an immediately adjacent neighbor I only learned of this after the fact when I stumbled over a map online. What happened to the requirement to notify neighbors?

    This MVW area was once considered to be an area to be preserved, but I guess that only lasts until bigger money wants the land?

  3. I don’t understand how/why the county continues to overlook the Utility Easements as viable green space. The Reporter touched on the issue back in May. However, looking at the maps, the City continues to generalize these area as mixed-use residential. I hope the next next city council members will take the issue up with more passion. Part of me thinks I should just run for District 2 to make sure it gets down.

    Morgan Falls Easement:,+GA/@33.9675492,-84.3573228,1010m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x88f50c1dc0a2c231:0xa9e9faf26702de1d!8m2!3d33.9304352!4d-84.3733147

    Or what I’ll call the Dalrymple Trial which could connect to Morgan Falls park or Roswell Rd.,+GA/@33.9547666,-84.3724399,712m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x88f50c1dc0a2c231:0xa9e9faf26702de1d!8m2!3d33.9304352!4d-84.3733147

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