Sandy Springs will spend over $950,000 to bury utility lines underground for a streetscape project, and has begun eminent domain takings for right of way that could cost over $980,000 more.

The overall project is a $7 million redesign of Sandy Springs Circle between Hammond Drive and Mount Vernon Highway. It will convert four travel lanes to two, plus a turn lane and on-street parking, and add sidewalks and a multiuse path. Stalled for a while after a 2016 controversy about lack of public input, the project got redesigned and is back on track.

The city prefers to put utility wires underground for aesthetics and to reduce accidental power outages. For this project, AT&T and Georgia Power Co. have agreed to bury their lines in a jointly used trench on the west side of the street, according to Marty Martin, the city’s capital improvement programs manager.

The City Council agreed Feb. 6 to reimburse the two companies a total of $950,795.72 for the work, which could be carried out this summer.

The council also approved eminent domain filings to take right of way property at four addresses. Mayor Rusty Paul and some councilmembers emphasized the filings are just a tactic. Paul said the city “will continue to negotiate in good faith” with property owners to buy the right of way, which collectively could cost up to $982,400 if the city’s offers are accepted. Officials estimated in 2016 that right of way acquisition for the entire project could cost $2.8 million to $3 million.

City Attorney Dan Lee said the eminent domain filings were largely for technical reasons. The project is partly funded with federal money through the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the right of way must be in city hands, at least on paper, by Feb. 20, Lee said. He said some of the parcels have complex ownership, “brownfield” issues or hard-to-locate finance companies. Filing for eminent domain clarifies and simplifies the city’s assertion of ownership, he said.

The addresses and the city’s purchase offers for their right of way are:

135 Mount Vernon Highway (Randy Beavers insurance agency office), $358,800

227 Sandy Springs Circle (City Walk shopping center): $37,600

6010 Sandy Springs Circle (Centre Court shopping center): $305,600

6025 Sandy Springs Circle (Sandy Springs Place shopping center): $280,400

City Councilmember Chris Burnett is market president at the Bank of Sandy Springs, located in the Centre Court shopping center. He recused himself from the specific vote about that right of way taking due to his landlord’s involvement. Burnett said he has no direct financial interest in the matter, but that he thought it “prudent” to recuse himself anyway.

John Ruch

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

11 replies on “City to pay for buried utilities, seek eminent domain for Sandy Springs Circle project”

  1. This is the dumbest project on the face of the planet. Choking SS Circle is a terrible idea, just reference their other great ideas now causing all kinds of traffic issues on SS Cir between Mt Vernon Highway and Johnson Ferry and the narrowing of Johnson Ferry between SS Cir and Roswell Rd.

  2. Build sports facilities – indoor multipurpose courts, swim pool, and athletic fields. You can have a swim team and swim therapy classes and rehab classes, volleyball and basketball and soccer, lacrosse, football.

  3. Our city is clogged with traffic now and the building of so many new apartment complexes will only make matters worse, especially along Roswell Road. The “improvements” have created and will create more traffic problems along SS Circle which is a needed alternative to Roswell Road. Better use of the money would be to follow Dan’s and T’s suggestions.

  4. Who benefits? Someone please explain what is in this for the residents of Sandy Springs. The answer is pretty straight forward and obvious: A small group of property owners will benefit greatly. That’s it. The rest of us get nothing. This is another example of government gone wild. Spending our tax dollars in a way that makes Sandy Spring s less attractive for those that live here. They are spending our tax dollars to chase us off……….

    1. Another example of SS Council excess. Leave Sandy Springs Circle alone. It’s perfectly fine as it is currently, with the exception of un-needed excess apartments around City Hall to further congest traffick in Sandy Springs. Spend the money on something we need. Also, converting power lines is insane. In the future we should have buried lines. Let’s not waste money .

  5. Actually “choking” SS Circle is a good way to encourage a walkable downtown and discourage cut through commuters who use SSC as a way to get to Johnson Ferry and points West.
    This is the same reason that Hammond East of Roswell Road should never be widened beyond two lanes.
    There will soon be 2-3000 people living in the residential developments in City Center. The intent is to get people out of their cars and walking. Sidewalks are badly needed in this area.
    Also, SS Circle today is driven at high speeds and needs to be changed for safety reasons.

  6. Would like to see the actual traffic engineers’ analysis. Will this shift one whole lane of traffic over to Roswell Road? We can foresee what that would do.

    Also, I have yet to see much citizen support of the frantic building of multiresidential projects which seem to be everywhere the eye can see. The resulting continued jamming of traffic seems endless.This lack of interest by
    those in charge in improving traffic flow seems relevant to the SS Circle project as well as other critical roadways. e.g., when will Abernathy Road finally become totally impassable at any time of day?

  7. I do not know what the actual answer is to these problems. But, if you pay attention to All major arteries in the city, the traffic problems are due to pass through traffic. Commuters using all these streets to pass through our city. This is why a walkable environment is not the answer, the drive thru commuters will still be there, the streets will just be less able to hold it. The roundabout on Riverside at I-285 is a total disaster. Sandy Springs Circle was already a disaster, and is now worse. I am not sure the city can stand many more traffic projects. The performing arts center looks to be a fantastic addition to the city, but not where it is located. A choke hold has been placed in the middle of a grid locked area during certain times of day. Do the people designing these projects ever visit Sandy Springs to see the current problems and the aftermath of the designs they create.

Comments are closed.