The Sandy Springs City Council deferred two changes to the development code that would allow townhome infill developments and increase the allowed size of building signs while approving several more at its Nov. 20 meeting.

The proposed changes follow more the major six-month update and come out of the city’s planning staff’s experience with inconsistencies and inconveniences in the code. Changes approved by the council include allowing the renovation of drive-thrus, decreasing bicycle parking requirements for private schools and allowing maintenance access in neighborhood transition walls.

The motion was unanimous. Mayor Rusty Paul was absent from the meeting, so Councilmember John Paulson, who serves as mayor pro tempore, led the meeting.

The Planning Commission recommended denial of the cottage court and drive-thru proposals. It deferred the change that would increase allowed commercial building heights, so that proposal won’t be reviewed by council until December.

The building sign change would allow a 360-square-foot sign, double what is allowed now, one a building 10 stories or more. The building would also have to be visible from I-285 or Ga. 400 and abut the interstates.

The current restriction is a 180-square-foot sign on buildings four stories or taller.

Catherine Mercier-Baggett, the city’s planning and zoning manager, said she believed the proposal was in response to increased amount of corporations moving to Sandy Springs. There are not many buildings in the city that would qualify, she said.

Councilmember Tibby DeJulio pushed back on allowing the signs to appease corporations.

“For the last 13 years, we’ve been fighting to get rid of signs, and now all of the sudden we want to make signs bigger. This doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “The corporations don’t live in Sandy Springs, people live in Sandy Springs.”

Councilmember Jody Reichel said that keeping the smaller sign limit may deter some businesses from moving to the city.

“It’s not facing the neighborhoods, its facing the highway,” she said. 

The infill development proposal would allow townhomes in the city’s existing cottage court pattern, which allows for smaller houses centered around greenspace.

One resident spoke against the proposal during public comment, arguing the pattern would be too dense for the southern part of Sandy Springs, but could work well on the city’s north end.

Councilmember Chris Burnett said the developments can work well to provide affordable housing for the workforce and elderly, but said the proposal needs more review.

“I think we’re a little premature in this,” he said. “This would be a fairly large leap for us.”

The two proposals are set to return to the council at its second January meeting. For more information about the code changes, click here.