Two controversial proposals for storage facilities in Sandy Springs got very different receptions from the city Planning Commission Aug. 27. A facility proposed for Northwood Drive won recommendation for approval due to the unit supporting “positive” redevelopment, while another proposed for Roswell Road was recommended for denial for doing just the opposite.
The proposals will be brought to the City Council to vote on at a date to be determined, according to city spokesperson Sharon Kraun.
One proposal is for a three-story self-storage facility at 120 Northwood Drive, whose development would involve demolishing the current building and displacing several businesses, a church and three nonprofits. But the site also would provide a new city park and bring back the current nonprofit organizations.
“To me, this is so different than the [other] application,” said Lane Frostbaum, chair of the Planning Commission, at the meeting. He said it meets the goals of the city’s “Next Ten” land-use plan.
The developers originally had townhomes in their site plan, but removed them based on community input.
The plan now dedicates the 13,000-square-foot ground level of the building to the three nonprofits currently housed at the site: La Amistad, Los Ninos Primero and the satellite office for the Community Assistance Center, and “neighborhood-serving” retail for residents around the area, such as grocery stores, laundromats, etc.
The developers behind the project, Taylor/Theus, have previously claimed that the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to take the property for its future toll lanes project, which would cause the building to be demolished regardless. But GDOT Communications Director Natalie Dale says there are no solid plans for right of way for the toll lanes project yet and that the building likely could remain.
City staff recommended approval of the proposal because it furthers city goals, specifically to the mixed-use ambitions of the Next Ten Comprehensive Plan, a 10-year policy and planning document guiding land use and redevelopment.
Two residents spoke in support of the proposal, including Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods President Ronda Smith and CAC volunteer Cecilia Webster.
After hearing staff reports, comments from Woody Galloway, a zoning attorney representing the developer, and supporting residents, the commission also recommended approval of the proposal to the City Council.
“It is rare that a project checks as many boxes as this one does,” said Andy Porter, the commission’s vice chair. “You guys have done a great job.”
The other proposal heard at the meeting, a three-story self-storage facility in the north end of the city at 8040 Roswell Road, would replace the long-vacant Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range, which has been closed since 2016 due to an accidental fire.
City staff recommended denial because they do not see the proposal as promoting North End revitalization, as laid out in the land-use plan and a recent report from the city’s North End Revitalization Task Force.
Eleven residents spoke in opposition, including Smith, with the general consensus that the facility is not a positive development for the area and that the building will lower property values.
“Making a decision for the welfare of the citizens goes far beyond what’s legal,” a resident said. “It is really a violation of what the revitalization plan states.”
After hearing staff reports, comments from Carl Westmoreland, a zoning attorney representing the developer, and opposing residents, the commission also recommends denial of the proposal to the City Council.
“Considering this is not a mixed-use proposal, I do not see why we would do it,” commission member Dave Nickles said.