Sandy Springs added another ordinance in its fight against illegal party houses, targeting the owners of any residence used for commercial events with a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Earlier this year, the City Council approved a change in its zoning ordinances that prohibits any commercial event in residential neighborhoods. Neighbors complained about events with hundreds of people in attendance and cars lining residential streets at a home on Northside Drive on May 17 and on May 31. Even after the ban on party houses in residential neighborhoods, police were called by neighbors to a home on Heards Ferry Road on July 24, where three people were arrested, including the homeowner.
“As you know, we’ve had an ongoing problem with these party houses where various problems exist from overcrowding, blocking streets, to illegal activities at these types of locations,” Deputy Chief Craig Chandler of the Sandy Springs Police Department told City Council.
He said this new ordinance will enable police to start criminal procedures against the people who own the “party houses.”
“I think this is a good way to go ahead and get these penalties there and to give the police the muscle they need to go ahead and enforce these policies and put an end to this … Sandy Springs is not a party neighborhood, it’s a family neighborhood,” said Councilmember Tibby DeJulio.
Councilmember Andy Bauman echoed DeJulio’s comments and told Chandler if the Police Department needs more tools to come back to council and ask.
City Attorney Dan Lee said the city has tried to balance commercial activity and some unsavory things that have happened at party house events. Some individuals have even purchased three homes worth $7 million at the same time.
“Their sole purpose is to rent them for events. And they shouldn’t be able to do that and not pay a price for carrying on such activities in residential neighborhoods,” Lee said.
Councilmember Jody Reichel asked if the city’s website included specific information on when homeowners need a permit to hold an event and what is allowed or not allowed.