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Posted by on March 28, 2012.

Sandy Springs’ downtown planning firm will consider city hall options

Dist. 3 Councilman Chip Collins

The Sandy Springs City Council at its annual retreat on Tuesday, March 27, met with the firm hired to draw the blueprint for the city’s downtown.

Council members quickly made clear they don’t all agree on where a future city hall will go.

The firm, Boston-based Goody Clancy, told council members nothing has been decided. Council members said they would be the firm’s sole advisory committee, guiding planners toward their final conclusions.

Councilman Chip Collins told David Dixon, the firm’s principal in charge of planning and urban design, that not all council members think the city should build a city hall at property it owns at 235 Johnson Ferry Road. Mayor Eva Galambos supports building a city hall at the site, which could require the city to use eminent domain to buy the property around what was once a Target store. Some property owners say they aren’t interested in selling their parcels to the city.

“I want to make sure that’s part of his concept, that we still are not completely decided,” Collins told Dixon.

The Main Street Alliance, made up of the owners of more than 50 parcels of commercial property in the downtown Sandy Springs,  recently told the city its members favor turning the site at Johnson Ferry into a park.

Dixon said the disagreement among the council members is something he discussed with City Manager John McDonough.

When a reporter asked him how he would work with a council that’s divided on the city hall issue, Dixon said he would listen to all opinions.

“What we would do is start with an open mind,” he said. “We’d get as much data as we can and share it with everybody.”

He said a city hall is a planning project in its own right, and said he’d need to know more about the council’s feelings before the firm can make a final recommendation.

“We have to understand where they’re coming from,” Dixon said.

Goody Clancy will host its first community meeting about the city’s downtown plans on May 8.

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