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Posted by on June 21, 2013.

Road project clouds gateway development

JLB Partners developers Hudson Hooks, brown suit, and Scott Schlosser, black suit, hold up a concept drawing for the Sandy Springs Gateway project during the June 20 Planning Commission Meeting. The Planning Commission, left, voted to approve zoning for the project.

JLB Partners developers Hudson Hooks, brown suit, and Scott Schlosser, black suit, hold up a concept drawing for the Sandy Springs Gateway project during the June 20 Planning Commission Meeting. The Planning Commission, left, voted to approve zoning for the project.

Sandy Springs Planning Commission on June 20 approved zoning for a gateway development near Atlanta’s Chastain Park, but there’s still uncertainty about the massive intersection realignment that the project requires.

It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario. If City Council approves the gateway at its July meeting, it will mean the city needs to realign Windsor Parkway and Roswell Road. But with some details still outstanding, the uncertainty makes the developer, JLB Partners, wary of moving forward.

The realignment of Windsor Parkway and Roswell Road will cost millions and will be funded entirely by Sandy Springs taxpayers. Its estimated cost is $3.7 million to $5.7 million and there are three options being considered.

The gateway development will be located at the intersection of Roswell and Wieuca roads. Traffic from the project will affect both Sandy Springs and Atlanta’s Buckhead Community. The plan pushed by developer JLB Partners called for 700 units, but during the June 20 meeting, the developer announced the plan will be reduced to 630 units.

Planning Commission Chairman Lee Duncan said during the June 20 meeting that he was having trouble separating the realignment project from the zoning. The Planning Commission’s sole job is making zoning recommendations to City Council. Duncan asked Sandy Springs Community Development Director Angela Parker whether the commission should consider Windsor Parkway when making its decision.

“We’re being asked to rezone a pretty intense piece of property here,” Duncan said.

Parker said the city is fast-tracking the realignment project.

“The city is committed to making this project happen quickly,” Parker said.  “I think what’s before you is the zoning, but from the standpoint of executing, that project is a high priority with the city.”

The Planning Commission approved the project, while recommending the city allow only one business with a drive-through and prohibit construction traffic from using Roswell Road.

Residents and the developer found common ground on one key point: both wish there was more certainty surrounding the Windsor Parkway realignment project.

Several residents of nearby neighborhoods mentioned the realignment, project, along with comments critical of the project’s height and density.

“We see the issue related to infrastructure is inextricably linked,” Cherokee Park resident Ron Comacho said.

Hudson Hooks with JLB said the unanswered questions are affecting his plans as well.

“We’re going to need to find out pretty quickly a timeline on when that road moves,” he said.

Sandy Springs staff members haven’t made a final determination about which of the three plans is best, and there’s no official timeline for completion.

The road realignment became a factor after the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority issued its ruling on the mixed-use gateway development.  Due to its size, GRTA assessed the project as a development of regional impact.

There’s not much dispute about the need for the road improvement itself. The city reported that there were 103 accidents there from 2009 to 2013. The road would be realigned to a 90 degree angle. The options have the potential to impact two existing businesses: a funeral home or a Popeye’s fast food restaurant.

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