The transformative ideas brewing in Sandy Springs’ “Next Ten” planning process were met with interest and curiosity by at least 70 residents who attended the latest community workshop, held Jan. 27 at the Sherwood Event Hall on Roswell Road.

Residents talk with consultant Lee Sobel of RCLCO about Sandy Springs' market and demographics at the "Next Ten" workshop Jan. 27 at Sherwood Event Hall. (Photo John Ruch)

Residents talk with consultant Lee Sobel of RCLCO (left) about Sandy Springs’ market and demographics at the “Next Ten” workshop Jan. 27 at Sherwood Event Hall. (Photo John Ruch)

“It’s more than just a land-use plan. It’s a vision for the community,” said Mayor Rusty Paul, introducing a presentation on the work thus far for the Next Ten—combining a revision of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, a rewrite of its zoning code, and detailed plans for certain areas.

The sheer scope of the vision—from mixed-use “nodes” along a new tree-lined “Roswell Boulevard” to a kind of Central Park for Perimeter Center—appeared to engage the crowd but also keep it quietly thoughtful.

A presentation by lead planning consultant firm Rhodeside & Harwell drew light applause. And many residents visited various “stations” around the room to view detailed plans, talk with planners, and leave notes or stickers calling for mixed-use redevelopment, dog parks and better pedestrian connections, among other ideas.

High Point resident Dan DiLuzio, who also works in Sandy Springs, said his only concern with the plans so far is that some of it might not happen.

“It really looks good. Everything is top-notch,” DiLuzio said. “I’m just afraid, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it’s [going to face] the ‘not in my back yard’ contingent.”

“It’s great to see Sandy Springs in a position that it can do this [planning],” he added.

Kristen Madison was trying to figure out what such changes might mean for her family business, the FASTSIGNS shop on the downtown stretch of Roswell Road.

“I think it’s pretty ambitious,” Madison said, adding she likes the city’s focus on traffic and aesthetics. “We’re trying to determine if our business will be properly placed in a mixed-use environment….Now it’s like, ‘Where do I fit in?’”

The Next Ten process is only about halfway through its projected timeline, with entire plans for the Powers Ferry Landing and MARTA station areas yet to be presented, and the zoning code rewrite just beginning. Mayor Paul emphasized that community input remains key in this rough-draft phase.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul (left) discusses Perimeter Center plans at the "Next Ten" workshop Jan. 27 at Sherwood Event Hall. (Photo John Ruch)

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul (left) discusses Perimeter Center plans at the “Next Ten” workshop Jan. 27 at Sherwood Event Hall. (Photo John Ruch)

“I know what you’re thinking—‘The city’s already decided to do this,’” the mayor said, explaining that all of the ideas are still flexible. “This is just to get the thought processes going in the community…I see the wheels turning. We’ve succeeded in doing what we wanted to do—get you thinking.”

Now it’s time for feedback, Paul said. For ways to give that feedback, see the planning process site at thenext10.org.

Residents use stickers to weigh in on planning preferences at the Jan. 27 "Next Ten" workshop. (Photo John Ruch)

Residents use stickers to weigh in on planning preferences at the Jan. 27 “Next Ten” workshop. (Photo John Ruch)

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