Sandy Springs has tightened the rules on when developers must bury electric lines and other utilities. Now more types of developments will have to put utilities underground.

City officials have said they were surprised when developer Ashton Woods didn’t sink some power lines as part of its new Aria development on Glenridge Drive. Mike Busher, a senior vice president at Ashton Woods, has said he was unaware of the situation.

However, the conversation led to some rule changes approved at the April 18 City Council meeting.

Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert said that the rules were always clear that new subdivisions must have buried utilities. However, there were varying interpretations on whether that applied to existing utility lines that were being relocated. And councilmembers pushed for similar requirements for large developments that aren’t subdivisions.

Under the updated rules, 1) subdivision developers must bury any existing overhead utility lines running along the property’s edge, and must bury any utilities that are moved due to a roadway change for the project; and 2) any new commercial development of 20,000 square feet or large must bury new or existing utilities. New subdivisions must also bury their new utilities as always required.

The burying requirement could be appealed to the Board of Appeals if it is a hardship, Tolbert said.

The requirement applies to only to utilities that directly service a building, not to massive transmission lines like those running on tall metal poles along Roswell Road.

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