The Sandy Springs City Council has appointed two new members to the North End Advisory Committee and Mayor Rusty Paul says he hopes to add at least one more member.

The new members are Derek Lawrie and Sean O’Keefe. Lawrie is a resident of the North End area. O’Keefe is the owner of the Pontoon Brewing Company in the Northridge Business Park at 8601 Dunwoody Place.

“I want to assist in making Sandy Springs a destination spot,” O’Keefe said in a written statement. “I think the development of the North End side is critical considering the proximity to the Chattahoochee River and all the people that live up here.”

Lawrie could not be reached for comment.

The committee is a 13-member board appointed by Paul and approved by the council to advise and review the forthcoming redevelopment conceptual plans with a consultant that has been hired to develop designs for four shopping centers in the North End.

The committee and the consultant will also be exploring possibilities of a “North End Revitalization Zone,” which Paul said will be created to pursue incentives in the area.

City Councilmember Steve Soteres, who represents part of the North End and is a committee member, said Lawrie and O’Keefe were original invitees on the committee.

“These two individuals we originally asked to be on it,” Soteres said at a Jan. 21 meeting where the additions were approved. “But they had not responded by the time of the first resolution.”

The members of the committee will represent the stakeholders in the North End, Paul said at a Jan. 7 council meeting where the original board was approved.

“They’re there to provide oversight [and] advice, and they represent stakeholders,” Paul said. “They bring a wide variety of viewpoints and people who have a real stake in that community and in the future of that area.”

At a Jan. 9 Leadership Sandy Springs event, Paul said he appointed his daughter’s former college roommate, Brie Harrison, because she is the prototype of the kind of person the effort is designed to help.

“She’s the typical person that I am concerned about and I think we should all be concerned about,” Paul said. “She…loves Sandy Springs and wants to stay here and fight to stay here. Those kinds of folks deserve our help and our focus and by golly as long as I’m your mayor that’s what we’re gonna try and do. Because that’s our obligation to our future.”

Paul also mentioned Harrison during the Jan. 7 council meeting when the committee was approved.

“For example, Ms. Harrison is a young woman. Her mother is Puerto-Rican, her father is African-American, she’s 31 years old, she’s a teacher who lives in our community, loves Sandy Springs and wants to stay here,” Paul said at the Jan. 7 meeting.

According to city spokesperson Sharon Kraun, the meetings will be public. The committee’s schedule has not been finalized yet.

“As those are scheduled, they will be posted on the city’s website,” Kraun said in an email.

The members of the committee are:

  • Nicholas Ardit – Business owner and resident
  • Sarah Cannon – Resident of the Elizabeth Heights neighborhood
  • Tamara Carrera – Executive director of the Community Assistance Center, a Sandy Springs-based nonprofit to help people at risk of homelessness.
  • Ken Dishman – Resident of the Princeton Square neighborhood and former City Council member who supported large-scale redevelopment in the north end during his time on the council.
  • Emile Escalera – Resident of the Lexington Crossing neighborhood
  • Jane Green – President of the Grogans Bluff homeowners association
  • Nakisha Harris – Huntcliff neighborhood homeowners association member
  • Brie Harrison – North End apartment renter
  • Derek Lawrie – North End resident
  • Sean O’Keefe – Owner of Pontoon Brewing Company
  • Darious Moore – Resident of the Winding River neighborhood
  • Ronda Smith – President of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, a coalition of the city’s homeowners associations.
  • Steve Soteres – Sandy Springs City Council member representing part of the North End who also chaired the North End Revitalization Task Force, which sought ways to spur redevelopment as well as retain and create affordable housing.

This story has been updated with a comment from Sean O’Keefe.

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