Residents: Zoning Request Leaves Neighborhoods Exposed to Commerical Intrusion

Sandy Springs residents are discouraged by the City Council's decision to delay a vote on a zoning request to create a driveway at Glenridge Medical Center onto Glenforest Road.


The question of whether neighborhoods are protected from commercial intrusion arose during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“We have repeatedly promised people in residential areas that we are not going to go ahead and decrease their quality of life,” said Councilman Tibby DeJulio. “We have neighborhoods all over Sandy Springs that could wind up having commercial intrusion.”

Residents booed as they left what was a packed City Council Chamber after Mayor Eva Galambos voted to defer a rezoning decision on a new driveway at Glenridge Medical Center onto Glenforest Road. The building is located at 5730 Glenridge Road and current zoning conditions do not allow for the driveway.

The Mayor cast the deciding vote when the six Council members were split on whether to delay the decision until mid-January.

Building owner Ralph Edwards says Glenridge Medical Center is 70 percent occupied and he can’t lease the rest of the building unless tenants believe their patients have safe access onto the street.

The Glenridge Hammond Neighborhood Association is against it.

 “They approached us three years ago,” said association president, Doug Falciglia, to Patch. “We felt that due to the [City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Future Land Use Plan] they really couldn’t do it and they were appealing to us...It’s my feeling if they had the neighborhood buy-in then the city could do what they want.” 

The Mayor along with Councilmembers, Gabriel Sterling, Dianne Fries and John Paulson advised the two sides to seek a compromise. However, the neighborhood is already disgruntled over a six-year delay by the building owner to install a wall as a visual buffer.

Do you believe your neighborhood is protected from commercial intrusion? Are you concerned? Tell us in the comments.

Former Community Development Director Nancy Leathers is a consultant to the neighborhood association. The  Comprehensive Land Use Plan was adopted to protect neighborhoods and residential streets, she said to City Council, adding that streets along Roswell Road have been protected from commercial intrusion because of it.

“We believe there is a need to provide consistent protection for neighborhoods,” said Leathers. “People are investing in their homes in part based on the fact you have supported this policy over the years since Sandy Springs became a city.”

In support of delaying a decsion to January, Fries noted how commercial access to the shopping center at the edge of her Huntcliff neighborhood has not been a problem.

A lawsuit brings an added wrinkle

City staff normally advises Council on zoning decisions but cannot in this case because of a pending lawsuit on behalf of the property over zoning approval of Lakeside Office Park back in August. City Council settled a lawsuit by MetLife, which co-owns Lakeside, when they approved rezoning for a mixed-use development on the site.

Lakeside is across the street from Glenridge Medical Center.

During the meeting, city attorney Cecil McClendon said the lawsuit is based on the plantiff’s belief that Lakeside rezoning will have a detrimental impact on the Medical Center building.

Some neighbors believe the lawsuit was filed in part to prevent city staff from advising Council members on the building’s rezoning.

DeJulio and Karen Meinzen McEnerny said the lawsuit resembled blackmail.

“I think this is a precedent that will destroy this city if every real estate attorney and every real estate developer realizes all they have to do is sue the city no matter how bad it is for the neighborhoods,” he said.

Before the vote to defer the decision was approved, the Councilman intended to vote to deny the rezoning application.

Mayor Galambos said, “I’m going to vote with the deferral in the hope that you folks will get with these developers and get something out of them that everybody can get ahead with.”

Falciglia and neighbors are not encouraged. "If she is saying get what you can get…It’s not very promising,” he said.

He suggests the building simply hire an off-duty police officer to direct traffic instead of creating a driveway.

Give us your take in the comments.

Edna C. Smith December 06, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Typical. This is an older neighborhood. The City Council has deemed these types of houses to be undesirable and that we should just sell out. Yes, myself and other longtime residents have heard similar comments from city officials in the past. Anything that was in Sandy Springs before "their" arrival is unimportant and a blight on "their" city. It's another reason why they refuse to preserve any scrap of history. What is it going to take to get them out of office?
Linda Mason December 07, 2012 at 03:37 PM
It is clear that the council is not interested in helping longtime residents and one of the oldest neighborhoods in Sandy Springs-it's all about the new guys and all the people from other counties passing through our city-forget about protecting the intregity of our residents-people already cut[fly] through our streets as it is- Eva- where is your heart- not beating for homeowners that is for sure-greed is not very attracted-these people knew about the enter and exit problem of the parking lot when they bought or leased that buiding.
Jan R December 07, 2012 at 04:26 PM
It's nice to see that others who live in the southern part of Sandy Springs (i.e., the older part) realize the bias that exists against us. The City's elected officials would in large part simply like to see our homes bulldozed. When nearly every tree was razed on the former Crawford & Co property, Mayor Galambos indicated that this was necessary because the building was outdated and no longer useful. The building that is still there, by the way. Thank you particularly to Karen McInerney who has tirelessly worked to help protect our neighborhoods.


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