Sandy Springs mayor names north end redevelopment task force

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At the March 20 Sandy Springs City Council meeting at City Hall, Mayor Rusty Paul announced his task force and the council approved a formal program to begin planning for redevelopment of the city’s north end.

In January, the council adopted redevelopment of the north end as a priority for the city. The low-density rental housing typical of the 1960s and 1970s, a declining retail environment and a lack of advancement found in other parts of the city are cited among reasons for the focused attention.

The North End Task Force appointees are: Jack Arnold, Carolyn Axt, David Couchman, Melanie Couchman, Charles Crosby, Colin Hubbard, Patrick Jones, Richard Munger, Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic, Ronda Smith, Steve Soteres and Gabriel Sterling.

The city has hired Civic Strategies Inc., an Atlanta-based planning firm, to work with and manage the efforts of the task force. The task force will focus on four sets of activities as part of their visioning and planning:

o Citizen engagement: Including sessions with those living in the north end and those living elsewhere in the city to gain insight into both concerns and hopes for redevelopment and how to implement those improvements.

o Work sessions to assess the north end’s current situation, exploration of different visions of what it could be, considerations of obstacles, creating a draft vision and providing the council with a set of recommendations.

o Create an organized way of bringing feedback into the task force’s work from landowners and businesses as well as nonprofits involved with workforce housing.

o Providing a written report of the task for findings and recommendations.

Civic Strategies will work with both city management and the task force, assisting with facilitating community engagement events, working with the task force, and providing assistance with final recommendations and reports. A final report is due to the council prior to its next retreat in January.

In other news, the council approved a 60-day moratorium on acceptance of land-use and development permit applications for new hotels. The pause was enacted to give the city time to correct inconsistencies with its zoning code.

“In reviewing the code, staff realized that there remain questions related to hotels, including how they are defined within the code which need to be corrected to align with the city’s development code and zoning policies,” Sandy Springs Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert said in a news release.

Tolbert also said the city has not received any application requests recently. City staff will use the next two months to prepare proposed changes and make recommendations to the council.

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