Confusion over how individuals could submit public comments led the city of Sandy Springs to cancel its June 17 planning commission meeting.

That meeting was the commission’s first one since February, with the March through May meetings cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the city of Sandy Springs transitioned from virtual meetings back to in-person ones as part of its facilities’ reopening plan in response to the outbreak, it decided to cancel the June meeting when it realized not everyone who may have wanted to submit a public comment could do so based on problems with the format.

“The online form for public comment referred to meetings of the city council, but did not specifically list (the) planning commission,” city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said. “While the form could be used for the planning commission meeting, we realized that it was confusing for some residents.

“We want to be as transparent as possible with the public, so the decision was made to defer the cases until the next meeting. The change is a delay but should not cause any other hardship for the applicants. The next planning commission meeting is July 22, which is on the city’s calendar.”

Tochie Blad, a neighborhood watchdog and Sandy Springs resident, did not attend the meeting but heard about its cancellation from a friend who was there.

“I think it’s imperative that the city has input from the public and all interested parties in all these meetings as we move forward from virtual meetings to in-person meetings,” she said. “I’m very appreciative the council meetings will continue (to be live-streamed) online whether it’s Facebook Live or Webex since not everyone is at a comfort level to attend them in public yet.”

“There was confusion (with) the planning commission on how to submit public comment. It’s great we have another 30 days to look at the text amendments for the (city’s) zoning code. It’s very difficult (after) there have been several years of public comment to create the (city’s) Next Ten Comprehensive Plan. I’m glad the planning commission recognized the confusion and gave residents more time to comment on these zoning ordinances.”

A phone message left with Commissioner Elizabeth Kelly seeking comment on the meeting was not immediately returned.

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