Like many of her neighbors, Heather Breeden is opposed to a developer’s plan to build a self-storage facility where the Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range once was.
“The Winterchase townhome (complex) is adjacent to the property,” said Breeden, who lives in Winterchase. “We recommend you deny their application. … Even with the new proposal of temporary co-working space, we remain in opposition. By Granting RRB (Development)’s request for a special-use permit, you’ll be granting an island of property that is not appropriate to the adjacent residences. … Our quality of life will be negative impacted because of the self-storage facility.”
RRB requested a conditional-use permit to convert the 1.04-acre property at 8040 Roswell Road to a self-storage facility with 720 units. But at the Sandy Springs City Council’s Sept. 17 meeting at City Springs, it voted 6-0 to deny the application, siding with the residents and others. However, another self-storage facility’s application was approved.
Ginger Sottile, Sandy Springs’ community development director, said the city staff recommended denial of the first application. And at its Aug. 27 meeting, the city’s planning commission meeting voted 5-2 to deny.
At the council meeting, five residents spoke out against the project during the public comment portion of that agenda item, and two more were also about to talk in opposition before Mayor Rusty Paul asked them not to, to save time, since they had nothing new to add. Many others made comments against the project through the city’s website or email address, according to a city document.
The club closed after being damaged in a fire in December 2016, and the owner has been trying to get a suitable buyer since then. Regarding the self-storage facility plan, neighbors cited noise, traffic and crime concerns, its close proximity to homes and an existing amount of self-storage businesses nearby as reasons it wasn’t appropriate.
Carl Westmoreland, the lawyer representing RRB, countered by saying, “There are specific criteria for the ordinance and we meet the criteria for that.”
Jim Berry, RRB’s managing member, said the company conducted a traffic study showing “it was a least trafficked business among those in the study” and obtained two years of crime report data from the city’s police department to show only 0.28% of crimes (and zero violent crimes) occurred at self-storage facilities.
But the council still voted to deny.
“This whole north end revitalization plan is important to all of us,” District 1 Councilman John Paulson said, referring to a city initiative that started in 2018. “And as I read through this application, this is not what I had envisioned, and this is one of the first steps we would take in the plan. We’ll see now this plays out in the future, but I’m not in favor of this one right now.”
After the council’s vote, the vast majority of residents attending the meeting left, prompting Paul to pause the meeting briefly as they filed out. But the second planned self-storage facility, which was next on the agenda, fared much better.
Taylor/Theus Holdings Inc.’s application for a conditional-use permit to build a self-storage business at 120 Northwood Drive as part of a mixed-use development was approved by the council 6-0. The project will have either 1,000 or 920 self-storage units depending on the design (Exhibit A or B), along with 13,600 square feet of space for retail and nonprofit tenants.
Three local charities — LaAmistad, Los Ninos Primero and the Community Assistance Center — already rent space there, and Taylor/Theus is allowing them to stay in the new development with subsidized rent at a max of $5 per square foot. It will also include a small park that keeps intact a playground used by children served by the nonprofits.
Ronda Smith, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, who spoke at every opportunity possible during the meeting, compared the two self-storage project proposals to “apples and oranges.” She said the organization, which aims to protect residential communities, is in favor of the Northwood one.
“It has ‘checked all the boxes’ for approval,” Smith said.