Roswell denies Alpine Drive commercial rezoning

Roswell City Council says project infringes on neighborhoods

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ROSWELL, Ga. – A Roswell businessman wanted to use the building next door for a showroom for his avant garde furniture, but the neighborhood next door argued the building was a home and part of the Hilton Hills subdivision.

The neighborhood won.

In a unanimous vote, the Roswell City Council agreed with the Planning Commission in denying the petition of Michael Bernstein to rezone the 0.67-acre lot at 390 Alpine Drive at Ga. 9 (Atlanta Highway).

Bernstein has a shop nearby next to the Hugo’s Oyster Bar, and he creates furniture from the bodies of cut-up automobiles. He wanted to rezone the house from residential to commercial to use as a showroom for his furniture-art.

The attorney for Bernstein said there were no plans for expansion. The only use would be as a showroom with quarterly informal parties for buyers/decorators for what he described as “high-end” art.

Traffic would be minimal with a truck to bring the furniture about once every two months.

This is what the new Unified Development Code had in mind, the attorney said.

Not so, said the 40-plus residents of Hilton Hills, Roswell Station and Brandon Heights who were there to oppose the rezoning. They saw the rezoning of 390 Alpine as a wedge into their community.

Beth Hampshire of Hilton Hills said any commercial traffic on Alpine could be devastating to the revitalization of their subdivision. More traffic would be a danger to children, too, she said.

She quoted Lisa DeCarbo of the Roswell Planning Commission who said, “The [Unified Development Code] was meant to allow residential in commercially zoned areas, not the other way around.”

Hilton resident Lee Stanston said he and his wife chose the property for “its lifestyle, its beauty and its parks.” Since moving in, they have spent almost as much in improvements as they paid for the home.

“This is almost a betrayal to allow someone to come into the neighborhood to rezone commercial here. It’s frightening,” he said.

Jenny Roark, a Roswell Station resident, said the three subdivisions that are linked by a common road share in the residential uses and amenities that come from living there.

“We aren’t just folks who live on a street, we are a community,” Roark said.

The City Council was quick to come down on the side of the residents in this case.

“A key part of the UDC is to protect neighborhoods. This is one of the truly walkable communities in Roswell,” said Councilman Kent Igleheart.

Councilman Jerry Orlans said he did not see this project fitting in as a home-based business.

“I can’t see cutting into this neighborhood,” he said.

Councilwoman Nancy Diamond had good words for Bernstein’s own redevelopment efforts in bringing his business to Roswell. But this expansion would be just too much.

RN 05-15-14