ROSWELL, Ga. — A new development, directly across from City Hall, promises to be Roswell’s densest apartments-per-acre project. 

The Roswell City Council voted 3-1, with Councilman Mike Palermo opposed, to approve conditional use for a new multi-family development at 25 Hill St., on the corner with Ga. 9. Current businesses at the site include Kell’s Furniture Restoration, Hicks Automotive and Expedite Passport Experts. 

Councilman Marcelo Zapata was not at the meeting.

The item had been deferred twice, at the June 10 and Aug. 12 City Council meetings, to determine how the development would fit in with new information about the city’s developing Historic District Master Plan. During that time, the applicant made some changes to the project to meet requirements.

According to Planning and Zoning Director Jackie Deibel, the applicant successfully altered the development so it would fit within the North Alpharetta/Atlanta Street character area as outlined in the master plan. 

The proposed development includes 96 units — 47 one-bedroom units and 49 two-bedroom units — and nearly 10,100 square feet of commercial space. The project is vertically integrated, with commercial at the bottom and residential at the top, and with a maximum height of four stories. 

It was approved with 11 conditions recommended by staff. The conditions include inter-parcel connectivity, coordination with GDOT for intersection improvements, and additional roadway and pedestrian street lighting if a lighting analysis deems it necessary. 

The number of units in the development is not guaranteed, thanks to a condition passed by the City Council. The applicant may lose units based on compliance with staff and Historic Preservation Commission requirements. 

Ed Tate, representing the applicant ADM Realty Partners, said the project will improve walkability in the area and provide housing for young adults as well as aging populations.

“If you want to reduce the number of cars in your Historic District, you have to let people live where they can walk,” he said.

While the City Council was favorable to the most recent changes to the project, Palermo questioned why the city should approve a development with record-breaking apartment-per-acre density.

That question was at the core of several comments made my residents, who were likewise concerned about the project’s density. They said that it could set a dangerous precedent for other developments. 

Other residents urged the City Council to vote for the project to add more business, life and growth to the area.

Councilman Matt Judy applauded the applicant’s redesign for meeting and exceeding requirements, codified and non-codified, by the city as well as addressing residents’ concerns that the development would become a second version of the controversial Vickers apartments on the corner of Canton Street and Woodstock Road.

“This is not Vickers,” he said. “This sits on a state highway. It does not abut a residential neighborhood. It’s vertically integrated already… How many more bars can we set?”

Judy added that excessive conditions would make Roswell look unattractive for people looking to live or do business in the city.

Palermo noted that several people had commented at the meeting that the project was not perfect but should be accepted to avoid scaring off other developers.

“Roswell should not be settling,” he said. “What leads us to settle is when people make it out to be black or white, that someone is for development or against development. That’s not really what’s going on in the community… It’s not either we have to say ‘yes’ to a record-breaking amount of apartments, or we have to say ‘no’ to all development.”

Palermo added that precedent does matter and that before this development, Vickers was the densest residential development in the city. 

“Now, we’re almost about to beat that by double the amount,” he said. “That’s not something that is good for the long-term planning of our city.”

He proposed to approve the development with all staff recommendations, but he added a condition that the residential density not exceed 32 units per acre. His motion failed for lack of a second.

Judy said that from a legal perspective, this decision would not create a precedent.

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