ROSWELL, Ga. — Dozens of residents stayed up past midnight with Roswell City Council members June 24 to review plans to revitalize the East Village Shopping Center on Holcomb Bridge Road.
After four hours of discussion, the City Council voted 3-2, with members Mike Palermo and Marcelo Zapata opposed, to approve the plans. Councilman Matt Judy was not in attendance at the meeting.
The plans, a $75 million investment by The Worthing Companies, call for 76 townhomes in the middle of the property and 350 multi-family residential units in the rear similar to the applicant’s Brookleigh project in Brookhaven. About an acre would be allocated for green space that could be used for pop-up activities, like farmer’s markets or art shows. It would also contain 75,000 square feet of commercial space.
Darin Collier, The Worthing Companies, asked the City Council to remove conditions from the 2006 rezoning approval and add conditional use to allow multi-family residential units as well as conditional use for the height of one multi-family building. The lot would stay zoned as a commercial corridor.
The applicant made some changes to the plans first presented two weeks ago after Palermo asked for more integration before voting for a deferral.
Some of the changes include one four-story multi-family building to allow for additional commercial space on the ground floor, live-work units, two venues for public art and additional greenspace walkways.
Staff recommended approval with 11 conditions, including upgrades to the Champions Green Parkway roundabout, pavement marking refurbishes and a photometric evaluation of existing lighting. The conditions also stipulate that the applicant work with the Roswell Arts Fund to incorporate public art. The City Council also prohibited uses such as pawn shops, vehicle sales and title loans.
Residents left the meeting en masse once the City Council voted in favor of the plans. Several of them had spoken earlier against the proposal out of concerns over traffic and housing surplus. Prior to the meeting, over 1,200 people signed a change.org petition against the plans.
Several residents said they wanted a different type of project that would integrate into the area more or create a destination place for East Roswell.
Council members said they had received hundreds of emails and phone calls since the plans were first introduced at the June 10 City Council meeting.
Councilman Sean Groer said that some of the concerns he had heard were contradictory. People are worried about traffic, Groer said, but those same people want the center to be turned into a destination place, which would create more traffic.
Some residents at the meeting, including the HOA president for the Towns at East Village, spoke in favor of the plans. They said they are tired of looking at empty parking lots and want the city to work with the property owner to do something with the vacant lot.
Palermo said he would have preferred to defer the plans once again. He congratulated the applicant for all of the improvements to the project since the last meeting and said he would have liked to see how it could have changed even further with another deferral.
After the 3-2 vote, Palermo asked Mayor Lori Henry to veto the project. She did not respond.
Tensions after the meeting ran so high that police were sent to Councilwoman Marie Willsey’s house to check on her after receiving reports of online threats.