Source: Roswell Community Development Department, Acreages of Future Land Use Plan Map calculated by GIS, 2005.
PRINCIPLES GUIDING THE LAND USE PLAN
As noted at the outset of this chapter, the Land Use Element represents a culmination of the City’s community vision, vision statements for subareas, and the goals, policies, strategies, and objectives of other Comprehensive Plan elements. Reiterating all of them would not be appropriate here. Rather, it is appropriate to focus on those principles that have not already been illuminated in the various plan elements. Such principles include but are not limited to consistency with the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Development Plan (RDP) policies, best land use practices, and the City’s own guiding principles, policies and objectives.
REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (RDP) POLICIES This section of the Land Use Element describes 11 of 14 RDP policies and assesses the extent to which Roswell’s Land Use Element is consistent with them.3 RDP Policy #1: Provide development strategies and infrastructure investments to accommodate forecasted population and employment growth more efficiently. More efficient development is possible in certain instances in Roswell. Roswell strives to provide superior levels of service for community facilities and services so that continued development and redevelopment are likely, as opposed to displacing development into unincorporated areas of North Fulton County. Efficiencies are encouraged by providing for residential planned unit developments and encouraging revitalization within designated corridors, and maintaining development permissions within mixed-use and multi-use centers and corridors.
RDP Policy #2: Guide an increased share of new development to the Central Business District, transportation corridors, activity centers and town centers.
By adopting an overall development concept map with designated centers, corridors, districts, and other character areas, Roswell has re-conceptualized its development policies to be consistent with this RDP policy. Designated centers include the local historic district (historic center), the Town Center at SR 9 and Holcomb Bridge/Crossville Road, and the area surrounding the interchange of Georgia Highway 400 and Holcomb Bridge Road. Transportation corridors are also recognized in the overall development concept map, including the Midtown Roswell redevelopment corridor, Holcomb Bridge Road, Crossville Road (SR 92, also known as Parkway Village), and Marietta Highway (SR 120, also known as Garrison Hill). Because these centers and corridors have the greatest remaining development and redevelopment potential, Roswell’s land use plan and overall development concept map are consistent with this RDP policy.
RDP Policy #3: Increase opportunities for mixed-use development, infill and redevelopment. Roswell has made great strides, however, to integrate additional opportunities for mixed-use development and redevelopment into its Comprehensive Plan. The local historic district provides for mixtures of land uses and has permitted such mixtures for some time now. The Parkway Village Overlay District (SR 92 corridor) permits commercial, office, and townhouses to be developed in close proximity to one another. The Midtown Roswell Redevelopment Plan and overlay district specifically provide for residential-office-civic-commercial mixed use developments.
Infill development has been occurring without additional specific policies, because the land values in Roswell (and its high quality of life) make continued development economically viable. Developing infill sites will become increasingly more challenging, however, as the sites remaining become scarcer, difficult to develop physically, and more challenging in terms of development approvals particularly where higher densities are involved.
RDP Policy #4: Increase transportation choices and transit-oriented development (TOD). As noted earlier in this Land Use Element, Roswell is not served by heavy rail transit stations. It does have MARTA bus service, and transit-friendly development regulations have been instituted in Roswell’s 2003 Zoning Ordinance. Nonetheless, there is little Roswell can do to implement transit-oriented development.
Roswell’s multi-modal transportation plan (see Chapter 12 of the Comprehensive Plan) addresses several efforts to increase transportation choice, including the development of a citywide trails network, sidewalk improvements, bikeway planning, and integration of multi-modal objectives into more specific plans such as the Midtown Roswell Redevelopment Plan.
RDP Policy #5: Provide a variety of housing choices throughout the region. This RDP policy is addressed in the Housing Element (Chapter 2 of the Comprehensive Plan). The City’s Housing Element includes an assessment of the types of housing units available and the forecasted needs of Roswell’s future population. A wide variety of housing types are available (and diversification opportunities possible), including detached single-family dwellings, townhouses, apartments, condominiums, loft dwellings, and accessory apartments. Although a regional allocation of affordable housing units has not been proposed in the regional development plan, it appears that Roswell has its fair share of multi-family units.
RDP Policy #6: Preserve and enhance the stability of existing residential neighborhoods.
This policy is especially important in Roswell, which is mostly a collection of suburban-style subdivisions. Most of Roswell’s neighborhoods have high-value housing and are expected to remain stable throughout the planning horizon (2025). There are some neighborhoods, however, that may require special attention in order to remain stable. The combination of age (many units in these neighborhoods were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s), size (they are smaller than most households find suitable today), and transitions in terms of social demographics make these intown neighborhoods more susceptible to change, transition, and possibly decline. The neighborhoods designated as “intown settlement” on the overall development concepts map may require special attention in the future for these reasons. Neighborhood plans targeted at one or more of these intown neighborhoods are recommended, as they offer an opportunity for the City to ensure that these older settlements remain stable and are better connected with commercial redevelopment areas.
RDP Policy #7. Advance sustainable greenfield development. This policy is increasingly irrelevant to Roswell as almost all of its vacant, fringe-area lands have already been developed and emphasis has shifted to infill sites and redevelopment. Nonetheless, Roswell’s land use regulations provide for “conservation subdivisions” which provide opportunities for set-aside of green space which promotes a more sustainable suburban form. Roswell’s Zoning Ordinance also provides for residential planned unit developments, which promote open space set-asides and more efficient development. In short, Roswell has done what it can do to implement this policy, considering its relevance to the City’s future development policies is increasingly remote.
RDP Policy #8. Protect environmentally sensitive areas. As described more fully in the Natural Resources Element of this Comprehensive Plan, as well as earlier sections of this Land Use Element, Roswell has remained a leader regionally in terms of its natural resource protection. It has protected the Chattahoochee River corridor and enhanced it with multi-modal transportation and recreational opportunities. Its watersheds, wetlands, and flood plains are adequately protected. It has policies for protecting against inappropriate development on steep slopes which are enforced during a design review process.
RDP Policy #9. Create a regional network of greenspace that connects across jurisdictional boundaries.
Roswell adopted a greenspace plan (see the Natural Resources Element), when the Governor’s greenspace program was initiated under then Governor Roy Barnes. In the past year (2004), the greenspace commission was in the process of being reinvented under Governor Perdue. The Chattahoochee River is the primary opportunity for linkage to the larger, regional open space network. By installing a multi-use trail along the river, purchasing additional land along the river (with the help of the Trust for Public Land), and taking over park lands previously managed by Fulton County, Roswell has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that the river corridor in the City provides attractive greenspace consistent with regional (and indeed, national, considering the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area lands) greenspace objectives. The City has also expended funds to develop Oxbo Park, which runs between Oxbo Road and Big Creek in the central part of the City.
A key desire of the City is to link the Chattahoocchee River greenway with the Big Creek Greenway developed in the adjacent City of Alpharetta. Such connections present practical challenges, as most if not all of the land along Big Creek between the Alpharetta city limits and Oxbo Park are developed. There are also substantial financial challenges as well to making that connection, even if it is determined physically possible to link the Oxbo Park (which connects or can connect to the Big Creek Unit National Recreation Area (shown as a “preserve” on the overall development concepts map) with Alpharetta’s Big Creek Greenway.4 While not crossing into other jurisdictions, it is important to note that citizens participating in the City’s visioning workshops strongly suggested that Roswell do more to connect its own park system together by bike lanes and sidewalks and/or multi-use trails. Hence, in addition to continuing to explore alternatives to connections with greenspace outside the City, Roswell desires to pursue connections of greenspaces and park lands within the City itself.
RDP Policy #10: Preserve existing rural character. Roswell’s suburbanization and maturing as a city has left fewer and fewer opportunities (or desires) to preserve rural character. One exception is a still-rural area in west-central Roswell, south of Crossville Road. That area has been designated as rural development on the overall development concepts map, and it is adequately implemented by the City’s Zoning Ordinance through a two-acre lot minimum. No other areas are described in this plan as being appropriate for preservation as rural.
RDP Policy #11: Preserve historic resources.
As the Historic Preservation Element of this Comprehensive Plan makes clear (see Chapter 6), Roswell has been a regional leader in preserving its historic resources. The City clearly implements this regional development plan policy.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN BEST LAND USE PRACTICES The Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Development Plan Guidebook (2004) summarizes various quality growth tools that local governments can implement in their Comprehensive Plans, land use regulations, and development review processes. For each tool, the guidebook articulates “best policies” for land use, intergovernmental coordination, housing, and environment. Table 9.12 identifies, for each development-related and corridor planning tool, those best land use practices related to land use elements of comprehensive plans and provides notes on the extent to which they are implemented in Roswell. Generally, Roswell achieves 90-95% compliance with those best land use practices that pertain to tools consistent with the City’s land use policies.