Land use element

Table 9.12 Regional Development Plan “Best Land Use Practices”

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Table 9.12

Regional Development Plan “Best Land Use Practices”

and their Application in Roswell


Best Land Use Practice

Applicability in Roswell

Transit-oriented Development

Opportunities are assessed and identified

Complies although TOD opportunities are minimal in Roswell

Transit-oriented Development

Density bonuses for transit-supportive development are considered

The Midtown Roswell Redevelopment Plan offers higher densities for mixed-use redevelopment along a bus transit corridor in selected redevelopment areas

Mixed-use Development

Opportunities are assessed and identified

Complies (see discussion in this Land Use Element)

Mixed-use Development

Incentives, such as density bonuses, are considered and if appropriate, provided.

Incentives such as process streamlining are encouraged in the redevelopment strategy (see Chapter 4, Comprehensive Plan)

Mixed-use Development

Densities and intensities within mixed use development are higher than average in the community

The Midtown Roswell Redevelopment Plan offers densities/intensities consistent with redevelopment needs and City objectives

Mixed-use Development

Strive for a job-housing balance within a three to five mile area around a development site

Not directly implemented but considered for developments of regional impact

Traditional Neighborhood Development

Opportunities are assessed and identified

Complies. TND was considered and is implemented in part, but there is no specific TND district proposed

Infill Development

Acreage data for infill areas and redevelopment areas by type of land use are provided

Limited data are provided. More specific study of infill opportunities and responses to them is recommended

Infill Development

Residential infill development opportunities are identified, barriers are identified, and expected buildout is quantified

Constraints are identified, opportunities in a broad sense are identified; quantifying infill opportunities could be more refined

Infill Development

Incentives for encouraging infill development are considered

Market has resulted in development of infill sites, but more attention to this is needed

Infill Development

Non-residential infill development opportunities are identified, barriers are identified, and expected buildout is quantified

Limited data are provided. Strategy has focused on corridors. Barriers are addressed in redevelopment strategy (see Chapter 4)

Mixed-income Housing

Opportunities and barriers are identified and expected buildout in dwelling units is quantified

See description in Housing Element (Chapter 2)

Redeveloping Corridors

Corridors identified for redevelopment are identified and shown on growth policy map

Complies; Midtown Roswell (SR 9) is identified as a redevelopment corridor; study of Holcomb Bridge Road corridor is pending (2005)

Redeveloping Corridors

Expected buildout of redevelopment is quantified.

Complies; Midtown Roswell Redevelopment Plan quantifies desirable land use mixes

Redeveloping Corridors

Density bonuses and other incentives are considered and provided as appropriate

Complies; see Redevelopment Element (Chapter 4)

Greyfield Redevelopment

Opportunities are assessed and identified

Not referred to as such but reasonably implied within Redevelopment Element (see Chapter 4)

Greyfield Redevelopment

The amount of land zoned commercial is reduced if necessary to support this tool

Complies; Roswell’s commercial strategy is the reuse of centers versus zoning for new ones

Overlay Districts

A map or definition of areas where overlay districts apply is provided

Complies; see overall development concept map and descriptions of character areas

Conservation Subdivisions

Conservation subdivisions are permitted in at least one zoning district by right and built within designated areas

Complies; see Article 28 of City Zoning Ordinance

Jobs-Housing Balance

Ratios of jobs-to-housing units are provided for appropriate geographic areas

Plan does not meet this best practice.

Jobs-Housing Balance

Jobs-housing balance policies exist

Plan discusses jobs-housing balance but finds specific policies are not needed

Upon showing the relative consistency with the Atlanta Regional Commissions Regional Development Plan (RDP) policies and best land use practices, the policy framework for land use in Roswell shifts attention to its own set of guiding principles and policies for land use.

Guiding Land Use Principle #1: Protect, support and maintain the City’s many fine and stable neighborhoods.

Emphasis is placed on land use compatibility using such techniques as creating transition in land use intensity stepping down from high-intensity commercial or industrial uses to low-intensity single-family residential developments. This is often achieved by locating intervening uses that have intermediate intensities (professional offices or townhouses, for instance) or creating separations through natural buffers. Intrusions into neighborhoods by incompatible uses that would proceed domino-fashion up local streets as an extension of commercial uses fronting on major thoroughfares should be avoided.
Guiding Land Use Principle #2: Respect and maintain prevailing land use patterns.
Very little of Roswell’s land remains vacant and available for development. With the exception of a few large vacant properties in the far northwestern portion of the City, future development will occur on tracts ranging from 10s (not 100s) of acres down to single lots within existing neighborhoods. Prevailing land use patterns are well established by existing development that surrounds or borders these development properties and clearly indicate appropriate use of these vacant lands. Infill is therefore encouraged if compatible with surrounding existing development.
Guiding Land Use Principle #3: Encourage a higher level of livability in future multi-family communities while reducing their impact on the City.

High-density housing in Roswell should continue to be primarily clustered within major transportation corridors where transit services can be economically provided, and should be located near commercial areas where pedestrian access can be encouraged.

Past experience with multi-family development in Roswell—especially the suburban garden apartment type of complex—has resulted in unrelieved seas of rooftops and parking lots with little open space and minimal amenities. To a great extent, this has been due to a basically low-density design developed at a higher density (up to 14 units per acre). As a policy, Roswell intends to discourage multi-family densities over five units per acre (with the exception of the overlay districts) in order to encourage design that will create more livable multi-family communities in the future.
Guiding Land Use Principle #4: Encourage redevelopment of obsolete or economically deteriorating areas.
Obsolete or heavily impacted areas can devolve into slums unless viable alternatives are available that can generate economically sound reuse of the area. Deteriorating residential areas (such as those close to and east of downtown) should be encouraged to transition or redevelop to appropriate uses that will not disrupt the fabric of the neighborhood or the City. This principle has specific and unique application to suburban-style commercial developments that are being passed over by retailers seeking more modern facilities or better competitive locations. For more information see the Redevelopment Element (Chapter 4).
Guiding Land Use Principle #5: Emphasize redevelopment over expansion of commercial uses into new and unforeseen areas.

Encourage redevelopment of obsolete or deteriorating commercial sites, and support the redevelopment to provide a mixture of uses (including residential). Give preference to development proposals that increase intensities on properties that are presently commercial over the establishment of new and unforeseen commercial areas that may result in the abandonment and boarding up of older shopping centers and stores.

An important strategy to encourage redevelopment over excessive expansion is to discourage any new commercial rezoning that is not consistent with the land use plan, particularly for general commercial (as opposed to neighborhood commercial) uses. To the extent that the future land use map shows less land for commercial development than the market may demand over the next 20 years, the economic feasibility of redeveloping and densifying existing commercial centers will increase.
Guiding Land Use Principle #6: Restrict light industrial development opportunities to employment-oriented non-manufacturing uses in appropriate locations.
Roswell’s light industrial area is appropriately located relative to similar uses in neighboring Alpharetta, and has excellent access to the state highway system (limiting traffic impacts on City residents) provided that development intensities are kept low. Since vacant light industrial land within the area is roughly adequate to meet anticipated future market demand, no new industrial areas are proposed in the City. Uses that should be encouraged in the industrial area include business parks, wholesale companies and showrooms, light assembly or fabrication, business equipment supply or repair, and distribution facilities for local deliveries.
Guiding Land Use Principle #7: Protect the capacity of major thoroughfares through nodal development techniques. Discourage additional strip commercial development.

New commercial areas should be focused in nodes around major intersections, rather than spread out lineally along roadways. Intervening areas along major thoroughfares between nodes should be developed or planned with residential subdivisions having reverse frontage lots that back up to the thoroughfare, or with multi-family communities. Where residential development is not feasible, low intensity professional office uses or institutional uses are acceptable alternatives to strip commercial.

The demand for “big box” redevelopment (uses similar to Home Depot, Sam’s Warehouse and Target that have a regional draw) should be met only where appropriate, and then by restricting such uses to identified commercial nodes along major thoroughfares where traffic accessibility is optimized.
Guiding Land Use Principle #8: In newly annexed areas, respect the zoning and land uses previously approved by Fulton County.
Fulton County maintains a sophisticated and citizen-oriented planning program and completed plans for areas that are now a part of the City. The Comprehensive Plan and implementing regulations should respect and protect the county’s prior determinations of appropriate land use, as expected by the residents and property owners of such areas now within Roswell.
Guiding Land Use Principle #9: Detached Versus Attached Residential Ratio.
Roswell strives to maintain a detached residential versus attached residential ratio of 65:35. The residential ratios by planning area (see Table 2.2 of this Comprehensive Plan) should be utilized in deliberation of land use decisions. (Note, this was added by amendment October 11, 2004).
Guiding Land Use Principle #10: Density Changes.

It is the intention of the Mayor and Council that in the event that a land use classification corresponds with a zoning district and that zoning district’s density changes due to a zoning text amendment, the zoning text shall supercede the land use density represented on the City’s land use map and such land use map shall be amended with the next major update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. (Note, this was added by amendment October 11, 2004).

Development in Roswell over the next 20 years can be seen as a continuation—a build out—of land use patterns and trends that have been established over the past thirty years or more. Some older, non-historic areas will redevelop to more economically viable and appropriate uses when financially feasible. Some currently vacant properties will be developed for uses that are planned but for which the zoning is not yet in place. A trend toward intensification and mixed-use redevelopment of existing low-intensity commercial centers is anticipated, as well as an upswing in employment-oriented offices for people who are no longer dependent on long commutes to work (particularly where transit is available).
Virtually none of Roswell’s land will remain undeveloped by the year 2020. Table 9.11 shows the amount of the City (in acres) that is expected to be developed for each of the future land use categories discussed earlier in this chapter, as well as totals and percent of total land area for each category. The future land use map has been prepared under the guiding land use principles, described above. For the purposes of the Comprehensive Plan, of course, all figures reflect the city limits as they currently exist since the dynamics involved in annexation are too complex and/or uncertain to allow accurate predictions of future expansions.
Key implications of the future land use plan are articulated in this section according to the eight planning areas described earlier in this Land Use Element. Refer to Map 9.1 for boundaries of these eight planning areas. Description is limited here to major land use trends expected during the planning horizon.

Planning Area 1: Central Roswell

  • Infill development, primarily commercial and townhouses, along the east side of Atlanta Street south of the Town Square.

  • Single-family infill subdivisions may be developed on steeply sloping lands north of Riverside Road, and along the north side of Grimes Bridge Road.

  • Additional commercial development may occur between Dogwood Road Extension and Georgia 400.

  • A transition of the older residential neighborhood along Zion Circle and Myrtle Street to office and high-density residential uses may occur. This area has potential for new office uses adjacent to City Hall along Forrest Street and moderate-income residences along Myrtle Street and Zion Circle. Redevelopment will likely occur south of City Hall.

  • Government uses, such as expansion of municipal facilities, may be needed during the planning horizon and might appropriately be located near or adjacent to the detention center and municipal complex.

  • The small, light industrial area south of City Hall may witness some pressure to expand; however, the plan does not support expansion of this small industrial area.

Planning Area 2: Southwest Roswell

  • Some pressure may be evident to expand the neighborhood commercial node at the SR 120/Coleman Road intersection to the east along Marietta Highway or north on Coleman Road, but such expansion is not supported in the Comprehensive Plan.

  • There is also some potential for additional medium-density residential development along the north side of Marietta Highway. This is permitted and anticipated if density is consistent with the future land use plan map.

Planning Area 3: West Central Roswell

  • The vast majority of development in Planning Area 3 will occur on infill parcels or individual subdivision lots.

  • The existing residential land use pattern moving east to west from medium-density single-family neighborhoods to suburban densities to estate residential in the northwestern quadrant will be maintained.

  • A continuing care residential facility is under construction at the southwest quadrant of Woodstock and Crossville roads.

Planning Area 4: Northwest Roswell

  • By 2020, almost 80 percent of the area will be built out with single-family neighborhoods, variously at suburban residential densities to the east at Crabapple and to the west, south of Mountain Park; low-density in the central southern portion (including Brookfield West); and very low-density estate residential in the northern portion bordering on Cherokee County.

  • The commercial nodes at (1) Crossville Road between Mountain Park Road and Hardscrabble Road and (2) Crabapple (silos) node (shared with Alpharetta), are not proposed for expansion beyond the area currently developed or already zoned for nonresidential use.

  • Commercialization of Hardscrabble Road from State Route 92 is to be avoided.

Planning Area 5: North Central Roswell

  • The industrial area may be completely built out within five years.

  • The largest amount of new development is projected for the commercial category, particularly general commercial, as the SR 9, Mansell Road, and Holcomb Bridge Road strips reach full development. Some minor expansion of the Crabapple Road/Crossville Road node may occur with offices extending north and south. The Hardscrabble Road/Crabapple Road intersection may expand further with offices transitioning southerly to Sweetapple Elementary School at Etris Road.

  • Commercialization of Hardscrabble Road from State Route 92 is to be avoided.

Planning Area 6: Northeast Roswell

  • Additional office-professional development is possible in the Georgia 400/Holcomb Bridge Road interchange area.

  • New office development with ancillary commercial uses along Holcomb Bridge Road is probable in the Centennial High School area.

  • Prospects exist for infill at the development node on Holcomb Bridge Road at Nesbit Ferry Road.

Planning Area 7: East Central Roswell

  • One of the larger undeveloped parcels in Roswell exists in this planning area, along Old Alabama Road between Holcomb Bridge Road and Riverside Drive, just east of Georgia 400. It is zoned for multi-story office and commercial use (OCMS).

  • Residential development will fill in vacant properties and subdivision lots at densities already established by surrounding development and zoning patterns.

  • A property of particular interest is the large vacant tract lying along Holcomb Bridge Road west of Eves Road. Directly across Holcomb Bridge Road from the site is vacant land already zoned for office. A low density residential use has been designated for the site because of its unusually steep slopes and resulting limited development potential.

Planning Area 8: East Roswell

  • The majority of the new residential development planned for Planning Area 8 is single-family subdivisions at densities consistent with surrounding neighborhoods. The limited increase in high-density development is anticipated on infill parcels that are already approved for such use.

  • Retail commercial and office development in the planning area are anticipated on vacant properties already approved for such uses. Importantly, no new retail commercial uses are shown on the southern side of Holcomb Bridge Road; all such nonresidential development is to be office-professional in nature.

The future development of several specific land uses are subject to policies of the Mayor and City Council that influence their location or other associated development factors.
Cell Towers

The City has adopted a policy and ordinance provisions regarding the location of telecommunications towers. The City’s policy is generally to allow such uses only in commercial and light industrial areas or on City-owned properties (see master siting plan available from the Community Development Department). Alternative camouflaged or concealed tower structures may be considered for placement by the Mayor and City Council, regardless of zoning district.

Churches, when located in residential areas, can lead to several potential problems. The scope of development of modern church facilities has grown over the years from a scale compatible with residential areas to a scale that can have major negative impacts—traffic, noise and visual—on the quality of life in nearby neighborhoods. On the one hand, “mega-churches” have come into vogue that can seat 10,000 worshipers or more; on the other hand, “accessory” uses such as child and adult day care, K-12 parochial schools, outreach ministries and counseling centers can extend the impact of a church complex far beyond that of the sanctuary itself.
The Mayor and City Council welcome new churches and other places of worship into the community, support expansion of existing facilities, and value their contribution to the City’s residents and the quality of life enjoyed by all. Locational issues and regulations, however, need attention in order to assure religious freedom and access to facilities for worship without unnecessarily impacting specific neighborhoods in the process.
Elementary, middle and high schools, like churches, are important elements of the fabric of society in Roswell and are welcome contributors to the City’s quality of life. However, schools can also have negative impacts on neighborhoods depending on their location, scale, site planning and access patterns. Although the City has no regulatory authority over public schools, private schools are conditional rather than permitted uses in residential districts.
Housing for Seniors

The Mayor and City Council recognize that the population demographics of Roswell’s residents, along with the country as a whole, will increasingly shift to an aging profile. As Roswell’s residents get older and the children no longer live at home, the City wishes to assure that people who live in Roswell will be able to stay in the community as their housing needs shift away from the single-family detached home. With regard to assisted housing communities and nursing homes, the City encourages their development. Such facilities are considered particularly appropriate in locations where transit, shopping and community facilities are available on a pedestrian scale.

Neighborhood Shopping
Much of Roswell’s retail commercial development has been scaled at the regional level, attracting shoppers from communities and counties outside of the City. Such facilities are very appropriate on major thoroughfares where accessibility is adequate, and they serve Roswell residents as well as visitors to the City. In addition, the Mayor and City Council support development of retail uses at the neighborhood scale, at designated locations that are convenient to Roswell’s neighborhoods and do not require long trips to shopping centers for minor purchases. Locations for such facilities are shown on the future land use map.
The Comprehensive Plan does not provide for small-scale uses (e.g., convenience store) within or near established neighborhoods. However, as a part of future mixed use developments, neighborhood serving commercial uses might be considered, as appropriate.
Office Campuses
As a policy, the Mayor and City Council support the development, in designated locations, of major employment centers occupied by businesses whose employee profiles match the executive and managerial occupations of the City’s residents. These businesses would be employment resources for Roswell residents and contribute to lower vehicle miles traveled rates and shorter commutes. The future land use map shows appropriate locations for such development.
Big Box Commercial

“Big box” redevelopment (uses similar to Home Depot, Sam’s Warehouse and Target that have a regional draw) should be restricted to identified commercial nodes along major thoroughfares where traffic accessibility is optimized. The Comprehensive Plan supports regulations, already adopted, that limit single commercial retail occupants to no more than 65,000 square feet of floor area, unless such space already existed (with the exception of the Parkway Village designation for corporate campuses).

1 See Chapter 4, Redevelopment Element, for a capsule summary of redevelopment that occurred within Roswell in recent years.

2 Weitz, Jerry, 2003. Jobs-Housing Balance. Planning Advisory Service Report Number 516. Chicago: American Planning Association.

3 RDP policies 12, 13, and 14 relate to “coordination” and are therefore not discussed in this section. RDP policy #13, “Coordinate local policies and regulations to support the RDP,” is addressed by virtue of including this section in the Comprehensive Plan.

4 As recently as December 30, 2004, Roswell Mayor Jere Wood was quoted that such a project (connecting to Alpharetta’s Big Creek Greenway) is a worthy project but faces challenges. The Mayor invited citizens to speak up on projects that might be funded with a new bond referendum in 2006. See: “Saving by Borrowing,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 30, 2004, page JH3.

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