Updated - Wednesday, 12:15 p.m. -
Neighborhoods around Etris Road are breathing a collective sigh of relief after Roswell City Council approved a significantly less dense zoning classification than what was proposed by a property owner at the corner of Etris and Kent roads. But, the question remains: how long will the relief last since the would-be developer, Edward Andrews Homes CEO Paul Corley, bristled at the idea of lowering density and threatened legal action if denied?
"I think what they did is so wrong and unfair to the property owner and has no relationship to the protection, safety, health or welfare of the people of Roswell. We’re evaluating what we need to do," Douglas Dillard, the property owner's attorney, told Roswell Patch. "If we’ve got to go to court to get council to give us a zoning that is reasonable…that's the council’s choice, this is not our choice."
Local resident Kevin Caldwell seemed to speak for quite a few residents when he told city council he wasn't opposed to development, but called the tactics used by developers to get the parcel rezoned things a "bully" would do.
Property owner William Corely Cook faced vehement opposition to his proposal for 38 single family homes on 16 acres via lot sizes starting at 9,000 square feet. Instead of approving his request, council approved an R-1 zoning classification, with the addition of 16 conditions, for the property. Lots in neighboring subdivisions Hamilton Commons, Edenwilde and Wexford mainly are sized between 12,000 and 18,000 square feet, according to the planning report by city staff.
Neighbors contend that the addition of a neighborhood with houses packed in so closely together on small lots is not consistent with the surrounding area, which is dotted with estates and large-platted neighborhoods.
Dillard called the debate about lot size ridiculous, "Lot size has nothing to do with value, nothing to do with the consistency of the comprehensive plan. It’s what you build that’s important."
Prior to Monday night's decision by council, the property was zoned AG-1 under the old Fulton County zoning ordinances. The proposed development, which could not show proof of having marketed the project, was requesting variances on Roswell's R-3A zoning classification - also known as "multi family residential." It's a classification that is often attached to townhomes, though the property owner assured local residents that was not their intent.
Residents who packed council chambers pointed to Roswell's 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which says the city will allow development that is consistent with the surrounding areas.
"It doesn’t conform in so many ways,” Kent Road homeowner Ronnie Orston said of the proposed rezoning.
Orston argued that Kent Road - a dirt road - couldn't handle the vehicle traffic, to which the developers engineers shot back with a plan to make it a paved 22-foot wide road.
The new zoning would only allow between 22 and 26 houses to be developed. But Dillard said development of the property under the new zoning, with the conditions, doesn't make sense financially. He said it wouldn't allow for infrastructure improvements like paving Kent Road, or buying unused sewer hookups into the Little River Basin - which is currently maxed out and not accepting any new hookups, according to Fulton County.
After the R-1 motion was made by Councilwoman Nancy Diamond, the property owner made an eleventh hour request for R-2 zoning with variances. Since the newly proposed request was not granted, he will have the option of reapplying for R-2 zoning.
It's one of the two options Corely Cook is considering, Dillard told Roswell Patch. If he chooses to file a lawsuit instead, he will have 30 days from Aug. 13.