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Groveway Community Redesign Finds Champions, Detractors

The Roswell City Council will give a final vote on the Groveway Hybrid Form Based Code, Monday, April 9. The code will effectively allow for renovation and revitalization of the Groveway community within the historic district.

Just as they do every second and fourth Monday of the month, tomorrow the will convene during a regular meeting that could very well impact Roswell for years to come - and set a precendent that may be emulated in other cities.

Following nearly five years of discussions, meetings and workshops, the second reading of an ordinance for the . If passed, the result will be a mixed-use zoning code overlay that is said to certainly reinvigorate and renovate the historic district's Groveway community, which currently deals with several issues, including blight. 

"The Groveway is a win for all," said local resident Adam Braund, a former city council candidate. It "will develop organically rather than some of the more contrived mixed use developments that feel more like an outdoor mall than genuine downtown such as Charleston."

In response to accusations the city has slipped the ordinance onto agendas without first properly vetting it, Roswell Spokesperson Julie Brechbill said, "This project is not being fast tracked. It has gone through a thorough, painstaking process, which began back in 2008 with the city receiving a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to study the area for redevelopment.  From 2008 until today, the city has involved the community and stakeholders from day one."

According to Brechbill, the city has held a two-day charrette with citizens, 17 Groveway stakeholder committee meetings following the charrette and four community meetings.

Because of the way the code is written, it sets a precedent for how to achieve community design through:

  • Frontage types and building design, rather than structure use.
  • Streetscape elements, landscaping and pedestrian areas as crucial building blocks of the community, which serve as the foundation for future development.
  • Regulations presented by district - which are Neighborhood Mixed Use and Neighborhood Residential, in this case - while providing connections between the two to enhance mobility and create a cohesive design theme for the area.

(For specific details of the proposed zoning amendment, see attached PDFs)

But, exactly for its uniqueness, some - including former council members - have expressed concerns about "worst case senarios," lamenting the lack of exactness that is typical of zoning ordinances.

They are concerned the Groveway community - which is the portion of the historic district around Roswell City Hall, bordered by Norcross Street, Atlanta Street and Oxbo Road - could become overrun with five-story buildings, thousands of apartments or turn into another North Point Mall.

"The Groveway project is a mixed-used development which means there will be single family homes, multi-family homes, [which are] apartments/townhomes, [as well as] commercial and retail," said Brechbill. "The maximum number of apartments that could be built in Groveway is 2,800, but realistically that number is not likely to exceed 1,500."

According to the current draft of the code, any five-story buildings approved to go within the community couldn't exceed 100 feet and would be restricted to Atlanta, Oak, Hill, Norcross and Frazier streets. Height on secondary streets would be capped at three stories and not be allowed to exceed 40 feet, according to the ordinance.

"Realistically Groveway will be redeveloped into a community with homes, townhomes, apartments, retail and commercial; a balanced approach," Brechbill said, noting impact fees would have to be paid by developers for increased traffic and use of the area.

Both supporters and opponents of the ordinance are urging residents and stakeholders to attend Monday's city council meeting.

"If you think that this doesn't affect you because it isn't in your neck of the woods, think again," former council member Lori Henry, an opponent of the ordinance, wrote in a mass e-mail that was sent to Roswell Patch.

But the city has said that the Groveway specific zoning overlay code isn't transferable to other areas.

"If other communities in our wonderful city would like to redevelop their areas, a similar process would need to take place," said Brechbill.

City council will meet Monday, April 9 at 7 p.m. in council chambers. To read more about the Groveway project, visit the city's website.

rxdoc97 April 18, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I would say I am in favor of this project. It seems that the community has been working on this for quite some time. Truthfully, I am disappointed that I was not contacted personally as a property owner in the area. I live near Brookhaven and work in Town Brookhaven which is essentially the same concept. This development has brought a new aura to this part of Atlanta/Chamblee. It has taken a past crime ridden area and made it a great place for people to live, play, dine and shop. I would agree that Atlanta Street would require some improvement along with this project especially at Oak St and Atlanta St.

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