Several Unified Development Code changes regarding apartments passed their second readings during the July 13 council meeting. 

During their first in-person meeting since March, Roswell city council members approved multiple UDC changes regarding where and how apartments and stacked flats can be built. These amendments to UDC guidelines were approved at their second reading, so council members will revisit the changes again soon. 

The first proposed UDC change is that walk-up flats and stacked flats — apartment buildings — will no longer be allowed on commercial corridor and mixed used zone "properties located within the Holcomb Bridge Road/GA 140 character area and the GA 400/Holcomb Bridge Node character area."

According to Planning and Zoning Director Jackie Deibel, if there is any type of redevelopment in the GA 400 node, the only type of multi-family building allowed would have to be mixed use. 

Council member Mike Palermo said the proposed amendment came about due to "a strong desire to build destinations and have a zoning code that encourages and creates more opportunity for walkability and that comes from a couple of perspectives."

"As Roswell has been approving a lot of apartments the last few years, Alpharetta has had a number of apartments go in as well," Palermo said. "What we certainly see and hear from a lot of residents is that Alpharetta has been really effective in creating walkable communities. They've created true mixed use where there's really live, work and play."

Palermo mentioned the Target property project as a way to balance the east and west sides of Roswell. However, his comparison was met with resistance from council member Matt Judy. Judy said that by passing this amendment, council is taking away housing opportunities from Roswell residents. 

"If we wanted to balance the sides of east and west, I would be open to  to looking at adding this type of opportunity to the west side as well, more than I would be than taking away the right opportunity for the right developments to come into a possible place that is in need of redevelopment," Judy said.  

Judy added that this amendment deals with conditional use zoning, which has to be voted on by council.

"You have to go though a pretty in depth process when it comes to getting stacked flats approved," Judy said. "Taking this away in one of our major corridor areas is very concerning. I would also say that since this was brought to us in February, since then we have seen no new data, no new studies, no new examples, no new economic impact analysis — no new anything about what this change would do to its residents."

"It puts a stranglehold on our ability to have housing choice," council member Matthew Tyser said. "Whether you're rich, poor, old or young, housing choice is important for the health of a community."

Marcelo Zapata, Palermo, Christine Hall and Mayor Lori Henry approved the motion. 

Council member also approved the second reading of a motion that restricts multi-family units from the first floor of Mixed-Use Developments. Residential units can only be located above the first floor of mixed-use developments.

Council also approved that mixed-use developments should be 52% commercial and retail use and 49% residential. Roswell city council previously approved that mixed-use developments should be 75% retail or commercial and 25% residential, according to Deibel, staff was unable to find any data on mixed-use developments that have 75% retail and commercial space anywhere in the country. 

"There is nowhere where we ever saw 75 percent," Deibel said. "The largest one that we saw had 50%. We found areas that had a mixed of 20, 25, 30, 45 percent. We have different sections that indict what commercial and multifamily could be."

Per councils motion, developer will also no longer be able to submit requests for variances require proof of hardship that relates to land, property and question. 

All of these UDC changes were approved in their second reading. 

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