Roswell moves to stop new stand-alone apartment complexes

New apartments would have to be part of mixed-use projects

Roswell has ordered a 90-day moratorium on apartment complexes and may make the change permanent.

The city’s long-term goal is to attract mixed-use development and no longer allow developers to build stand-alone multi-family communities in Roswell.

City Council approved the measure during a Monday meeting to give officials time to make residential zoning changes to the Unified Development Code.

The moratorium would not allow conditional use applications for new apartments unless they’re within a mixed-use project with 75% non-residential space. It’s the second apartments moratorium issued by the city in two years. A six-month moratorium was in place in 2020.

Elected officials and city staff have been seeking ways to attract mixed-use developers to the Holcomb Bridge Road area and the east side of Roswell.

“The council has a very clear direction in that they are not interested in building high-density stand-alone apartments in the corridors,” Mayor Kurt Wilson said during the meeting.

During public comment, council members were criticized by residents who say the city is making housing more unaffordable and pricing out a segment of the Roswell community.

East Roswell resident Elizabeth Goldsmith, who has been a Fulton County school teacher for 26 years, said the city is already losing middle-income earners including teachers who can’t afford to live in Roswell.

“I really am concerned about the message that council and the mayor ... are sending to people that don’t live in ... single-family zones, and that you are trying to limit ... access to our city, which is their city (too),” she said.

Councilwoman Christine Hall told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she recognizes housing affordability is a national problem and that her own adult child resides outside of the city because it’s more affordable.

While it’s common to have luxury residential living in commercial mixed-use developments, Hall said she believes some builders might include workforce housing in their residential plans.

“I look at it as a win-win for multifamily and commercial,” she said.

If Roswell later decides to permanently stop conditional use zoning for stand-alone multi-family housing, a builder could still submit an application and council would consider it, the officials have said.

But residents were doubtful.

During the Monday meeting, resident Marla Cureton told mayor and council she believes the city has an “oppressive negative stereotyping” view of those who live in apartments.

“It is known that many of you in front of me believe that apartments and apartment dwellers represent a stain on Roswell,” she said. “We need that to change ... stop marginalizing a large portion of the Roswell community because they feel it.”

Wilson pointed out that while apartments aren’t part of the city’s long-term growth, there are numerous stand-alone apartment communities around Roswell.

“Just because we don’t want to add more doesn’t mean we are bad people,” Wilson said.