Roswell residents turn out en masse to protest new development

Mike Hartley, North Point resident, pointed to property plans from 1979 at a Roswell Planning  Commission meeting. He opposes a proposed development in the neighborhood.

Mike Hartley, North Point resident, pointed to property plans from 1979 at a Roswell Planning  Commission meeting. He opposes a proposed development in the neighborhood.

When the Roswell Planning Commission chair asked if anyone would like to speak in favor of the proposed project, no one stood.

She posed the inverse question, and Mike Hartley was at the podium in seconds, clutching a scroll.

The commission was reviewing preliminary plans from Roswell's Greyden Engineering to develop single-family residential homes on about 20 acres inside the North Point neighborhood.

If approved, eighteen new lots would be designated on land that already includes an existing lot and a home on Ridgefield Drive.

The community with more than 200 homes in it only has one entrance from the main road.

The entrance into the new development would begin in an existing cul-de-sac in the neighborhood, creating a subdivision within a subdivision.

About 50 neighbors showed up to the meeting Tuesday to oppose the plan. Their concerns included density, congestion and that the development wouldn’t be in line with the character of the established neighborhood.

Their opposition was enough to get planning commissioners to delay a vote.

Hartley, the man with the scroll, said he and his wife plowed their life savings into building a home on Ridgefield Drive in the neighborhood nearly 40 years ago.

At that time, the neighborhood was about 90 percent built out when the developer went belly-up and Peachtree Bank took over. The bank gave him a copy of the plat in 1979 showing there was never supposed to be more than three lots on the property southwest of him, Hartley said. That was key in the decision to buy his home.

“Now I’m not an attorney, and I hope I don’t need to get one involved, but changing the game at this late stage sounds to me very much like breach of contract,” he said.

(City planning officials said approving the plans for the new development would be legal.)

Eight people spoke against the plan, with one Ridgefield Drive resident arguing it would cram 18 homes on only 13 acres.

He proposed the city look at the aesthetics of the existing neighborhood, “which is more of one house per one acre,” and reduce the size of the development.

But reducing the size wouldn’t work financially, a representative with the engineering firm said.

Greyden Engineering presented plans to develop land in the North Point subdivision at a meeting in Roswell. 

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When presenting the plans, Greyden engineer Ralph Davia called it a “straightforward subdivision.” Before the meeting, the city’s community development department recommended the plan be approved.

But after hearing public comment, Vice Chair Chris Foley suggested any decisions be deferred until the next meeting, saying the present plans seemed like a “violation of spirit” from what was originally intended for the property.

Tuesday’s meeting was one of the most well attended for a discussion involving preliminary development plans.

The high interest is likely due to the fact that the few remaining pieces of property left to develop in Roswell are in someone’s backyard, Planning and Zoning Director Brad Townsend told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The next planning meeting is set for March 21 at 7 p.m.