Roswell city council members on Monday appeared less than enthusiastic about an application for conditional use zoning on three parcels of land on Alpharetta Street to allow Roswell Auto Imports to relocate there.
“It would be dicey to get approval tonight, as I see it,” Councilwoman Betty Price told applicant Ramin Roohi and his representative, attorney Don Rolader.
“We have been very specific about how we want that area redeveloped and the message this would send on how we redevelop in the core of the city is pushing it,” said Councilwoman Nancy Diamond.
Rouhi has been in the import auto sales business in Roswell for 16 years on Alpharetta Street, but is losing his property to the Fulton County school system to make way for a new elementary school.
School system officials told him they would assist him in finding a new site, Rolader said. The three pieces of land at 10469, 10471 and 10473 Alpharetta Street are three-tenths of a mile south and were identified to keep Rouhi’s business in the same locale.
The property is zoned commercial, but auto sales is a conditional use in the zoning that must be approved by council.
Rolader said including Rouhi’s business, there are now 11 used car sales lots within a half mile on that stretch of road.
“This is not increasing that number but replacing one,” Rolader said.
There are three vacant buildings on the parcels under contract, two of which formerly were fast food eateries. Rouhi proposed to demolish two and keep one for an office and a two-car service bay.
But Rouhi said he didn’t want to use all of the 1.27 acres he has to buy to create a business the same size as his current one, which occupies .75 acres.
He said he hopes to sell the remainder within a month, but if that doesn’t happen, finances would force him to ask to expand the conditional zoning to increase the sales lot size. If that happened, Rouhi would have to bring an entirely new site plan to council for approval.
And that heightened some council members’ concerns. They agreed to defer voting on the conditional use request for a month, giving time for Rouhi to reconsider how to make use of the land.
“I understand this would be a net zero for used car lots on the street, but I think that whole scale would be hard to swallow,” Price said.
The newly passed Unified Development Code does not take effect until June 1, which means Rouhi’s application is being evaluated using existing rules.