Worried neighbors of a future funeral home believe Sandy Springs will not achieve the "live, work, play" recognition it strives for, but rather a "live, work, die" status.
During the Sept. 18 City Council meeting, Council members approved rezoning for Community Funeral Service at 4579 Roswell Road. A former church building sits at the front of the property [#4577] and Gallery 63 auction house is located at the back of the parking lot.
Neighbors opposed to the rezoning say the funeral home will lower their property values. Auction parking can be seen from many backyards. Residents complained that rezoning means they would see funeral home activities too.
Brooks Cowles, manager of Community Funeral Service, said he would enhance the existing buffer with a dense landscape screening to accommodate residents.
Longtime realtor Mike Hinson lives on Windsor Parkway. ”I’ve never been asked to find a house that backs up to a funeral home. It just does not happen," he said.
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Earlier in the summer, the city planning commission recommended denial on approval of the rezoning. Members did not believe the funeral home or Gallery 63 are in accord with the “live, work” component of the city’s Comprehensive Use Plan, said Patrice Dickerson, manager of planning and zoning, during the City Council meeting.
Councilman Chip Collins said, “Every small town in the south that I’ve been to – in the fanciest part of town…usually in the middle of them, in the fanciest house – is usually a funeral home.”
The real problem to be addressed is adequate parking said Collins and other Council members. Currently there are 84 spaces in the parking lot. The rezoning would increase the lot to 106 spaces.
Additionally, Police Chief Terry Sult said code enforcement and police officers would enforce parking restrictions on the grass and streets, respectively.
Collins agreed, “It’s more a matter of the city enforcing our own laws and ordinances.”
Council members Karen Meinzen McEnerny and Gabriel Sterling see the funeral home as being low impact to the neighborhood.
“I know this is a lot of excitement in this stretch of Roswell Road,” said McEnerny. Plans are in the works to demolish nearby Chastain and Versailles apartments for a mixed use development with luxury apartments.
“We want to make sure we don’t overload the streets with traffic,” McEnerny added. “This is great use of structure. I can commit…to the neighbors that we will enforce our ordinances on that site.”
Cowles said the funeral home would likely serve 150 families per year. Half of those would not involve a public function, he said.