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Diamond, Cox vie for Roswell Post 6 council seat
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@neighbornewspapers.com
September 25, 2013 01:23 PM | 1901 views | 1 1 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Any significant differences between incumbent Nancy Diamond and her opponent, Kendra Cox, in the Roswell City Council Post 6 race may boil down to their opinion of the Unified Development Code, or UDC, currently in development stage.

Responding to a question about important issues in this campaign, Cox said “the answer could be, UDC, UDC, UDC, because all other critical issues fall out from this massive re-working of the way our city approaches zoning and its effects on our quality of life.”

In its current form, Cox said, the UDC “does not preserve and enhance the things that are important to Roswell residents and small businesses. It does not address infrastructure or density. As of this writing, apartments will be conditionally allowed in nine zoning categories. Density is unlimited in new form-based zoning, including our historic district and downtown.”

Diamond, who as the council’s community development liaison has been involved in helping to shape the proposed document, said Cox doesn’t appear to have all the facts.

“She seems to have some misconceptions about the UDC, much of which may be corrected when she reads updated drafts,” Diamond said. “This is a very long and public process and the document is being refined with every work session.”

Diamond said Cox appears to believe that the UDC will somehow drive the zoning process.

“To the contrary, it is a tool created to allow the comprehensive plan to go forward,” Diamond said.

Diamond, who was first elected in 2009, was asked what she felt were three of the most important for the next two years. In addition to the UDC, she cited the replacement of the old fire station on Holcomb Bridge Road and integrating requirements of the new health care regulations with the needs of the city budget and staff requirements.

Cox, who also singled out the UDC, chose redevelopment and revitalization of the city’s vacant or rundown structures as well as improved communication between city government and citizens as her two areas of importance.

Candidate Q&A

Name: Nancy Diamond

Address: 105 Ashbrook Lane

Length of residency in Roswell: 29 years

Email: diamondforroswell@gmail.com or ndiamondroswell@gmail.com

Website: www.diamond forroswell.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-Diamond-For-Roswell/125713803784

Age: 50

Family members: Husband Glenn, daughters Jessica and Ashley, son-in-law Daniel



Q: What do you think will be the three most important issues facing the council in the first two years of the next elected term? Briefly explain why you chose these three.

A: There are so many things going on at any given time, it’s really hard to pick just three.

1. Relocation of Fire Station: Council has committed to replacing aging Fire Station No. 4. It’s overdue and now bond funding is attached to this project so the clock is ticking. With concern about using park property, we have been pursuing private property. As a result, site determination has not happened as quickly as anyone had hoped, but the commitment is there and we will find have to find a solution.

2. Unified Development Code: This cleanup of our code and zoning is an important tool to making us more efficient and removing the roadblocks that keep our aging and empty properties from improving. It will also give our boards and commissions more clear direction in making recommendations about any new projects.

3. Budgeting and staffing in the era of the new health care regulations: We have traditionally had a lot of part-time employees, which may become a challenging model as the full extent of the rules become clear. Keeping our premiums at a manageable level is more difficult each year, but having quality benefits is critical to attract and keep good people. As our experienced Baby Boomers retire, this is becoming even more important.

Q: What do you think council can do that would have an effect on any of these issues?

A: 1. Negotiations continue for a fire station location. Council will need to approve a final agreement and start the design and construction process.

2. It’s our job to make sure we have vetted each part of the UDC draft and taken into account the input from a wide variety of viewpoints. We also need to create a system for more regular communication between our boards and mayor and council so trends and issues are discussed and addressed in a timely manner. We intentionally bring different points of view into our process. Having spirited discussion and/or finding common ground on a regular basis will make us stronger and better when decisions are made.

3. There are many issues involved, and few are simple to solve. We will need to listen to the experts we have, as well as continue to educate ourselves to stay updated on best practice solutions around the country.

Q: What in your background/experience will enable you to tackle these issues? Why are you qualified to take them on?

A: 1. My first two years on council, I served as liaison to the fire and police departments. I have a clear understanding of what is needed and where the road blocks exist. As we are nearing the point where virtually every property in the area has been evaluated and discussed, the limited options will soon be clear.

2. For more than four years, I have spent considerable time listening and talking with members of our boards and commissions as well as hundreds of other citizens and business owners. I was fortunate to be selected to attend the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. This program was an excellent opportunity to learn from other cities and gain new resources for information and research. As liaison to the community development department, I facilitate discussions between stakeholder groups and mayor and council to discuss and define our shared vision for Roswell. We are on a very positive path.

3. As a member of the Governing Board for North Fulton Hospital, I have had the opportunity to attend training sessions with experts who have been involved in different segments of the new health care regulations as they have developed. Doctors, along with finance, administrative and human resource departments all play a part in the decisions that need to be made.



Q: Do you think there is any favoritism shown by the city to residents in east or west Roswell? Do you think council or city policies have been divisive?

A: As a council member, I have not seen any effort to benefit one side of town over another. In looking at the most recent bond project list, the bulk of the funding goes to projects on the east side. On the other hand, because Roswell’s downtown as defined by the state is on the west side, grant funding has been available to develop some plans for those areas, which has created actions that haven’t been available to the east side.

I do think there is more of an appetite for redevelopment in some areas of town than others. But overall, I think there is a recognition that Roswell has a variety of character areas, such as farms to the north and the river corridor to the south, more intense commercial areas on the west side of Ga. Hwy 92 and more green areas along this corridor on Holcomb Bridge to the east.

Name: Kendra Myers Cox

Address: 250 Meadowood Drive

Length of residency in Roswell: 1981 to 1996 and 2010 to present.

Email: kendra.cox.for.council@gmail.com

Website: www.kendra myerscox.com

Facebook: www.facebookcom/kendramyerscox

Age: 39

Profession: Scientific and technical writer/editor

Family members: Husband James, daughter Jamie, two step-daughters

Q: What do you think will be the three most important issues facing the council in the first two years of the next elected term? Briefly explain why you chose these three.

A: 1 – Unified Development Code

The UDC brings much-needed clarity to Roswell’s zoning. However, in its aim to streamline zoning processes, it leads to unprecedented density and unchecked development with no clear strategy to bolster our infrastructure.

Our zoning must align with our best interests, encouraging creative growth without sacrificing our city’s character. The UDC should be pro-resident, pro-community, pro-small business and pro-Roswell so that we can continue to grow in targeted ways, focusing on our problem areas while remaining true to our strong neighborhoods and entrepreneurial spirit.

2. Redevelopment / Revitalization

Roswell needs to revitalize areas that have been neglected and that stand empty. Canton Street is a great example of adaptive reuse of existing structures. We may not be able to clone it, but we can learn from it and encourage similar efforts in other areas. Canton Street succeeded because local businesses took chances on it; it continues to succeed because these entrepreneurs work together to create and sustain momentum.

The city should encourage innovation from the brilliant, daring minds behind our local businesses while ensuring that the unique aspects of Roswell life are preserved – and then get out of the way and let them do their work.

3. Communication

Roswell must become more open and transparent. There’s an unfortunate sense among residents that we are unwanted and unwelcome in our government, as if we’re getting in the way. Your government’s job is to work for you and with you, not at you or around you.

Several City departments identify “communication” as an opportunity and a challenge for the next fiscal year. Communication is more than posting on a website or taping a piece of paper up at City Hall. True community engagement is built on respect, trust, and diligent outreach. There are structures and rules that serve to foster understanding, not to silence and demean.

Q: What do you think council can do that would have an effect on any of these issues?

A: Council can demand a closer look at the UDC. Is it doing what it should do, fixing what’s broken about Roswell’s approach to zoning, or is it a well-intentioned, but misguided and short-sighted effort that will ultimately degrade our quality of life?

Council can ensure that the UDC hones in on revitalizing our run-down and underutilized areas so that we maximize our existing assets and preserve the aspects of Roswell that make our town special and unique.

Council can insist on a system of real, honest, open public input, as opposed to “informational meetings” which not only discourage open discussion, but restrict or even forbid it.

Q: What in your background/experience will enable you to tackle these issues? Why are you qualified to take them on?

A: My long history in Roswell gives me a unique perspective on these issues. I didn’t just grow up here, I paid attention. My family chose to settle in Roswell, and we are invested in the city’s long-term health.

I bring experience in community engagement. As the community liaison for an architecture firm, I worked with city and county governments, community members, developers, and others to build consensus. When we were hired to make improvements to city schools, I ran community meetings to collect a range of sometimes-opposing views.

I learned the valuable lesson that hearing as many voices as possible, doing your homework, and keeping strong priorities front-of-mind sets the stage for good decision-making.

Q: Do you think there is any favoritism shone by the city to residents in east or west Roswell? Do you think council or city policies have been divisive?

A: I grew up on the west side, and my high school job was on the east side. I remember driving “all the way across Holcomb Bridge” as if Ga. 400 were a canyon!

I don’t think that policies have been intentionally divisive; however, I do think that despite the east side’s exceptional parks and trails and connection to the Chattahoochee River, it gets forgotten in the excitement about Canton Street and the Historic District.

The “east siders” that I’ve met are extremely engaged and committed to preserving their neighborhoods, parks, and quality of life. They should be supported. Roswell is a wonderful city because of our strong sense of place and community.



Comments
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Bob R,
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October 16, 2013
Roswell can no longer afford the cost of a Diamond. She voted to approve the NFRRSA communication system which duplicates the new County system (that corrects current problems). The NFRRSA system provides no additional public safety benefit at a cost of millions of dollars upfront and triple the annual costs for years to come. She also voted to place a 350 foot tower next to a park and subdivision even though the search for suitable alternatives was spotty at best. The other two council members running for re-election voted no.
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