Still a work in progress, Roswell staff and city officials have solicited citizen input as the UDC document moves through multiple levels of discussion and editing.
Eric Schumacher, who is challenging city council incumbent Jerry Orlans for the Post 5 seat, sees the UDC as one of the major issues facing the city. Orlans, he said, has failed to make clear what his opinion is on the subject.
“Public officials owe it to the citizens to take, and to publicize their positions. My opponent has some ‘vision’ statements, but I think the problem he has is that people really don't know where he actually stands on the issues,” Schumacher said.
“Where does my opponent stand on the UDC? What has he done to address the risks? I believe Roswell residents are looking for active and decisive leadership during the inception and development of items like the UDC.”
For his part, Orlans questions Schumacher’s understanding of the UDC process.“Regarding the UDC, It seems he hears an item being discussed and takes it as ‘fact’ when it’s quite the opposite,” Orlans said.
“Over the years, the council’s approach has been to have discussions and gain citizen involvement in order to make adjustments as Roswell advances. He doesn’t seem to understand that many discussions with Roswell citizens are what it takes to make an informed, positive decision that moves Roswell forward.
Schumacher believes council members must be fully engaged with the community they serve. “The council should respect and place a greater importance on voice of the people that live, work and do business in Roswell,” he said.
Orlans said he created and operates his business in Roswell, enabling him to be involved in the community and accessible to citizens.
“It has helped keep a continuous dialogue with the people,” he said. “This dialogue has proven over and over that the residents want to continue to live in a town that offers a small-town atmosphere while offering all of the necessary conveniences. This atmosphere is what originally drew me to Roswell and it’s my desire to see it continue.”
Name: Eric Schumacher
Length of residency: 4-plus years
Facebook: EricForRoswell (in the works)
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.
Unified Development Code: This initiative has morphed into an effort poised to make radical and controversial sweeping changes to our community in the form of significant increases in density, apartments, taller and larger buildings and decreases in open spaces.
It would be irresponsible for the current council to vote on the UDC in 2013 due to criticality, the massive scale of document and the recent inclusion of an effort to up-zone and rezone hundreds of individual properties in Roswell under the umbrella of the UDC.
Traffic and Transportation: Everyone I have talked with places traffic and congestion near the top of their list of problems in Roswell. Nobody likes to sit in traffic and it’s only getting worse.
In order to successfully stimulate redevelopment of our run-down retail areas, many long standing and ignored traffic flow issues must be addressed.
Spending and Efficiency: The new water plant and the North Fulton Regional Radio System Authority are examples of where we are spending more than we need and sometimes double spending tax dollars. There has not been any serious consideration or focus on the reduction of spending.
By applying more business principles to the operations of the city and improving the implementation and use of Information Technology and business processes, we can cut costs and offer high quality government and services to the people of Roswell. Let's do more and spend less. Let's run it like a business.
What do you think council can do that would have an effect on any of these issues?
The council should be more engaged and transparent. The council should respect and place a greater importance on voice of the people that live, work and do business in Roswell.
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?
Recently several Roswell residents living in neighborhoods east of 400 told me they felt that the city wasn't giving East Roswell the same focus, the same investment, the same priority as other parts of Roswell.
I've personally noticed in conversations with city staff that when they say Roswell, they are actually thinking the area around city hall. This can and should change. Roswell is much bigger than what can be seen from city hall.
Name: Jerry Orlans
Residency: since 1985
What do you think will be the three most important issues facing the council in the first two years of the next elected term?
Redevelopment is on the rise.
We have created the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the Roswell Business Alliance (RBA) as tools for promoting economic development which in turn helps redevelopment.
We received state approval to set up certain opportunity zones in the city to attract new jobs. These zones offer state tax incentives for businesses to bring new jobs to Roswell. These initiatives are starting to have an effect on redevelopment such as ‘GM’ bringing over 1000 jobs to the old Herman Miller plant on Mansell Road.
We hope to use this momentum to carry over to unused shopping centers and older apartment complexes to help with their redevelopment, while protecting our quality of life issues.
We need to continue to be a financially stable city to meet our future demands and needs. Roswell is one of the few cities in the country with a AAA bond rating. Because of this, we are paying 1.53 percent interest rate on the recent bond package the voters approved last year, which is one of the lowest rates I have seen. We have reduced the millage rate four times since I was first elected.
Costs continue to go up and we need to be diligent and proactive in controlling the budget to keep a consistent millage rate. Any new initiatives need to be worked into the budget process along with ongoing issues.
We are moving forward with our transportation plans. We have put together some great plans for our Holcomb Bridge/400 corridor and the Hwy 9 corridor, south from the square to the river. We need to move forward on the designs and studies so that they are ready to go as soon as funding is available. These two projects alone will greatly assist the traffic flow for Roswell’s citizens.
In addition, we are looking at other ways to assist traffic flow through connectivity and additional roundabouts.
What do you think council can do that would have an effect on any of these issues?
Council will continue to play a key role in all of these issues going forward. We need to keep our city financially strong. We need to constantly look for ways to improve the ability to move around the city; be it by walking, jogging, bicycling or driving.
The council needs to encourage redevelopment in the areas that are needed. While we have strong neighborhoods and subdivisions, there is a need to improve certain commercial areas of the city. We need to continue some of the new programs we have already started (RBA and DDA) and look for more innovative options in the future.
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?
No, I don’t think the city or council has been divisive. As a council member, we represent the entire city and make decisions about what is best for the city as a whole.
Each area has its own issues but overall we address service issues across the city. Protecting neighborhoods and quality of life is a citywide goal.
Every city may have an “east side, west side, north side or south side”. So we have a natural east and west side. It shouldn’t be divisive, just a geographic orientation.
We have unique areas with unique needs. For example, tourism within our historic area produces revenue for the city, so the promotion of tourism is beneficial. Then we have our strong neighborhoods spread throughout the city that demand quality city services be provided.
Separately we have the commercial areas, some inherited from Fulton County, that provide other unique challenges.