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Council votes 4-2 in favor of unified development code
by Joan Durbin
January 15, 2014 11:07 AM | 2223 views | 1 1 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After two years, 51 meetings open to the public, 11,000 notices mailed to property owners, inserts in utility bills, 20 signs posted throughout the city, a dedicated web page and comment form, media stories, answering 554 phone calls, 35 emails and innumerable walk-ins with questions on the subject, the Roswell Unified Development Code finally came to council Monday night for the first of two votes on its passage.

Public comment and protracted discussion of more than 50 proposed amendments culminated in a 4-2 vote in favor of the new set of codes that are designed to be more user-friendly.

Kent Igleheart and Betty Price were the dissenters. Both indicated they had numerous questions they wanted answered before they could give their okays.

The next morning, Councilwoman Nancy Diamond said they would get their answers, including the ramifications of any changes to what has already been drafted.

“I’m encouraged that finally people are getting down to their questions. We can’t address their concerns until we hear them,” Diamond said.

She said she hadn’t gotten this level of feedback from those council members prior to Monday night’s first hearing, despite many opportunities at council workshops or through other communications.

“It’s valid to ask questions if you want to, but I don’t know why you can’t ask them before this meeting,” Diamond said.

The second hearing and final vote could come as late as March 10, but the map depicting the zoning districts will be discussed at the Jan. 27 council meeting.

The UDC is the result of ongoing complaints about Roswell’s current zoning code, which has been called “overly burdensome, confusing and sometime prohibitive,” Community Development Director Alice Wakefield told council. Updates over the years have resulted in an overly complicated and confusing set of regulations, she said.

As the code now stands, “it tells you what you can’t do, but it doesn’t tell you what it can do,” Wakefield said.

The purpose of remaking the code is to have development regulations that address contemporary development and redevelopment practices that are easily understood by city staff, city officials, the public and the development community, according to Wakefield.

The newly created regulations address specific areas such as residential districts, commercial districts and office and overlay districts, and protections are in place “so neighborhoods can stay stable and commercial corridors can thrive,” said Lee Einsweiler, the consultant who helped craft the document.

“Is it a perfect document? No. But I think it’s light years ahead of what we currently have,” said Planning Director Brad Townsend.

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