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January 30, 2014ROSWELL, Ga. A zoning map to accompany the Jan. 13 initial approval of the controversial Unified Development Code (UDC) was approved by the Roswell City Council Jan. 27.
The city's aging zoning codes have been cobbled together over 40 years. Whole portions of Roswell had the vague "Fulton County Annex" zoning, from when the city absorbed portions of unincorporated Fulton County. Under this zoning, both commercial and residential areas were grouped together.
Many other cities use UDCs, which aim to be a simple, clean and visual guide to what is allowed on a property. Along with the definitions and rules, the city had to approve a map detailing the zoning of every parcel of land in the city's boundaries.
Proponents say the new rules will simplify the city's code, making it user-friendly for both developers and residents. Opponents say it rezones sections of the city arbitrarily and opens the door to higher-density development.
"We wanted to clean up inconsistencies on the map," said Roswell Planning Director Brad Townsend.
The goal was to update the city's zoning map without changing the allowed uses for the properties. Despite this intention, the map considered Monday night had instances where properties were incorrectly or seemingly arbitrarily changed.
In order to approve the map, council and staff had to correct it during the meeting.
"I can't believe we are doing these things on the fly," said Councilwoman Betty Price.
Councilman Kent Igleheart agreed.
"I understand moving forward, and that's great. But we are not going to be ready for this in two weeks," said Igleheart. "It's unconscionable to move forward without getting these things secured."
Mayor Jere Wood agreed, noting that so many changes would be unacceptable when the UDC is brought forward for its final reading next month.
The UDC zoning map passed in a 4-2 vote, with Price and Igleheart opposed.
The next meeting on the UDC is a work session Jan. 29 at 5 p.m. in room 220 in Roswell's City Hall. The second and final reading of the UDC and its accompanying map is Feb. 10 at the regular council meeting.
Editor, Milton Herald