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January 15, 2014ROSWELL, Ga. Roswell's Unified Development Code (UDC) is moving forward after the City Council approved the first presentation of the code at their Jan. 13 meeting in a 4-2 vote.
The city has worked on updating its aging zoning code for more than a year.
The UDC aims to simplify zoning codes so both developers and residents know what is expected of them. Roswell made the decision to update its zoning, which had been cobbled together over 40 years and multiple annexations of new land.
"We have overly burdensome, confusing and sometimes prohibitive zoning ordinances," said Roswell Community Development Director Alice Wakefield. "[The zoning code] clearly tells you what you can't do, but not a lot about what you can do."
Wakefield said the goal of the code is to unify all of the development regulations to address contemporary trends and practices that are easily understandable by developers, citizens and staff.
And for the past 18 months, the city has done just that.
"This is an attempt to provide people with the majority of the information as simply as possible," said Lee Einseiler of Code Studios, the consultants who helped the city with the new code. "There are lots of pictures and diagrams and simple terminology."
The idea is, instead of saying what cannot be built, focus on what is possible and what that should look like.
Detractors say the process has moved too quickly and not enough time has been given to review for errors or impacts. The city's zoning maps are changing, being compiled into one, which can lead to problems and oversights. At least one property at Monday's meeting was improperly zoned on the new map.
Former candidate for council Eric Schumacher questioned why he should be able to build a detached garage on his property now, but under the UDC, he would not be. He argued that, despite city assurances, he and other landowners would be restricted on what he could use his land for under UDC rules.
"I want to be sure I can do the same with my property under the UDC as I can today," Schumacher said.
Mayor Jere Wood said some changes were necessary.
"Why am I passing this if it has no effect? It will have an effect," Wood said. "It will make things simpler and clearer."
The motion was made for approval of the new code, and it passed in a 4-2 vote, with Councilmembers Betty Price and Kent Igleheart opposed.
"I think we've made a lot of progress over the last month and made some good adjustments," said Councilmember Rich Dippolito, who voted for the item. "It's in good shape, but there are still a few issues we need to discuss."
In the next few weeks, the council will hold work sessions to hammer out changes and updates with a final approval and adoption of the UDC to be Feb. 10.
The city's website has a special page for the UDC. Go to www.roswellgov.com/udc for maps, to ask questions and find more information.
Editor, Milton Herald