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Roswell sued over UDC zoning


Residents allege overreaching, poor process


April 08, 2014
ROSWELL, Ga. After more than a year and a half of work and numerous battles back and forth, Roswell passed its Unified Development Code (UDC) in February, which aimed to rewrite the city's aging zoning codes. Now, the city is being sued over it.

The lawsuit is being brought against the city by three residents. One of the plaintiffs, Eric Schumacher, was a former Roswell City Council candidate and was a vocal critic of the UDC during his campaign. Former Councilwoman Lori Henry and another council candidate, Mike Nyden, round out the trio.

The UDC is a single ("unified") tool that aims to make contemporary development and zoning practices consistent and easily understood by administrators, developers and community members.

However, a vocal portion of the city complained the changes were not only forced upon residents, but that residents were never certain what changes were being made to their properties.

The UDC passed Feb. 24 in a 4-2 vote.

"They brought it because they feel like the way the process went forward was not in accord with the way it should have been done," said Stuart Teague, attorney for the plaintiffs.

The complaint issued to the city alleges the city violated the Open Records Act by failing to release the approved version of the UDC to the public and violated zoning procedure laws and due process.

In particular, the lawsuit contends the city actively kept people from participating in the public process. It claims the city "informed citizens that their rights would not change" when it advertised public meetings, and it encouraged the public "not to participate" in the process and held a "pro-adoption marketing" campaign.

The process clouded the changes the UDC made to zoning laws, Teague said.

"They felt the way the city went about the process discouraged people to show up [for public meetings]," Teague said.

Ultimately, his clients want a re-do, he said.

Roswell does not comment on pending litigation, said Julie Brechbill, spokeswoman for the city.

The city has 30 days to respond to the allegations in the lawsuit.

For more information on the UDC, including previous drafts and upcoming public meetings, visit www.roswellgov.com/udc.

RN 04-10-14

Editor, Milton Herald
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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    UDC Lawsuit
    April 09, 2014 | 12:57 PM

    During the four (4) public hearings conducted by the Wood Administration the city utilized the deceptive Delphi protocols, presenting their case for the UDC and the public was not allowed to ask any questions during these public meetings.

    Then during the first reading of the proposed UDC before Roswell City Council, in what could only have been described as a total breach of parliamentary procedures and past practices, Mayor Wood open the floor to public input without a motion even being presented to Council. Mayor Wood also conducted the public portion of this first reading without presenting Councilwoman Diamond's 50 amendments that were made later that evening.

    Mayor Wood had even advised the entire City Council of his intentions before the meeting was called to order and the Council allowed the meeting to proceed even over my personal "point of order" objection to the violation of routine parliamentary procedures.

    Historically, motions are routinely presented to council which immediately makes additions or corrections in the form of amendments. That procedure occurs long before the matter is presented to the public for their input and final evaluation. This procedure insures that unacceptable amendments cannot be "slipped in" and the public denied the opportunity to respond to such an undesirable tactic.
    However, Mayor Wood proceeded with public input without a motion or any changes in the form of amendments even being presented to City Council for the approval of this universal zoning code.

    ONLY during the final readings held a couple weeks later and prior to the final approval, was the public for the very first time given the opportunity to question or respond to a formal motion before Council.
    At that time individuals were stymied by the Council's 5 minute limitation placed on the public when they step up to the podium.

    Pathetically, even at the final reading the Mayor refused to respond to legitimate questions presented to his administration and City Council.

    The four horsemen of Roswell's UDC apocalypse defeated numerous amendments presented that evening that would have significantly improved the document and they eventually approved the current UDC.


    Lee Fleck
    Roswell
  2. report print email
    UDC Lawsuit
    April 09, 2014 | 04:44 PM

    According to those in opposition to the United Nations Agenda 21, Resist 21 states "The Delphi Technique is being utilized in virtually every community in the United States today. Stakeholder councils go into communities under the guise of receiving input from citizens regarding the "visioning" process of turning their towns into "Sustainable Communities". Concerns of citizens are ignored in favored of preconceived outcomes. People soon discover that private land ownership is jeopardized and their lives are changed immensely as the stakeholders start to take control of their situation." Indeed after a meeting of reading the proposed UDC, the Mayor and Council changed the UDC the Friday before a Monday meeting thus most of the public was not even aware of the changes. The crowded room seemed to support all the folks objecting to the density being proposed. Progress is one thing but having a council dictate to overall changes without much of public outcry is not what our City nor Nation used to be about. I applaud the folks that are fighting back on this issue and urge that others such as major subdivisions BOD get on board with this protest.

    Gay Maloney
    Roswell
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