Roswell residents question UDC

Grill council on details, discussion

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ROSWELL, Ga. – The upcoming implementation of Roswell’s Unified Development Code (UDC) had residents riled up at the City Council’s open forum meeting Sept. 30.

The council chambers were filled with residents eager to vent their frustrations about both the process and the changes to the city’s zoning. While the mayor and council largely sat silent and listened, Mayor Jere Wood occasionally clarified issues of contention.

The UDC aims to consolidate the city’s zoning codes that have been cobbled together for the past 40 years, leading to developer and resident confusion over what is allowed.

Many of the resident concerns centered on the fear that zoning that allowed high density could spur greater apartment and transient construction.

Many of the resident concerns centered on the fear that new zoning would allow higher density and could spur greater apartment construction. Rumors and emails have circulated in recent weeks claiming high density homes could be built without going through the normal zoning and public hearing process.

“With this new zoning, I’m quite concerned about Roswell, to the point where my husband and I have considered moving,” said resident Gaye Maloney. “Most people in Roswell do not want to see more apartments here.”

Wood said apartments are only allowed after council approval and public input.

Even those residents who said they understand the need for the UDC still raised concerns both about the speed at which the process was moving and how public input was handled. Some advocated slowing down instead of pressing for an end-of-year approval.

“I was surprised there was no questions-and-answer portion in the meetings,” said Russ DeLuca. “I found this to be very troubling.”

Wood said the document is not finished and that public discussion of an incomplete document is unproductive. There are still four meetings left open to the public, including the Planning Commission where they will recommend a final draft.

Other residents saw promise in the changes.

“Roswell has been developed pretty well and we’re going in the right direction,” said resident Geoff Smith.

“We are trying to resist that urban shift and want to stay a small town,” said Eric Broadwell, adding that many surrounding governments in the metro area have enacted their own UDCs. “Don’t be afraid of the exchange.”

There are four meetings remaining open to the public before the UDC is approved by council.