Roswell sued over UDC zoning

Residents allege overreaching, poor process

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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