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ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell has placed a moratorium on conditional-use applications for multi-family housing units for the next 90 days. Only those multi developments with over 75 percent square footage devoted to non-residential uses are exempt.

City Councilman Mike Palermo said the moratorium was established to give the city time to close loopholes in the Unified Development Code.

The vote passed unanimously at the Jan. 27 City Council meeting, but only three council members voted. In a rare move, the remaining three — council members Matt Judy, Matthew Tyser and Marie Willsey — abstained.

Judy said he abstained because consideration of the moratorium did not follow proper channels.

The item had been added to the City Council’s agenda late afternoon on Friday, Jan. 24 by Palermo, Judy said.

Because the item had not gone through a committee first, Judy said he was worried about the transparency of the process.

“This came straight to council,” Judy said. “If I would have brought something five months ago to this council in this manner, I would have been told I was not transparent. This is a huge decision for the City of Roswell.”

He added that the moratorium could be the right tool, but he simple did not know on such short notice.

This is not the first time an item has been added to the agenda without first going through the city’s procedures. At the Jan. 13 City Council meeting, the council members had vote to reinstate unofficial transcriptions of certain city meetings, but the decision went to the City Council before it was brought up for discussion at a committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 14.

When City Council members continued to question the practicalities of reinstating transcriptions for over an hour at the Jan. 13 meeting, Judy said it was a prime example why agenda items should first go to committee. 

This time, Judy chose to abstain from the vote until the item went through the proper channels.

“This is not transparent,” he said. “People will hear this is a moratorium. They won’t hear it’s a moratorium for 90 days… This is something that’s going to be judged in the court of public opinion, not necessarily on the facts. Voting on this this evening is irresponsible and not transparent.”

Palermo said he wants the city to use the 90-day moratorium to improve the city’s code. Some of the problems it could potentially address is the lack of redevelopment and density.

“The purpose of a moratorium is to ensure that we have the best code that’s going to bring this city forward,” Palermo said. “If we do not have a moratorium, then what that means is basically… developers could put in an application under the current code and therefore the improvements to the code would not impact them.” 

The city currently has no pending multi-family applications, according to Community Development Director Alice Wakefield.

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