Eight years ago, I supported the effort to protect our neighborhoods by opposing the “Charlie Brown” proposal. I still agree with the community that the proposed project was too dense and too tall. From the information I have seen, the recently proposed Riverwalk project is even larger than its predecessor in several areas. The proposal has fewer residential units but more commercial and office space, and includes a private school with ball fields. The proposal is also many times larger than the highly touted Avalon project in Alpharetta. Based on the information I saw in early fall 2015, the proposal has nearly five times the amount of multi-family currently at Avalon and almost 10 times the amount of current office space. The most telling statistic, however, is the comparison between the Riverwalk proposal and the existing zoning. The proposal has more than three times the amount of zoned residential units, and more than 5 times the amount of zoned retail space.
Equally important, the project does not conform to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan that our residents worked so hard to create. Of particular interest to nearby residents was the desire to respect the scale of the surrounding properties by limiting building heights. Along Old Alabama Road building heights were limited to three stories with heights increasing closer to GA 400. The current proposal has buildings starting at eight stories along Old Alabama Road and increasing to ten stories at GA 400.
There is no question that we all want something special to be built on this property. The absence of detail in the current proposal creates many more questions than it answers. A proposal for a project of this magnitude should provide consistency with the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, a clear explanation of housing types, a clear explanation of phasing including a mix of uses, and a comprehensive transportation solution for the area. The most recent traffic study shows 26,978 new vehicle trips per day. Due to the complexity of the project, it must be designed and developed by a developer with a proven track record in similar projects. Lastly, given the impact to the community it requires significant input, study and collaboration between the city, the developer and the residents.
I agree with the concerns I have been hearing from residents about the rezoning on Chaffin and Hembree Roads. I also am opposed to placing high density residential in low density neighborhoods. We need to protect our existing neighborhoods by being diligent that new developments are compatible with the surrounding area. The Chaffin/Hembree neighborhood currently consists entirely of large lots with a few churches near the perimeter. The introduction of much smaller homes on much smaller lots would dramatically alter the character of the area. Having driven down Chaffin and Hembree Road hundreds of times myself, I understand why the community wants to maintain the look and feel of the neighborhood. New developments should enhance, not disrupt, the fabric of our existing neighborhoods. While legal requirements prevent me from stating how I will definitely vote on any zoning proposal before it is presented to City Council (I have been advised by City Attorneys that it not only unwise but also illegal), I felt it was important for me to share with you my perspective.
I have recently seen emails implying that a vote to approve the City’s new zoning code (UDC) is a predetermined vote to approve specific zoning requests. This is a misperception. One aspect of my support to adopt the UDC was to make the zoning code more conducive for neighbors, the community, and property owners to understand and be informed of both the zoning requests in their area and their own property rights.I support continuous improvement in the City’s general zoning framework to empower neighborhood advocates and to increase community involvement. As my recent vote to deny the higher density proposal of Vickers Village at the corner of Canton Street and Woodstock Road clearly illustrates, I thoroughly and discerningly evaluate each zoning request that comes before the City Council.
Over the past year I have advocated for Martin’s Landing to receive the maximum reimbursement allowed under the Lakes and Ponds Partnership Program for the Martin Lake water quality and dredging project. I have also spent numerous hours with City Staff and members of the Martin’s Landing Board discussing and researching other potential funding options. The Martin’s Landing Foundation Lakes and Ponds Committee has done a tremendous job restoring Martin Lake. The benefits to the Martin’s Landing community, to the storm water system, and to water quality are significant and are to be commended. I look forward to assisting Martin’s Landing in bringing this item to a positive conclusion and celebrating this important environmental project with the Martin's Landing community.
I believe that all governments should be required to balance their budgets, and that budgeting should be accomplished through fiscally conservative principles. I believe that we should look closely at every line item in the budget, carefully consider the needs of our City, look for efficiencies, and reduce spending wherever possible. During my tenure on City Council we reduced the millage rate and reduced the number of city employees. Because of this conservative approach, Roswell has emerged from the worst recession since the Great Depression in excellent financial health. It’s important to note that Georgia State Law O.C.G.A. 36-81-3(b)(1) requires local government to have balanced budgets, making deficit budgets illegal.
I believe in transparent government. Currently the City of Roswell makes sure that Council meetings are clearly advertised on a timely basis to give our residents the opportunity to observe and to participate in their local government. We recognize however that people's schedules do not always allow them to make the trip to City Hall. To make meetings more accessible, we have installed video equipment in the Council Chambers and make the videos available on the Internet. I hope this added convenience will enable more of our residents to become involved in the governing of our City.
Roswell is financially healthy. Since I have served on Council, there has been an average operating fund surplus of $4.3 million at the end of each fiscal year. (Source: City of Roswell Strategic Planning & Budgeting Office). Currently, there is approximately $6.5 million available for investment in our city’s infrastructure and capital projects above the emergency reserve. Roswell is one of four Georgia cities with a AAA bond rating. This rating is an indication of confidence in our present and future financial strength.
The re-establishment of Milton County is important for the future success of Roswell, North Fulton, South Fulton and the City of Atlanta. It is clear that inefficiencies in the current Fulton County government are significant. The per capita cost of services for Fulton County are 14% higher than Dekalb County and 56% higher than both Gwinnett and Cobb counties. Recent attempts to reform Fulton County have resulted in minor changes, however there is still significant work to be done. The taxpayers of Roswell and its sister cities in North Fulton should not be subjected to a poorly functioning, inefficient government. It's time for Milton County.