Be Afraid.. Be Very Afraid

The witching month is upon us and some local ghouls, pundits and politicians would have you believe that one of the most terrifying moments in Roswell’s history is looming.  They will have you believe the Unified Development Code (UDC) will cast a shadow of doom over our great city that will be wrought by our current crooked city council and their greedy developer cronies.  These oracles will try to convince you, the naive and credulous, that this new code will usher in smothering density, rampant apartments, skyrocketing crime, soaring infrastructure costs, high-rise buildings, dysfunctional schools, choking traffic and the most ghastly of all...  URBANISM!!!

The UDC does allow for increased density and apartments in certain areas.  Will it be smothering? Is Vickery Village in Cumming a smothering Place?  Are the Providence Townhomes on Canton St smothering?  How about the Bricks and Founders Mill?  What about Liberty Lofts?  I guess they’re right.  Density is unbearable.

Some local examples of Unbearable Density. Clockwise from top left; The Bricks, Founders Mill, Vickery Village, Providence

What about the apartments?  Our current apartment complexes are unmitigated disasters.   Most were not well designed, poorly maintained and thoughtlessly located.  They segregated residents by class and effectively created billboards of indigence.  Lessons have been learned, just take a look at the Canton City Walk plans.  We need new, well-designed apartments like these.

The latest renderings of Canton City Walk illustrate the power of a quality architectural scheme coupled with walkability.

Will we see skyrocketing crime? I have faith in the men and women in law enforcement here in Roswell and the laws we have in place to prevent criminal activity.  It’s just not going to happen.

Infrastructure Costs will soar. Hmm.. Developers pay a lot of infrastructure costs up front and a tighter development pattern reduces infrastructure maintenance costs.  The alternative is to continue a sprawl pattern of development which has proven to cost more to maintain in the long run.  

Evaluation of Urban Residential vs Suburban Residential development in Sarasota, FL. image: Urban3

They’re bringing high-rises.  It’s the ghost of Charlie Brown.  Seriously folks, we have to move on.  The parcel of land at 400 and Holcomb Bridge is too valuable not to redevelop.  The UDC will permit buildings up to 8 stories in that area.  Additionally, it will likely be a future MARTA station.  It’s coming.  Get over it.  It’s only 8 stories.  The next most towering height permitted is 6 stories at Hwy 140 & 9.  There are 6 story buildings all over North Fulton.  Several other areas permit a lofty 4 stories and the rest of the map allows up to 3 stories.  (Correction: 6 stories are permitted in most of the industrial areas North of Mansell along the hwy 9 corridor and east into the industrial areas.  I did not clarify that in the published column.)

Roswell East (aka Charlie Brown) is a little too intense for Roswell. The UDC isn't dictating that this type of development be built anywhere.

Density will destroy our schools.  Huh?  Transiency, poverty and social disorder kill schools not people.  If we build a place where responsible people want to live, regardless of whether they are renters or owners, we won’t have a school problem.  

We will Choke on Traffic.  Our Transportation Master Plan that was approved in September helps address these issues but I challenge anyone out there to name any thriving city that does not have traffic?  Cities and towns without traffic problems are dying cities and towns.  Detroit’s done a fantastic job solving its traffic problem.  

They’re mandating URBANISM!!! - Let’s set this straight.  Urbanism is a design philosophy covering the spectrum from low density to very high density.  Urbanism does not mandate Manhattan but it allows it, just as it allows single family residential. Urbanism promotes connectivity, proximity, mixed-use, walkability, bikeability, incremental change and value creation through effective and thoughtful land use.  

The transect outlines development patterns from Rural to Urban. New Urbanism does not mandate high density.

Canton Street, the Mill Village, Milton Crabapple, Historic Norcross and Marietta Square are all examples of good URBANISM.  So is Seaside which is the only place I can think of that consistently and genuinely has the idyllic “white picket fence” that seems to define the “small-town feel.”  So, how is it that the world’s preeminent model of ‘urbanism’ provides exactly the idyllic, small-town feel that these public agitators preach will be destroyed by said ‘urbanism’? Go sell your Revelations somewhere else preacher men because I’m not buying it.  (30-A stickers anyone?)

The process has been rushed!  I disagree.  Our 2030 Comp Plan was adopted in Oct. 2011.  Amongst other things, it aims to revitalize declining areas, add additional housing options and update existing codes to attract high-quality projects.  Our current codes could not easily accomplish this task and in May 2012 the city brought in Code Studio to assist with the mammoth effort of updating and simplifying them.  A stakeholder committee was formed and has worked diligently over the past 16 months to get to this point. There have been over 40 meetings since the process began and all of them have been open to the public. The process has been well documented and open to the public.

All legislation should have a clear purpose.  The purpose of the UDC is to aid the city in implementing the 2030 Comp Plan and its Strategic Economic Development Plan.  Those that proselytize against the UDC have no plan, they just don’t like this one.  Some of their concerns have some merit but to spout off every worst case scenario to sack legislation is immature and disingenuous.  The bottom line is that Roswell has a plan that was created through a very open process with SIGNIFICANT and UNPRECEDENTED community input and the UDC helps implement that plan.

The kicker is that almost everything the UDC allows could be done today but it would take a lot more effort between the city and developers, builders & property owners thereby wasting taxpayer money and sending a discouraging signal to anyone wanting to do business in Roswell.  The UDC will help Roswell execute on its vision by reducing red tape, clarifying the vision and enabling the private sector to more efficiently and effectively put capital to work.

The Devil’s Advocate likes to say the Devil is in the Details.. I say the Devil is in Delay... NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO AGREE WITH EVERYTHING IN THIS DOCUMENT.


Let your mayor and council know that you support the UDC by sending them an email at

Town Hall | Roswell: Dining Out.. a RoswellNEXT Event

I wanted to make my readers aware of one of my other efforts that is going on here in Roswell next week.  RoswellNEXT holds periodic events around town that focus on issues and topics that matter to Roswell.  This month, on 8/22, we are hosting Town Hall | Roswell: Dining Out.  It will be a panel of five restauranteurs from Roswell and they will discuss the dining scene in Roswell and North Fulton.  It should be an excellent event.

Here's the info...

We have an exciting evening planned for our August installment of Town Hall | Roswell and if you are interested in the food scene in Roswell, and who isn't, you won't want to miss it.  RSVP Now

Town Hall | Roswell is a unique event that brings our city together to learn about and discuss issues and ideas that are important to the future of our city. This month, we are fortunate to have a top notch panel of local restauranteurs to discuss what's it's like to run a restaurant in what has become one of the best cities to dine out in the metro area.  

Our panel will include Ryan Pernice of Table & Main and the soon to be open Osteria Mattone, Marc Wegman of Adele's Authentic Cajun Cuisine, Jack Gerbilick of the Food Movement and Rich Clark of Hugo's Oyster Bar & C&S Seafood. Our moderator will be Steve Stroud of the Roswell Business Alliance.

You can expect to learn about what it's like starting a restaurant in Roswell, how Canton Street has redefined OTP dining, how food trucks are impacting business and what the best dishes in Roswell are.  Additionally, we will have some special treats on hand from some local restaurants to satisfy your appetite while you listen to all the talk about great food.

We will also be helping out a local charity with food donations.  Bring 10 canned goods and receive free admission.  Donations will go to the North Fulton Community Charities.

We are also cross promoting a fundraiser for another local non-profit, The Kula Project, that night where several local restaurants are donating 20% of their sales that day to the Kula Project's #ForTheFarmer campaign. Learn More

Event Details

  • Date & Time: August 22nd | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Location: Roswell Historic Cottage, 972 Alpharetta St,Roswell, GA 30075
  • Parking: Free Valet @ the Roswell Historic Cottage
  • Admission: Members $5, Non-Members $15 - RSVP on our Facebook page - Pay at the door (credit accepted) 
  • Drinks: $5 suggested donation

We look forward to seeing you there! 

The RoswellNEXT Team

Mike Hadden | Aaron Gravett | Adam & Anna Braund | Chris Foster | Brendan Walsh | Beckie Hawkins | Thomas Shelton | BeAnne Creeger | Dan Shaughnessy



Move Roswell Forward.. A Call to Action from Lew Oliver

This post is an email that was distributed today to members of the Roswell community by local resident and world renowned architect, designer and town planner Lew Oliver.  Lew is passionate about seeing Roswell move in the right direction and has influenced countless plans and designs here in Roswell with one of the most notable being the redevelopment of the Old Bricks into an incredible cluster of high end residences in Mill Village.  Please take a moment and read his call to action regarding the upcoming vote on a demolition permit for two old structures in Historic Roswell...

This Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. The Roswell Historic Preservation Commission will convene to review a request for the demolition of 2 structures located on South Atlanta Street, just north of the Square (adjacent to and to the left of Spiced Right BBQ).  These structures contain historic material likely from the mid-late 19th century.  Adam Orkin will be the developer with the mission, a man brave and resolute in helping us in the reconstruction agenda.

The issue is not that the structures are historic…they are in fact.  They contain 19th century materials and traces of the past.  They are, however, very much compromised, obscured, to use preservationist jargon.  The larger issue is that they are in the direct path of progress.  The progress I am referring to is not as it has been in our recent past, where great buildings, streets, or the environment are sacrificed for the sake of a degraded landscape, which currently surrounds and in fact forms the spine of our City.  The progress I am referring to is the implementation of the Andres Duany (DPZ) scheme for providing Roswell with a real heart, a commercial and civic realm with no equal in North Georgia.  Andres is commonly known as the world's greatest living town planner.  I for one, will promote his brilliant vision above other agendas.  This new town center will provide our neighborhoods vital neighborhood services, increased pedestrianism, and will begin to transform Roswell from blight to brilliance. It is the next historic district. 

Most of you know that I am a former Historic Preservation member myself, having partnered with many of you in restoring the Old Bricks, amongst other projects.  I do not take this position lightly.  But there is the big picture to consider…one which will usher in new vitality to a musty historic district.  This is the course of great places.  To remain the same is decidedly non-historic in world history.  

Staff will likely recommend denial, unless their mission now includes the new vision.  All major projects in the Mill Village that we now accept as a part of our neighborhood fabric, (both phases of the Old Bricks) were not recommended by staff.  They are charged with  "preservation" agenda above the creation of place.  This is standard issue, one which is sanctioned by the Department of the Interior (whose presence is not evident here).   We must help them change. Please be present if you have something to say.


Lew Oliver


Collaborate on the Historic Gateway Master Plan

I'm actually a little disappointed to say that I wasn't aware of this site until just last week.  As part of the community involvement portion of the Historic Gateway Master Plan project, the consultant, DPZ, and the city have set up an Idea Collaboration website at  Users can submit their ideas, comment on others and second ones that they like.  This allows great ideas to bubble up to the top giving DPZ and the city a better idea of what the citizens are looking for beyond what they heard during workshops.  It also allows anyone whose schedule does not permit the ability to submit their feedback for the record.

Please check out the site and add your input.  Here are some of the ideas I've submitted so far:

Check them out and second them if you like them or add some commentary to improve them.  Let's make our historic district a place for people and not cars!


City Hall Square - DPZ Concept

We saved the most innovative of the DPZ proposals for last.  Now, to be up front and honest with everyone, it is my second favorite of the three proposals.  The New Canton Street proposal is actually my favorite but this one is a close second.

This proposal creates a true civic square that functions as the heart of the city anchored by all of the traditional institutions of government and culture. It would slow traffic down but still allow it to flow. Remember that 30 mph is the ideal speed for traffic volumes. This design could maintain that. The proposal would create an incredible location for the new Walk of Valor memorial. Additionally, it would provide a home to the new Fulton County library that is being considered and a new courthouse for the city. The Arts Center would anchor Canton Street and create an amazing cultural amenity that all could see. This is a signature project for Roswell. It could transform the face of our city.

Now, if your concerned with what to do with the old library and the performing arts center, I have a great idea. It could serve as an incredible foundation for a Roswell Charter School campus that would give our city center the school it is lacking. I feel there are better locations that are more central to the neighborhood (Oak St & 9 Intersection) but this would be a real opportunity that could happen in tandem with the City Hall Square. Check out the presentation below to see the vision unfold.

All images courtesy of Duany Plater-Zyberk

#13... Our City Hall

Why We Love It..

It is a beautiful building on a great site that adds character to our community.  Compare our city hall to many of the other suburban city halls around the Atlanta region (Milton) and you'll see just how special ours is.  It tells you that we care about our city and what we make of it.  The grounds are excellent with beautiful landscaping and monuments to our heritage. The pathways that connect to other cultural facilities in and around the municipal complex are great.  The building is centrally located and makes it easy for most of our citizens to get to (by car).

What We Would Change...

Well, you can't change much at this point.  The biggest problem I have with our city hall is the way it is positioned on the site.  It is inward looking and turns it's back to the rest of the community just like much of the development in the last 50 years does.  It says, 'I'm city hall and I'm too good to look out at the city.. you'll have to come to me to see me.'  It's not in a very walkable location with most of the residents of our city needing a car to access their City Hall.  That's a product of where we live rather than how it's sited though.  Still, they could have done a better job.  The steps should face out to the community.  Instead, during the winter (you can't see anything in the summer), we get to see the ass end of the building as we walk or drive by on Atlanta Street.