Open Letter to Mayor + Council re: Groveway Code

Below is an open letter to the city council articulating my views as well as those of a number of individuals who live in Roswell on the proposed Groveway Hybrid Form-Based Code.  If you support this new zoning, please be sure to let your mayor and city council know before Monday evening as they will be voting on it.  You can email them at  


Dear Mayor and Council,

First, I would like to thank you for the time and consideration that each of you has invested in the Groveway Hybrid Form-Based Code. As you know, the code has gone through extensive review and community involvement.  The assertions by other Roswell citizens that it is being fast tracked is incorrect.  You are also aware that several residents have voiced concern about the unintended consequences of the code.  My initial concerns with the East Roswell Forum email were that the facts were grossly inaccurate.  However, those have now been debunked by the city.  There are 'unintended consequences' of every action. I decided to write you to ensure that both sides of the community are heard and I feel there several additional items that need to be voiced:

  • Our existing zoning is outdated and dysfunctional.  It is critical that we have an updated code particularly in the Groveway area.  We need this to encourage development in the heart of our city.  Otherwise, most of what the Groveway Community wants and needs will require time consuming variances and that will likely never happen.
  • Now is the time to act.  Our neighbors, Alpharetta and Sandy Springs, are moving forward on development and job growth.  Our tax rolls are not growing while theirs are.  If we do not act soon, we will miss the generational shift that is creating a significant demand for walkable urbanism as Gen Y joins the workforce and as the Baby Boomers become empty nesters and find that they don’t need the large house, that they would like to walk to many of their daily needs and also drive less.
  • We must continue to revitalize our town center. Form based codes focus on the creation, revitalization and preservation of vibrant, walkable urban places.  The center of our city should be just that while enabling people of all walks of life to live there.  They help accomplish the following:
  • Encourage Placemaking - They can do this because the are prescriptive thus achieving a more predictable physical result.
  • Encourage Public Participation - Citizens can see and understand what will be built which engages them more.
  • Encourage Independent Development - Independent developers can build on smaller lots knowing that what eventually gets built next to their lot will not adversely impact their building and/or business.
  • Create Diversity of Development - Because smaller independent developers have certainty, many more of them build which creates diverse development rather than what happens when one large developer owns all the land.
  • Retain History - FBCs work well in existing areas because they retain and codify the best of what is already there and build upon that to create a place unique to the area instead of a cookie cutter design
  • Foster Transparency - Non-professionals find them to be shorter, more readable and easier to understand which makes it easier to determine if the code is being followed.
  • Provide Developer Certainty and Reduce Risk - They give developers the certainty they need to encourage large investments of their own capital.

There is much to be excited about in Roswell today.  As you saw in Greenville, it takes bold action to build a great place.  Numerous other cities are already ahead of the curve with creating 21st century zoning codes (Denver, Miami, Nashville, El Paso, San Antonio, Montgomery, Sarasota).  One of the most famous towns in the south, Seaside, was built using a Form Based Code.  

I am are asking that you vote YES for the Groveway Hybrid Form-Based Code.  Please don’t let the short-term view of a few who have fed misinformation to many further delay the progress of our great city.  It would be a shame to waste this opportunity and see jobs and development continue to flow to our neighboring cities.


Michael Hadden | CNU-a | New Urban Roswell 
Roswell 40U40
712 Creek View Lane | Roswell, GA 30075