Are You Red? - Are you Sure?

The opposition to development in Roswell is getting pretty heated right now.  There are actually (I know some of you can't believe it) several projects active or planned that I find appalling.  However, I had to take some time to call a recent article (if you can call it that) concerning opposition to a project in Roswell out as pure tabloid garbage.

Let's not pretend that this Red Shirts on the Move rant in the Alpharetta - Roswell Review & News is remotely close to journalism.  This post is hysterical (in more ways than one), factually inaccurate, aside from it's portrayal of the opposition to this project, and logically inconsistent.  I just couldn't resist digging into some of the meaty morsels of journalistic integrity..

"..more than 225 residents who gathered to express concern, frustration and anger over a rezoning proposal for a 113-unit subdivision to go up in the middle one of Roswell's most attractive and livable neighborhoods. If approved by the city, the new development will replace nine single-family homes on 21 acres at Hembree and Chaffin Roads, with mainly townhouses and small cottage homes."

Seems straightforward at first glance but it implies that the new "subdivision" is replacing a "neighborhood" and that the new "subdivision" wouldn't be "attractive and livable." For those who aren't familiar, the developers are proposing a project inspired by Vickery Village in Cumming which is one of the most attractive neighborhoods in the Metro Area and HIGHLY Livable.  Additionally, the developers live in two of the nine existing homes and plan to live in the new development.  

 Site plan with a mix of housing types and street connections that help disperse auto trips more effectively whil also adding walkable connections for neighboring properties to more easily and safely walk and bike around the area.

Site plan with a mix of housing types and street connections that help disperse auto trips more effectively whil also adding walkable connections for neighboring properties to more easily and safely walk and bike around the area.

This development is trying to create a natural neighborhood feel that has different types of homes next to each other.  This is a novel idea for the suburbs but it's actually the way human civilizations were built for centuries before we went off the deep end with cars and zoning.  I think the statement "Mainly townhouse and small cottage homes" omits some key details of the plan.  There are actually four 'main' types of homes in this development that deserve mention.  

There are 15 lots facing Hembree and Chaffin which will be single family and will have architecture that tries to achieve a transition from the neighboring properties as you work your way into the development.

 Homes that would line Hembree and Chaffin.  Worthy of Red shirts?  Not my personal style but insanely better than what's there today.

Homes that would line Hembree and Chaffin.  Worthy of Red shirts?  Not my personal style but insanely better than what's there today.

There are 23 internal lots that will be single family homes.  These will be inspired by architecture in Vickery Village and what you would see in Serenbe, Historic Norcross or Glenwood Park.  

 A sample of the single family homes on the interior of the development.  This is more up my alley.  Red shirt worthy?

A sample of the single family homes on the interior of the development.  This is more up my alley.  Red shirt worthy?

The cottage courts or court yard homes would total 55 and would be similarly inspired as the 23 internal lots.

 A sample of what the courtyard homes could look like.  I think some people wearing red might actually like moving into one of these when they decide to downsize a bit.

A sample of what the courtyard homes could look like.  I think some people wearing red might actually like moving into one of these when they decide to downsize a bit.

Finally, there would be 20 townhouse units.  I guess 66% could qualify as "Mainly townhouse and small cottage homes," but leaving out the other 34% is a bit one sided.  

 Pretty standard townhome product but this is just to illustrate the concept.  Nothing overly bad about these.

Pretty standard townhome product but this is just to illustrate the concept.  Nothing overly bad about these.

Moving on...

"The proposal was made possible by changes in Roswell's zoning code with the adoption of the UDC (Unified Development Code) that was voted in by the City Council in 2014."

This is downright false.  UDC or no UDC, the developers could have proposed this project.  What the developers are requesting is outside of what the UDC zoning allows.  HENCE the rezoning request.  This statement makes it sound like developers are emboldened by the UDC to request higher density and then implies that the City Council is to blame for making this possible.  REALLY?  The City Council votes a UDC in that keeps the zoning largely the same on these properties and is now being blamed when a developer asks for a zoning variance.  That's shameful and eliminates any journalistic integrity that existed.

Still in the third paragraph..

It has ignited a strong firestorm among residents who believe that high-density housing in established neighborhoods with no capacity to expand infrastructure to support that level of runaway growth threatens to alter the character, quality, and value of all of Roswell's neighborhoods.

This statement starts off fair enough but ends taking the reader on a trip to fantasy land.  First, let's look at the "high-density" statement.  Current zoning allows about 1.5 homes per acre.  This request would yield a little over 5.  That is 'higher-density' but it's a far cry from any rational definition of "high-density."  Higher-density does not equal "High-Density."  

Second, let's look at the "no capacity" claim.  Is there anything to support this type of hysterical opinion?  Traffic studies on this project showed an increase in trips (that's obvious) but no significant increase in congestion.  The road network can easily handle this level of development. EASILY. The city looks at impacts to infrastructure and schools and will make informed recommendations to the developers and to the council on what needs to be done to address any real concerns.  Reds need to stop deluding themselves that our city is doing nothing and sitting back getting railroaded by developers who then get a pass from our 'density-thirsty' city council.  I am constantly amazed by how much pushback developers get from the city staff on the details of projects before there is ever even a public hearing.  These details are vetted and they are vetted in EXCRUCIATING detail.  It would be enlightening to see just how many projects don't even make it to the public meeting portion of the process exactly because our staff IS paying attention to these details.

Third, there is a "level of runaway growth" threatening to "alter the character, quality and value of all of Roswell's neighborhoods."  Well, we are in the middle of a development cycle and fortunately we live in an area where businesses, investors and developers want to put capital to work.  Would it be better to live in a place where people didn't want to put money to work?  A lack of quality redevelopment is what the author and Reds should be concerned with when they say this might threaten the character, quality and value of ALL of Roswell's Neighborhoods.  Seriously, how could you print a statement like that?  The only thing that could be classified as "runaway" here is the author's imagination.  JUST WOW!

Some residents were quick to point out that three City Council seats will be decided in local elections November 3, that the two incumbents running voted yes for UDC, and it was this vote that makes projects like this rezoning possible.

This resident is quick to point out that pigs don't fly, leprechauns aren't real and that dragons don't exist.  The logical implication of this statement is that the UDC is allowing this request and that if we oppose this project as well as 'run-away high-density' development then we should punish the council for voting for the UDC by electing Horton and Palermo.  

The funny thing is...

THE UDC IS ACTUALLY DOING EXACTLY WHAT THE REDS WANT.   

It is preventing developers from building density in areas that aren't zoned for it.  They have to ask permission.  This is no different than previous zoning codes.  Rezoning requests weren't invented by the UDC and they aren't prohibited by the UDC.  That type of zoning would not hold up in court and quite frankly it would be un-American to prohibit a property owner from asking for a variance, rezoning, etc.  

What I find so interesting about the fierce opposition to this project is the fact that the reds are cutting off their noses..  The current homes on the property in question are largely unmarketable and are currently investment properties or stand to be in the next 3-5 years given their demographics while these homes would be new, high-quality and unique to the area.  

If this rezoning doesn't get approved, there is a distinct possibility that no development will happen which essentially means this section of Chaffin and Hembree could soon be lined by investor owned properties that will not be redeveloped for years.  The properties aren't attractive for redevelopment under the current zoning and investors don't quickly kill their cash cows.  So, you might not have any additional traffic but you might get some stubborn investment properties that don't juxtapose so nicely with neighboring subdivisions. Be careful what you wear red for.

If there is this much opposition to a quality development of this nature, then I've lost hope that any development of quality can be achieved outside the historic district in this city.  I guess it would be preferable to get a tract home developer to come in and scrape the land, build homogenous product at a lower density and leave us with another unconnected subdivision that makes zero effort to blend in with its neighbors.  But, that is the conventional way that we've come to know and love.  I'm doubtful we'd see any red at that neighborhood meeting.

CarBrain - Fulton County Schools Edition

Evidenced by the new elementary school along Hwy 9, CarBrain has undoubtedly taken control of our school designs.  I was first intrigued when driving by along Hwy 9, I caught a glimpse of a horde of Do Not Enter signs.  These are the same size and variety that you see plastered at the end of GA400 Off-Ramps.  So, one might think we had the risk of cars unknowingly cruising into an access controlled highway where oncoming traffic is hitting speeds upwards of 70 mph.   Not exactly,  this horde of signs was neatly clustered around the car pool exit.  The pavement even has neatly placed arrows showing the direction of car flow.  Here's a little montage of the situation.

 Four Do Not Enter signs clustered at the end of the car pool lane.  Take no chances with safety here.

Four Do Not Enter signs clustered at the end of the car pool lane.  Take no chances with safety here.

 The four (look closely) DNE signs here are set up in about the same way as those at the elementary school and they are the same size.

The four (look closely) DNE signs here are set up in about the same way as those at the elementary school and they are the same size.

 You might think four DNE signs is enough at the school but our friends at the Roswell Recycling Center might up you another eight.  Leave nothing to chance and no one will question your patriotism.

You might think four DNE signs is enough at the school but our friends at the Roswell Recycling Center might up you another eight.  Leave nothing to chance and no one will question your patriotism.

You might think that marks the end of the DNE overkill but you'd be wrong.  The car pool lane does hold the title here for the most DNE signs but the bus lane got in on the game too with a double dose of DNE that once again could be toned down.

 I'm not sure I'll ever quite understand the need for this much redundancy but maybe I'm not the target audience.  You'd have to be one hell of a confused driver to turn down the bus lane here.

I'm not sure I'll ever quite understand the need for this much redundancy but maybe I'm not the target audience.  You'd have to be one hell of a confused driver to turn down the bus lane here.

Now, CarBrain inflictions cause their victims to overlook common sense.  They are shrouded in a culture liability reduction by redundancy and cannot think past the confines of their automobile to see how this type of visual clutter is truly just pollution.  But what I found next might actually slap some sense into even the most difficult cases of CarBrain.   

As I explored, I noticed that there were some No Parking signs around the Do Not Enter signs.  The first thing I noticed was that they were a bit smaller than your standard NP sign that you see at virtually every turn lane in the world no.  However, upon further examination, I noticed that these little signs were placed really close together.  Like REALLY CLOSE.  So, I looked around a bit and saw something amazing.  

The DNE signs were not the real story here.  The NP signs were.  I started seeing them EVERYWHERE. I decided to count them from afar.  However, that didn't work because I lost count.  It was like trying to count the stars in the sky.

 The No Parking signs at the school are about half the size of a standard NP sign.  These are definitely preferable to larger ones especially in low speed environments.  Kudos FCS!  Now, reduce the size of those DNE signs.

The No Parking signs at the school are about half the size of a standard NP sign.  These are definitely preferable to larger ones especially in low speed environments.  Kudos FCS!  Now, reduce the size of those DNE signs.

 The bus lane is littered with No Parking signs.  Each one of those sticks is a No Parking sign.

The bus lane is littered with No Parking signs.  Each one of those sticks is a No Parking sign.

 This picture looks almost as good as an architectural rendering.  However, no architect would ever pollute their rendering with all those road signs.  I had to get a closer look.

This picture looks almost as good as an architectural rendering.  However, no architect would ever pollute their rendering with all those road signs.  I had to get a closer look.

 This truly is an enigma wrapped in a paradox.  RIDICULOUS!

This truly is an enigma wrapped in a paradox.  RIDICULOUS!

All told, there were 45 no parking signs on this school property that should not even exist.  The Red Curb says it all. It means No Stopping, No Standing, No Parking.  With the Red Curb, not a single sign is necessary.

HOLY F U C K I N G SHIT People.. this is insane.  

But wait... there's more (in another post).. but for now... Please.. Stop the Madness.


Alert: Epic Wrong Way Traffic Issue

 Redundant signs at East Roswell Park

Redundant signs at East Roswell Park

We are glad to report that we should no longer experience any wrong way traffic on this one way gravel drive in East Roswell Park. Covering all their bases the city has ensured that confused drivers will no longer imperil other drivers in this area of the park system.  

On top of that, drivers will no longer need to worry about barreling int this median at 5mph as there is now a handy median sign warning unsuspecting drivers that there is a tree in their path.  

 

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Maybe, just MAYBE, there is a need for one of these signs. That would be the One Way sign directing drivers to take a left.   

 

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Placemaking 101: Straight Outta Compton

Roswell Parks & Rec.. we love you.. but do you love us??  Your fence tells me you don't.

The fence at Roswell Area Park Pool is definitely meant to keep people out.

Could our parks and rec department, the best in the state, do a better job of placemaking?  I've written before about their obsession with the Security Alert signs.  

Makes me feel so welcome and safe.

On the topic of fences, I truly think we could do better evidenced by the Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool fence in Toronto.

The fence still exists and a person who climbs this and enters the pool is not the responsibility of the city at that point.Seriously, you would think our parks were straight outta compton with the barbed wire and the Security Alert signs.  

NO MOTOR VEHICLES

 

I noticed this sign heading west from Riverside Park along the walking and biking trail.  We must have a massive problem with motorized vehicles on the mixed-use path because this is a pretty big sign.  It's 2' by 2' and you can't miss it.  Does it really need to be that big?

The problem I have with it is twofold.. first, is it really necesary?  I'm not sure there's a motorized vehicle problem on the riverside trail and I doubt the problem is absent because of the signs.  It's absent because people inherently know that motorized vehicles don't belong on a riverside trail.  

If the sign is necessary, why not make it the same size as the truly unnecessary 'CAUTION BOARDWALK AHEAD' sign that's about 100 yards up the path.  This one is one quarter the size of the NO MOTOR VEHICLES sign and fits better into a park setting.

We really need to stop polluting our city with pointless signs, and if we must scar the scenery with metal signage, we should make an effort to reduce the impact on the visual landscape.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Proceed with caution, there's a boardwalk ahead and this park closes at dark for YOUR safety. 

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Stop the Madness: No Right, One Way, Do Not Enter

Why do we feel the need to over sign our built enviroment?  Drivers.. we would like for you to know the following...

  1. This street is a one way street.
  2. If you are unsure of what that means, it means that you cannot make a right turn here.
  3. If you have somehow missed that, you may also see the DO NOT ENTER sign on the right side of the road.
  4. If you have missed the DO NOT ENTER sign, you are now driving down a narrow street with very little traffic that is perfectly suited to be a two way street.

Redundant Signs in front of home in the historic Mill Village. So picturesque.Triple stamping the double stamp. Even more sign redundancy in the historic Mill Village.

 

Stop the Madness: Anxiously Awating...

I'm excited to announce that we soon be unveiling a brand new road sign at the Canton Street, Magnolia, Atlanta Street intersection.  I can't imagine one additional sign that is necessary at this intersection.  However,  the ceremonial removal of that black garbage bag will undoubtedly usher in a new era of safety at this intersection.  As an aside.. do we really need two sign posts here for GA 9 North and GA 120 East?  Stop the insanity.. seriously!

 

 

Stop the Madness: Stop 4 Pedestrians x3

On Windward Parkway, they really love their pedestrians.  At least at the Marconi Dr entrance to the Ryder building they do..  First, we have a crosswalk which should be the first indication to anyone driving that a pedestrian has the right of way.  However, drivers obviously don't know the rules of the road any longer so we had to invent the little stand up signs to remind the drivers.  Then

Windward and Marconi Triple Pedestrian Reminder

I'm guessing there was an accident at this spot that influenced the decision to put three signs withn 15 feet of eachother.  It's my opinion that one well placed sign could probably do the trick and the other two could be better used at other parts of the intersection or neighboring intersections.