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Powell: City Officials continually overlook available Federal dollars for local projects, opting instead to used and increase local taxes. I will seek every available Federal opportunity, providing an outstanding return for your local tax dollars. I bring to the Atlanta City Council a thorough knowledge of federal programs and available funding sources for local projects.
What is a city issue in Atlanta that, in your opinion, very few people have paid attention to? Could you — and would you — address it?
Smith: In the past we have had complaints of trucks getting lost and driving through neighborhoods. They pull down power and cable wires, knock down signs and break curbs and sidewalks. With the increased use of GPS, trucks are increasingly finding their way into neighborhoods. I will be researching ways to work with GPS companies regarding updates specific to the trucking industry. My goal is to eliminate trucks cutting through residential neighborhoods.
Another big issue that many of us have considered is the much needed revision to the City's zoning code. Not many people think about that, and yet it impacts everyone in the city, every day.
Welsh: I will fight for occupied houses. The great recession has left District 1 with too many vacant and abandoned homes. I firmly believe that occupied homes lead to stable communities and stable communities lead to safe communities. In the final analysis, safe communities lead to educated communities, and educated communities lead to economic opportunity for all. I would aggressively solving the vacant/abandoned homes problem by attracting, incentivizing and educating families with tax abatements, financial literacy, and downpayment assistance.
Powell: Water. An article a few years back, the NY Times, I think. "Water the new gold," or something like that. Water is the most vital resource for communities. If you look at the urban development grew in proximity to abundant water sources. If ever there where to be a moratorium placed on new housing development in Atlanta, it will be due to a limited water supply.
The State could fight for the corrective action of Georgia boundary designation into the Tennessee River. This would be a case decided by the US Supreme Court required to hear cases between States. I think we should do it!
Southeast Atlanta residents recently raised concerns about a big-box retail center along the Atlanta Beltline. As the Beltline continues along in its development, what steps would you take to make sure its vision — specifically, the one residents laid out in planning meetings — is fulfilled?
Smith: The Atlanta BeltLine is a transformational project for our city and its vision is something we should keep intact. I do not support any efforts of developers to deviate from the Atlanta BeltLine's grand vision. This is a very long term project. We need to support the proactive zoning and we need to do it now.
Welsh: We need to clarify what the actual legal standing of the Beltline Overlay is and how it relates to the current zoning it encompasses. The recent BZA ruling does clarify this to some degree, though not the way the impacted residents hoped it would. This may be a setback for the Glenwood residents, but not necessarily for the Beltline as a whole. What it did reveal was the need for district councilpersons to take a much more proactive role in guarding the Beltline vision.
Assuredly, this will not be the last time that vision is challenged. Property development is a long process. Dropping a last minute rezoning bomb, as our councilperson did, without demonstrating harm or standing is a sure way to guarantee that process blows up in your face. The lesson here is this: the entire Beltline needs to be reviewed and problem areas identified long before development disputes emerge. Incentives should be provided for property owners to comply with Overlay zoning or convert to compliance. We cannot continue to treat something so important as the Beltline to piecemeal, incongruent implementation. And we must find better ways to respect the needs of both property owners and residents as we do so.
Powell: I have watched my opponent mismanage and bungle the Beltline Project at every step. In my opinion, she has managed to make "every" situation worst using crafty tricks that simply won't work. Changing parcel code during negotiation of a land purchase, I would like to know in what community has this approach proved successful.
It's not an approach I would have taken. There is a much cleaner method for resolving such issues, and without the threat of litigation. It's something one knows from having real experience in government. This sneak approach to government business is not my style. Your government works when you know how it works.
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