Marietta OKs new traffic calming policy, relaxes metal building rules

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Jul. 16—The Marietta City Council gave the green light this week to a policy which will require residents to get 70% of their neighbors on board before the city will implement active "traffic calming" measures such as bike lanes, traffic islands and speed bumps.

The policy, which governs the process through which citizens, city staff and the mayor and council work to reduce aggressive driving, was last updated in 2013. This update comes due to some council members feeling the city has too often changed streets at the request of one disgruntled resident.

Here's how the process will work going forward for active traffic calming measures:

First, a resident makes a request for traffic calming measures to the city's public works department, which notifies the councilperson for the respective ward.

After public works determines the affected area (the street being modified and any side streets branching off from it), council must approve a traffic study. If the study finds traffic problems, a neighborhood meeting will be scheduled — residents will be notified by mail, signs will be posted in the area and the city website and social media pages will announce it.

Public works staff will produce a preliminary design.

"To show awareness and consensus for the proposed traffic calming plan, a petition must be submitted to public works with signatures of 70% of the real property owners approving the proposed plan," the policy mandates.

The council will finally identify funding, hold a public hearing and vote on the plan. Then comes implementation.

Removal of traffic calming measures will also require 70% buy-in and council approval. Public works recommends the council not let that occur until at least a year after the measures are implemented.

Passive, as opposed to active, traffic calming measures, do not require residents to jump through as many hoops for implementation. Passive measures are those which do not modify the geometry of the road, such as lane restriping, signage and driver feedback signs.

Also unanimously approved Wednesday was a relaxing of the city's metal buildings ordinance, which had been unchanged since 1998.

Some building materials that have come into wider use since the '90s were not allowed under city code. The city has previously required metal siding facing the roadway to be covered up with brick, stone, rock or wood in several zoning categories that regulate office, commercial and industrial areas.

However, the city has approved at least 19 exceptions to the metal siding ordinance since 2010, according to city staff. Instead of having to regularly approve exceptions, Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson proposed reforming the code to make it more inclusive.

Newer building materials such as aluminum composite material (ACM) panels have become popular with modern chain restaurants and dealerships located in commercial areas, city staff said in a memo on the issue. ACM, along with cementitious siding (a type of imitation wood), glass and split-faced concrete (defined as concrete which appears to have been hand-chiseled to give it a textured look) have all been added to the list of permitted façade materials in several zoning categories.

And under the new ordinance, the city will also allow metal siding, such as corrugated metal, on certain streets in industrial areas.

At the request of Councilman Grif Chalfant, the council unanimously approved lowering speed limits on more than 20 neighborhood streets in the Bellemeade Drive area, as well as lowering the limit on Colston Road, a neighborhood street located north of Powder Springs Street, near Chesnut Hill Road.

Many of the streets had limits of 30 mph previously. Chalfant, citing complaints of speeding, successfully convinced the council to set all the streets at 25 mph.

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