ROSWELL, Ga. — The city of Roswell is considering changes to its open record policies that would require people to either provide “verifiable” names and addresses or go to Roswell City Hall to retrieve requested records.
Officials say the move is an effort to address a large volume of requests, claiming Roswell receives considerably more inquiries than other North Fulton municipalities.
Appen Media decided to find out if that’s true. It’s not.
In fact, Roswell has received fewer records requests than almost all of its sister cities this year, according to documents reviewed by the news organization.
Roswell received 406 requests since Jan. 1, according to the City Clerk’s office. The city has approximately 92, 530 residents.
Sandy Springs, its sister city to the south, received 947 requests during the same time period. Sandy Springs has approximately 14,000 more residents than Roswell.
Milton, a city less than half the size of Roswell at 41,259 residents, received 507 requests.
Only Johns Creek, a city slightly smaller than Roswell, received less requests. Officials there provided documents showing it received 323 inquiries during that time.
Alpharetta, a municipality consistently compared with Roswell despite its smaller population, takes the cake. That sister city received 1,336 requests, more than three times as many, during the same window.
It’s worth noting that Roswell was one of only two cities that charged Appen Media for documents related to this analysis, despite the query being the same across jurisdictions.
Residents, including one sitting City Council member, have raised concerns about the legality of the proposed policy changes.
At a March 14 Administration, Finance, Recreation and Parks Committee meeting, Councilwoman Sarah Beeson cited state law that dictates any person, corporation or entity may request access to public records.
“I cannot be emphatic enough about how much I oppose this resolution,” Beeson said.
Roswell Mayor Kurt Wilson assured residents that longtime City Attorney David Davidson has approved the measure after speaking with the state Attorney General’s office. The resolution, Davidson said, is “simply following state law.”
Appen Media requested documents to vet that statement through an open records request but the city has not yet provided them.
At the meeting all but one of the councilmembers voted in favor of the resolution, with Councilwoman Sarah Beeson dissenting. It will now go before City Council at the next regularly scheduled meeting March. 27.