Tonight the Alpharetta City Council voted to approve another high density mixed use project with nearly 500 condos. The vote was unanimous and it was embarrassing to watch how council members fawned over the developers. The council toothlessly imposed ownership restrictions but MetLife balked at an amendment that would prevent the property from converting to 500 apartments within five years so council decided to take their word for it.
Below are my comments to the council.
Good evening. My name is Jimmy Gilvin and I live in Alpharetta. I’ve come to speak against the Peridot project being proposed by MetLife.
Tonight this council will decide whether to continue urbanizing the city of Alpharetta by adding dense housing. The MetLife parcel is currently zoned for more than a million feet of office space which would provide more than 3300 badly needed jobs for the people of Alpharetta. The new proposal replaces 1800 of those jobs with 500 condominiums.
Why would this council trade $123,000,000 in annual salaries for 500 condos? This letter from MARTA’s Office of Transit Planning explains,
“MARTA is also working with the City of Alpharetta to initiate an LCI for the North Point Mall area as part of a north line rail extension… the city of Alpharetta had inquired from MARTA on the feasibility of having the proposed rail station at a location across SR 400 from the mall in the vicinity of the development site. MARTA has not yet made a firm decision on the station location but believes this development will add density in the area, making for better transit supportive environment.”
So for more than 5 years Alpharetta City officials have been quietly but methodically urbanizing this city in the hope of attracting MARTA. Was it happening when current City Councilman Chris Owens was working for the developer of Prospect Park as the civil engineer of the project? I don’t know. But it was happening when the city approved a 12 story condo tower in the Alpharetta High School district and it will continue tonight if you approve this MetLife proposal.
This year Alpharetta voters like me will elect a new mayor and several of you will be up for reelection. With your votes tonight you will help make those choices clear. We can either choose leaders that continue to urbanize our city in the hope of attracting MARTA or we will elect people that will protect what already makes Alpharetta a great place to live.
Alpharetta is a special place. We enjoy a fantastic quality of life with great public schools and low crime rates. As a result we are one of the finest places to live in all of Georgia.
I stand here asking you not to throw that all away. Despite what consultants, developers and land use attorneys may tell you the majority of people that live here don’t want Alpharetta urbanized to attract MARTA. Many voters don’t want MARTA here at all. All of you live here and in your hearts you know that is true. I am asking you to vote accordingly. Please vote no on this project.
The council members that voted for the project were: Douglas Derito, Jim Paine, Cheryl Oakes, Chris Owens, Mike Kennedy and DC Aiken in addition to Alpharetta mayor Arthur Letchas.