Taxpayers pick up the tab for Windward Mill road improvements

Back in 2008 the Alpharetta City Council approved a high density mixed use project for the intersection of Windward Parkway and Northpoint Parkway. The developer of the project is a man named Penn Hodge and he calls the proposed project Windward Mill. Many residents were upset that the Windward Mill project would add 500 condos to the site and result in 12,000 more vehicular trips at the congested intersection but the Alpharetta City Council unanimously approved the project.

One of the justifications councilmembers cited for their approval was that as a condition of the rezoning the developer would be responsible for millions of dollars in road improvements to accommodate his enormous project. You may remember that the same talking point was recently used by City Council as they tried to explain their recent approval of the MetLife high density mixed use project on Haynes Bridge Road.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that I would be paying for road improvements to accommodate a 15 story condo tower that I didn’t want built in the first place. Well not just me, every tax payer in the state of Georgia is now paying for the road improvements that are Penn Hodge’s responsibility.

As you can see in this press release the North Fulton Community Improvement District has announced that the Georgia Department of Transportation will pay more than $600,000 to, “add a right-turn lane along Windward Parkway, from the north-bound exit all the way to North Point Parkway”. Curiously the press release doesn’t mention that one of the zoning conditions for Penn Hodge’s project on that corner was that there be “an eastbound right-turn lane along Windward Parkway”.

So how did Penn Hodge, who sits on the board of the North Fulton CID, convince the state of Georgia that taxpayers should pay more than $600,000 for the road improvements he was obligated to make? I don’t know but it seems like a great question to ask the executive director of the North Fulton CID, Brandon Beach. You see Mr. Beach just happens to also be the North Fulton representative on the board for the Georgia Department of Transportation. Small world isn’t it?

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12 thoughts on “Taxpayers pick up the tab for Windward Mill road improvements

  1. The CID has had this on their to-do list for a while now. And from what I understand, it will provide for a U-shaped path to follow, from GA-400 north to Windward east to North Point south. I’d imagine the Windward Mill turn lane was only for Windward Parkway? But I haven’t see the zoning.

    The only new thing here is that the state is kicking in the $600k, right?

    • Lee- The GRTA Notice of Decision required dozens of road improvements to several roads on and around the site to accomodate the extra 12,000 cars a day. The ones now being paid for with tax dollars are at the intersection of Windward Parkway and North Point Parkway where it required “an eastbound right-turn lane along Windward Parkway” and on Windward Parkway at the site’s proposed driveway #1 where GRTA required “an eastbound right turn lane on Windward Parkway”. Yes, the fact it is now a taxpayer expense instead of the developer’s expense is the new part.

  2. With or without Windward Mill, the improvements need to be made. The reasonable thing to do is ask Penn Hodge to spend those funds on other traffic improvements. Think the council would ever do that? Wonder if Mike Kennedy wants to chime in on this?

    • Would Council have the authority to do this though? They can’t force a private citizen to spend $ on some other project, can they?

      The really bad thing is that Hodge/Beach didn’t just pass the cost onto Alpharetta citizens — they put it on the backs of the whole state. Don’t people go to jail for stuff like this? How do people like this sleep at night? (Don’t answer.)

      It makes me wonder how many other DOT projects were formerly developer-committed projects to some other City Council who then pulled strings to get the monkey off their backs.

      This is nothing short of a total outrage.

  3. Sure, I’ll chime in.

    I think we should wake up every day thankful that we have a group like the North Fulton CID. They voluntarily tax themselves above and beyond the city’s required millage rate and use that money for road improvements throughout Alpharetta that we all benefit from. We can use tax dollars for improvements in other areas of the city. It’s like getting $1.50 of infrastructure improvements for $1.00.

    If we waited on whatever comes along to replace Windward Mill, it could be years — or decades and may not require road improvements at all. If I lived in Alpharetta — particularly Windward — I think I’d plant a big hug on every CID member I could find and thank them for taxing themselves VOLUNTARILY and using that money to help improve the road in my neighborhood.

    • And all the North Fulton CID asks in return is that Alpharetta City Council grant them 1000’s of high density housing units and a transit station to completely change the nature of our city. How ungrateful of us lowly peons not to appreciate their lavish charity and the wisdom of our elected representatives.

      • The next time you see a member of the NFCID or City Council, remember to fall prostrate. 😉

    • A business or corporation is a non-organic entity. Ultimately it is the consumer that pays taxes. When they “self-tax” all it tells me is that they are having to raise the prices of their goods and services to make up that difference in their bottom line. I still pay, but they get the advantage of having more visibility and pull in the community because of their apparent self-sacrificing “philanthropy.” Please.

      This is why you see movements for flat tax and fair tax, and an elimination of all the loopholes. All these gimmicks amount to nothing more than crony capitalism which ultimately leads to fascism or socialism.

      • Basically it is a scheme for non-elected people not accountable to the people to impose their will upon the community. I can smell a rat from miles away.

    • Mike,
      Thanks for chiming in. Could you answer Lee’s specific question on how you feel about a developer misrepresenting himself before Council, that is, agreeing to a condition only to have him pass on his that obligation to your constituents (and those across the state)? Aren’t you supposed to be there on behalf of us?

  4. Mike – there is rarely a free lunch. While the efforts of the North Fulton CID appear honorable, it does facilitate political influence.

  5. Mr Kennedy, I think you missed the point. The CID isn’t paying for this, the taxpayers of Georgia are.

    I’m grateful for some of the things the CID pays for. But I agree with the others that it comes at a high political price. Please name one occasion in which the recent Council had voted against the wishes of the CID.

    And you didn’t answer my question. Would it be reasonable to ask the Windward Mill developer to spend the turn lane money elsewhere on another project? (Since the CID/taxpayers are already doing it)

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