Alpharetta Six Years Later: 100,000 Cars & 1235 Apartments

On June 19th  Mayor Belle Isle and the Alpharetta City Council approved the seventh high density mixed use zoning case to come before us since I was elected in 2011. The vote Monday night was 4-2 in favor of the project with Councilman Jason Binder joining me to vote against it.

northwinds site 2

That latest project was called Northwinds Summit and will contain 140 apartments, 32 condos, 1.2 million square feet of office space, 30,000 square feet of retail and a 140 room hotel. It is projected to add more than 14,000 cars a day to the intersection of GA 400 and Haynes Bridge Road. Northwinds will be right across the street from the Tech 360 project approved last month which will add another 13,000 cars. Those projects will now draw 27,000 more cars a day to what was already one of the busiest intersections in Alpharetta.

And while 27,000 more cars a day may seem like a lot it is only a fraction of the traffic residents should expect from projects approved over the past six years. The seven urban mixed use projects approved alone are projected to add more than 100,000 cars a day to our already congested roadways.

But even that number doesn’t include the thousands of cars coming from all the acreage recently clear cut on Old Milton Parkway. Or the cars coming soon from property cleared on Kimball Bridge Road. Or cars coming from more developments approved on Webb Bridge Road. Or the houses, town houses and condos being built on Mayfield Road, Rucker Road, Canton Street, Academy Street and nearly every other congested corridor in the city.

City Center 4-3-2017

When I ran for office in 2011 there were three candidates running for Mayor and six candidates running for three city council positions. For ten weeks the nine of us spent every possible moment hosting events, knocking on doors and attending debates to explain why the people of Alpharetta should vote for us. The one issue that all nine candidates acknowledged as a top priority for everyone was Alpharetta’s traffic.

Every candidate promised we were going to do something about the horrific traffic that has plagued this city for years. Yet here we are six years later and city council has approved developments that will add well over 100,000 cars a day while we are still years away from traffic improvements that could ease congestion.

Don’t get me wrong.  Development is not bad and I am not anti-growth.

I am proud of much that our mayor and council have accomplished over the past six years. Cooperation between the City of Alpharetta, our business community and the commercial property owners who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars help make Alpharetta a shining star in the state of Georgia.

But when I promised to do something about traffic I was committed to supporting a pace and scale of development that our infrastructure could support. Many of my fellow candidates promised the same thing.

Rush hour in Alpharetta is already frustrating and over the next five years it is going to get worse before it gets better. Construction is about to begin along every major roadway in the city.  Critical corridors like Rucker Road and McGinnis Ferry may need to be closed for a while as bridges and roundabouts are constructed. All of this will happen just as new developments start to add tens of thousands of cars to our traffic. You can find more detailed information about the planned projects at this link.

City projects

The long term affects of that congestion along with the impact such rapid growth will have on schools and crime rates are going to be immense. I am concerned that it is just too much too fast. And I know a lot of other Alpharetta residents are concerned too because they ask me about it everywhere I go.

People ask me what’s going to be built on the latest piece of land where the trees are suddenly gone. People ask me why the city didn’t do something about traffic before approving so many developments. People ask me why I’m usually the only council member voting against some of the mixed use apartment projects.

Then people ask me the one question I just can’t answer,”We’ve lost so many trees and traffic just keeps getting worse, why does the city keep approving all of this?” All I can say to that is,”I don’t know.”

 

 

 

Alpharetta City Council Meeting Agenda May 22, 2017

 

Below is the agenda for tonight’s Alpharetta City Council meeting. The meeting will take place at Alpharetta City Hall at 6:30 p.m. If you cannot attend the meeting in person you should be able to watch from your computer you can find it at this link barring any technical difficulties.

I apologize for the late notice here but the information was only passed along to me after 7:00 o’clock Friday night and I had to review the hundreds of pages of supporting documents myself before I could make the time to publish it here. You can always check the city website where it is usually posted by Friday night.

It is an enormous agenda with several zoning cases including the Fuqua/Peridot/MetLife high density mixed use development which I expect to be removed from the table now that it has a slightly reduced number of apartments in addition to numerous initiatives and workshop items along with more discussion of next year’s budget.

If you have questions or constructive comments please feel free to post them in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion.

I. CALL TO ORDER
II. ROLL CALL
III. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
IV. PROCLAMATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
A. Retirement Proclamation – Lyn Kennedy
B. Alpharetta Arts Awareness Day
V. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Council Meeting Minutes (Meeting of 05/15/2017)
5-15-17 Official Minutes
B. Alcoholic Beverage License Applications
Alcohol Licensing
VI. PUBLIC HEARING
A. CLUP-17-03 / MP-17-05 / Z-17-05 / CU-17-05 /V-17-16: Northwinds Summit/Pope & Land
 NOTE: This item will be neither heard nor discussed during this meeting. It has been    deferred by the Applicant and will be placed on the Planning Commission Agenda for    Thursday, June 1, 2017.

B. PH-17-12: Design Review Board Ordinance and Design Guidelines Amendments
  NOTE: This item will be neither heard nor discussed during this meeting. It has been        deferred at the request of City Staff. A future date for consideration has not been      scheduled.

C. CLUP-17-02 / Z-17-04: Taylor Morrison/40 Cumming Street/DT-R
NOTE: This item will be neither heard nor discussed during this meeting. It has been deferred by the Applicant and will be placed on the Planning Commission Agenda for Thursday, June 1, 2017.

D. Z-17-03: Thompson Street / Burnett Circle / DT-LW
Consideration of a request to rezone 5.78 acres from R-12 (Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’ Residential) and R-15 (Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’ Residential) to DT-LW (Downtown Live-Work) to allow for the construction of 44 ‘For-Sale’ Townhomes. The property is located on the north side of the Thompson Street and Westside Parkway intersection and is legally described as being located in Land Lot 802, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Staff Report
Council Agenda Report
Aerial Map
FLUP Map
Location Map
Zoning Map
Site Plan
Applicant Exhibits
Multi-Use Path
Elevations
Academy Park Meeting Summary
Academy Park Sign In Sheet
Citizen Part B Report
Tree Assessment Report
Tree Survey
Application

E. PH-17-06: Burnett Circle Road Abandonment
Consideration of a request to abandon the Burnett Circle right-of-way. The property is legally described as being located in Land Lot 802, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Staff Report
Council Agenda Report
Resolution
4.24.17 Site Plan
Location Map
Application
Adjacent Property Owners

F. PH-17-15: Unified Development Code – Text Amendments (1st reading)
Consideration of text amendments to the Unified Development Code to add a definition to Section 1.4.2 and determine appropriate zoning districts in Section 2.2.
Staff Report
Council staff report
Sec 3.4 Uses Allowed by District
Sec 1.4 Definitions
Ordinance

VII. OLD BUSINESS
A. MP-16-13 / Z-16-11 / CU-16-19 / V-16-26: TPA/Fuqua Development / Peridot
NOTE: This item was tabled by City Council on Monday, April 17, 2017. It must be removed from the table prior to discussion or consideration.

Consideration of a request to amend the Peridot (A.K.A. MetLife) Master Plan and previous conditions of zoning to allow 320 ‘For-Rent’ residential units, 167 ‘For-Sale’ Attached units, 55,500 square feet of retail/restaurant use, 664,400 square feet of office use, and a 200-room hotel. A rezoning is requested on 15.51 acres from O-I (Office-Institutional) to MU (Mixed-Use) and a conditional use is requested to allow ‘Dwelling, ‘For-Rent’ and ‘Bank, Savings and Loan’ uses. A variance is requested to allow first floor ‘For-Rent’ dwellings on three building sides and to allow first floor ‘For-Rent’ dwellings on a Storefront Street. The property is located on the west side of Haynes Bridge Road south of Lakeview Parkway and is legally described as Land Lots 744, 745, 752, and 753, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
Applicant Response to Conditions 5.15.17
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Revised Site Plan w Median Change
Tabled Plan 4.12.17
PC Approved Site Plan
2011 Approved Site Plan
Deck Elevations 4.12.17
Exhibit A Townhome Product
Multifamily Elevations
Updated Traffic Info
Citizen Email
Citizen Part B
Application

VIII. NEW BUSINESS

A. North Fulton Community Improvement District Expansion Request
Cover letter
Expansion list
NFCID Annexation Resolution
Expansion map

B. Janitorial Services for City Facilities, RFP 17-113
Janitorial Services for City Facilities, RFP 17-11
Cost Proposal for RFP 17-113

C. Downtown Shuttle / Trolley Pilot Program
Downtown Shuttle / Trolley Pilot Program
LOI – City Solutions
LOI – Aspen Limousines

D. Approval: Release Of An Indication Of Interest To Solicit Potential Public / Private Partnership In The Development Of A Performing Arts Center
NOTE: This item was tabled by City Council on Monday, October 24, 2016. It must be removed from the table prior to discussion or consideration.
Approval of the Release of an Indication of Interest
Performing Arts Center Indication of Interest Draft

IX. WORKSHOP
A. Kimball Bridge Road Bicycle/Pedestrian/Operational Improvements (TSPLOST)
Kimball Bridge Road Bicycle/Pedestrian/Operational
KBR West Concept

B. Old Milton Parkway Capacity Improvements (TSPLOST)
Old Milton Parkway Capacity Improvements (TSPLOST)
Alternative 1 – Grade Separation
Alternative 2 – Widening

C. Alpharetta Downtown Parking Study Update: Existing Conditions And Next Steps
Parking Study Update

D. Presentation and Discussion of the Recommended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
Presentation and Discussion of the Recommended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
FY 2018 Budget (excerpt)

X. PUBLIC COMMENT
XI. REPORTS
XII. ADJOURNMENT TO EXECUTIVE SESSION

Alpharetta City Council Meeting Agenda May 1, 2017

Below is the agenda for Monday night’s Alpharetta City Council meeting. The meeting will take place at Alpharetta City Hall at 6:30 p.m. There are several notable items on the agenda this week that I want to highlight.

The high density mixed use apartment development known as  Fuqua/Peridot/MetLife  is once again on the agenda. The case was heard two weeks ago but the decision has yet to be made. The applicant in the case deserves a timely decision on their case and at this time I know of no reason why the council shouldn’t render a decision Monday.

There will also be a discussion of adding a roundabout on Kimball Bridge Road to replace the red light which is currently at Rock Mill Park and the entrance to New Prospect Elementary School as well as Kimball Farms Subdivision. Monday will also include the unveiling of Mayor Belle Isle’s proposed budget for next year which will begin the process of setting our priorities for 2018.

The supporting documents for all agenda items can be found at the links below. If you have questions or constructive comments please feel free to post them in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion.

Remember that if you would like to watch the meeting from your computer you should be able to find the video feed at this link. However technical difficulties can interfere with broadcasts so I encourage anyone who feels strongly about topics on the agenda to join us at city hall in person.

I. CALL TO ORDER

II. ROLL CALL

III. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG

IV. PROCLAMATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
A. Amana Academy Presentation
B. Older Americans Month Proclamation
Older American’s Month

V. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Council Meeting Minutes (Meeting of 4/17/2017)
4-17-17 Official Minutes

B. Financial Management Report: Month Ending March 31, 2017
Staff Report (FMR)
Financial Management Reports (March 2017)

VI. PUBLIC HEARING

A. PH-17-11/V-17-11 EA Homes/Kevin Norton
Consideration of a request to change previous conditions of zoning to allow for the conversion of 17 ‘For-Sale’ townhome units to ‘For-Sale’ Detached units. The property is located on the north side of Thompson Street, just west of Park Street and is legally described as being located in Land Lot 749, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Staff Report
Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Zoning Map
Aerial Map
Location Map
Lot Plan
Latest Fence Plan
Elevations
Citizenship Part B
Application

VII. OLD BUSINESS

A. MP-16-13/Z-16-11/CU-16-19/V-16-26: TPA/Fuqua Development / Peridot
This item was tabled by City Council on Monday, April 17, 2017. It will need to be removed from the table in order to be considered.
Consideration of a request to amend the Peridot (A.K.A. MetLife) Master Plan and previous conditions of zoning to allow 320 ‘For-Rent’ residential units, 167 ‘For-Sale’ Attached units, 55,500 square feet of retail/restaurant use, 664,400 square feet of office use, and a 200-room hotel. A rezoning is requested on 15.51 acres from O-I (Office-Institutional) to MU (Mixed-Use) and a conditional use is requested to allow ‘Dwelling, ‘For-Rent’ and ‘Bank, Savings and Loan’ uses. A variance is requested to allow first floor ‘For-Rent’ dwellings on three building sides and to allow first floor ‘For-Rent’ dwellings on a Storefront Street. The property is located on the west side of Haynes Bridge Road south of Lakeview Parkway and is legally described as Land Lots 744, 745, 752, and 753, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.
Council Agenda Report

Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Revised Site Plan 4.17.17
PC Approved Site Plan
2011 Approved Site Plan
Deck Elevations 4.12.17
Exhibit A Townhome Product
Multifamily Elevations
Updated Traffic Info
Citizen Email
Citizen Part B
Application

B. PH-17-12 UDC Text Amendments (2nd Reading)
Consideration of text amendments to the Unified Development Code addressing ‘Hotel’ definitions and associated modifications to the list of permitted uses, reduce front setback requirements for certain North Main Street properties, Site Grading and Land Disturbance, as well as other miscellaneous amendments.

Council Agenda Report
Sec 2.3 Supplementary Regs
Sec 3.3 Stormwater Mgmt
UDC Article III Sec 3.1 Erosion Revisions
DT-R Edits

C. PH-17-02 Historic Preservation Incentive Zoning (2nd Reading)
Consideration of amendments to the Historic Preservation Incentive Zoning Ordinance to remove and add historic properties to Appendix A: Historic Resources Inventory, as well as miscellaneous text amendments.

Staff Report
Council Agenda Report
Proposed Changes to Appendix A Downtown Code
Sect 2.9 Proposed Amendments
Recommended Changes to Contributing Historic Properties
Photos of Proposed Additions to Contributing Historic Properties
Photos of Proposed Removals from Contributing Historic Properties List
Waters Building Protest Letter
Ordinance

D. PH-16-12 Tree and Landscape Ordinance Amendments
This item was tabled by City Council on Monday, April 17, 2017. It will need to be removed from the table in order to be considered.
Consideration of text amendments to the UDC to consolidate landscape and tree requirements into one location within the UDC, clarify and simplify certain requirements to provide for ease of use and implementation, and provide incentives and options to save trees during land development.
Staff Report UDC 3.2 Tree Conservation Landscape a
UDC 3.2 Tree Conservation Landscape and Buffers
Guidance Document
Ordinance

E. Alcohol Code Amendments (1st reading)
AN ORDINANCE OF THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA TO AMEND CHAPTER 3 (ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES) OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA; TO DELETE, MODIFY AND ADD PROVISIONS GOVERNING THE SALE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES FOR CONSUMPTION ON THE PREMISES; TO PROVIDE EXCEPTIONS APPLICABLE TO ART STUDIOS, GALLERIES AND COOKING CLASSES FROM CERTAIN REGULATIONS GOVERNING ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION; TO DELETE, MODIFY AND ADD PROVISIONS GOVERNING ANCILLARY WINE TASTING LICENSES; TO DELETE, MODIFY AND ADD PROVISIONS GOVERNING BREWERIES; TO ADD A NEW ARTICLE XIX PROVIDING FOR THE LICENSING OF DISTILLERIES; TO PROVIDE FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Alcohol Amendment Staff report
Alcohol Ordinance Amendment
Amendment – redlined version

VIII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Kimball Bridge Road at Rock Mill Road Roundabout – Design Services
Kimball Bridge Road at Rock Mill Road Roundabout –
AECOM Proposal
Roundabout Concept

B. FY 2017 Demolition Phase I, Bid Number 17-008
FY 2017 Demolition Phase I, Bid Number 17-008
200 & 210 Milton Ave.
3395 Kimball Bridge Rd.

IX. WORKSHOP
A. Presentation and Discussion of the Recommended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget (operations/capital)
FY 2018 Budget (excerpt)

X. PUBLIC COMMENT
XI. REPORTS
XII. ADJOURNMENT TO EXECUTIVE SESSION

The Fork in the Road, Six Years Later

Yesterday I received the Alpharetta City Council Agenda for Monday night. One of the zoning cases to be heard is a 62 acre high density, mixed use urban development with 320 apartments. It is proposed for the southwest corner of Haynes Bridge and GA 400.

The land was originally zoned for a high density mixed use development called the MetLife project in 2011. I first wrote about the case more than six years ago with this article titled Alpharetta Faces the Fork in the Road. Below is a excerpt:

I hope that as the City of Alpharetta considers approving the MetLife project they will take the time to read this article which was originally published in the Atlanta Journal when MetLife first came to Alpharetta:

Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. held a grand opening this week for its headquarters in Alpharetta. The 81-acre campus, at Ga. 400 and Haynes Bridge Road in the Georgia 400 Center, is expected to hold some 800 employees in about two years. MetLife will occupy four of six floors and lease the rest. MetLife’s business in metro Atlanta includes pensions, brokerage, group insurance, real estate investments, disability insurance, securities and corporate investments. The company moved its corporate headquarters from Perimeter Center because of the increasing traffic problems there. MetLife sold Perimeter Center last year for $336 million.

The key section of the article says,The company moved its corporate headquarters from Perimeter Center because of the increasing traffic problems there. MetLife sold Perimeter Center last year for $336 million.”

So in 1998 MetLife came to Alpharetta because they had developed the Perimeter Center of Sandy Springs into a concrete jungle with disastrous traffic. Now they would like to do the same here. The Atlanta Regional Commission’s review of the proposed MetLife project shows that it will take road improvements that cost 10’s of millions of dollars just to accommodate the extra 12,000 cars a day at that intersection.

I fully expect this project to be approved because influential business interests support it and our community development department is determined to cram enough people into Alpharetta to justify a billion dollar expansion of MARTA into this city. But it is sad to see this happening in my adopted hometown.

As a community we have come to a fork in the road. We can choose growth that compliments our attractiveness as a quiet place to raise families or we can choose growth that turns us into the next Perimeter Center.

I hope we choose the path less traveled but I’m not optimistic. Wonder how long it will be before we read an article notifying us that MetLife has sold their gridlocked property on Haynes Bridge Road and moved to Forsyth County?

If you care about this decision please contact city hall today 678 297-6000.

Since that time I have written 21 other articles mentioning the parcel. In February of 2011 I wrote this article documenting the letter from MARTA explaining how they were working with the city to create the Northpoint Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) as a way to facilitate urban core densities needed to support MARTA heavy rail expansion to the area.

MARTA letter

After the mayor and city council unanimously approved the MetLife development I wrote this article explaining how the 500 acres of mixed use development planned as part of the Northpoint LCI would impact the Milton High School district. That article was written six years and one day ago. Below you can read the response it brought from Alpharetta City Councilman Mike Kennedy who still serves as the mayor’s liaison to the Alpharetta community development department:

Kennedy Blog Comment

Note that despite Councilman Kennedy’s comment that,”the likelihood of any significant apartment construction is remote for many years to come” more than 1,000 apartments were built or approved in violation of the 85/15 rule. Then last year under his direction the 85/15 apartment rule was eliminated altogether.

As recently as December of 2016  I wrote this article explaining how high density mixed use developments like the one on Monday’s agenda are projected to add more than 55,000 cars a day to roads between downtown Alpharetta and GA 400. For a city whose biggest challenge is congestion the continued approval of projects that make traffic worse is counter productive. And yet those daunting numbers quoted just months ago didn’t include the thousands of cars added by the recent application for another massive development right across the street from the MetLife/Fuqua/Peridot project to be heard Monday.

A lot has changed over the past six years. Six years ago my concerns about the urbanization of Alpharetta drove me to run for city council. Now I will be voting on the MetLife parcel rather than watching from the gallery.

Six years ago there was a crumbling remnant of a parking deck where Avalon now stands with more than a million square feet of office, retail and residential space including 525 apartments. Just this week Avalon opened its second phase and the hotel-convention center is scheduled to open next year.

Six years ago Alpharetta city council members assured me that the high density mixed use developments approved on Haynes Bridge Road, Old Milton Parkway and Windward Parkway didn’t include apartments and wouldn’t for the foreseeable future because the city had a steadfast rule to limit apartments to 15% of housing stock. Today Alpharetta has more than 1,000 more apartments built or on the way and the 85/15 rule has been eliminated completely. The latest goal with a maximum percentage of rental housing stock of 32% which continues to be ignored.

In 2011 the heavy rail MARTA station envisioned for the MetLife parcel as part of the Northpoint LCI was dismissed by Alpharetta city council members as something that, “would never happen in our lifetime.” Yet last year Alpharetta’s own State Senator Brandon Beach proposed a MARTA sales tax increase to build four heavy rail stations along the corridor of high density mixed use developments now being built in Alpharetta.

Yes much has changed over the past six years. But the thing that hasn’t changed is that our mayor and city council still find themselves facing the same fork in the road.

We could choose the heavily traveled path of least resistance by continuing to approve more high density urban developments which bring more traffic, more crime and negatively impact the great public schools we have now. Cities scattered all over metro Atlanta once stood at a similar fork and chose unrestrained growth. Now they are suffering the consequences of aging high density developments with the heavy burden of decline.

Or Alpharetta could choose to manage our growth responsibly so infrastructure has a chance to catch up with new development. We could limit the clear cutting of trees like was done in the past to preserve some mature green spaces. We could honor our stated goal to balance the housing supply and keep Alpharetta the greatest place in the state of Georgia to raise a family and do business.

Monday night we have a chance to choose a different path than the one chosen six years ago. That could make all the difference.

I just wish I was more optimistic this time around.

May you and your loved ones have a peaceful Easter weekend.

Despite Guidelines, Alpharetta Housing Growth is Dominated by Rentals

Apartments and their impact on Alpharetta have been a touchy subject for as long as I can remember. My first introduction to the issue was when a next door neighbor applied for zoning to turn his single family home into an apartment complex nearly twenty years ago and I have written 22 articles discussing apartments going back as far as  this article about urbanization and MARTA written in 2011.

For that entire time the City of Alpharetta has had specific goals regarding apartments or rental properties. There have been at least three different official goals for the city’s housing ratios that I remember. Curiously the only thing consistent about each of those standards is that they have all been ignored by the people elected to achieve them.

Alpharetta’s current housing goal as stated in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan was passed unanimously just last year. It says that the city’s goal is to maintain less than 1/3rd (32%) of our housing stock as rental properties. That ratio is to be measured by U. S. Census Bureau data. The latest numbers available are for 2015 and those numbers show that Alpharetta had 22,824 total housing units and 8,537 of them were renter occupied at the time. That means the current ratio of renter occupied homes to owner occupied homes is 37.4%.

echo-alpharetta

Which means Alpharetta had 1233 rental units more than the the city’s stated goal. To make matters worse there are already 700 more on the way if you include the additional 276 apartments opening this year in Avalon, the 168 apartments being built in front of city hall, the 129 apartments just approved on Devore Road and 111 apartments in the Echo complex on Westside Parkway. That would put Alpharetta 2,000 households over the comprehensive plan goal without even considering the 320 apartments proposed for the Fuqua project on Haynes Bridge Road or any of the senior housing facilities being built all over town. Most of the senior housing projects are not considered to be apartments.

That is a snapshot of how much Alpharetta’s percentage of rental housing exceeded the city’s guidelines in 2015. But what was the overall trend? Did Alpharetta make any progress at all in reducing rental housing ratios between 2010 and 2016? No. Quite the opposite.

The ratio of rentals to owner occupied housing in Alpharetta has gotten substantially worse since 2010. Census numbers show that Alpharetta had a total of 20,454 housing units in 2010 but that grew to 22,824 by 2015 for a net growth of 2,370 households. Of those additional households, 1,752 were identified as renter occupied which means 74% of Alpharetta’s housing growth over that time was fueled by renters.

Click on the pictures below to see the census data.

 

Such rapid growth in apartments and rental homes drove the ratio of renters to owners from 33.2% up to 37.4%. A 13% move in the wrong direction over a five year period. Once again that does not include the thousands of rentals already approved, built or on the way in the next few years and there is no reason to believe that is going to change in the near future. The number of single family homes being built compared to townhouses, condos and apartments is dwindling as available land disappears.

As mentioned earlier the topic of apartments has been a hot button issue in this city for a long time and reasonable people can disagree about the impact of attracting a much more transient population to Alpharetta. But the fact is that Alpharetta has very specific standards for what should be the appropriate mix of housing to maintain the health, safety and quality of life we enjoy…  yet the city moves further and further from those published goals every time we approve more apartments.

For those of you concerned about the impact of zoning decisions on your school district I am including maps of Alpharetta’s three largest high school districts below with numbers of apartments zoned for each. Note that there continues to be an extraordinary concentration of apartments in the Alpharetta High School district. The 6,000+ apartments zoned for Alpharetta High School is more than double those in Milton High school district and twenty one times the number of apartments in the Cambridge High School district.

Alpharetta High School – 6,161    apartment units

1617_hs_zones_alpharettahs

Milton High School – 2,381    apartment units

milton-high-school-zone-map

Cambridge High School – 292 apartment units

cambridge-high-school-attendance-zone

New Downtown Alpharetta Parking Deck Proposal

parking-banner1

Monday night the City of Alpharetta held a public meeting to unveil the new proposal for more taxpayer subsidized parking in downtown Alpharetta. It was great to see so many people show up for the meeting and most of the feedback I heard there and in the days since has been largely supportive.

Some people told me they have concerns about the cost and doubt the need for taxpayers to spend $8 million to build parking for downtown businesses. One of the commercial property owners downtown told me that the new plan still wouldn’t be enough. And others told me that the city should build all of the parking next to the cemetery and none on the Old Roswell Street site at all.

parking-deck-meeting2

But in general most of the people who took the time to share their thoughts about the new plan feel it is a reasonable compromise between the previous proposals. The new plan would build 187 new parking spaces on Milton Avenue next to the cemetery at a cost of about $5 million. It would also add 80 parking spaces on the site between Roswell Street and Old Roswell Street behind Smokejack at a cost of about $3 million bringing the total projected cost for the two decks to just over $8 million total.

I am including a few pictures here but if you aren’t familiar with the new proposal I highly recommend that you review all of the materials available on the city website here. Our staff did a tremendous job assembling all of the relevant supporting materials there.

The final decision will likely be made during Monday night’s Alpharetta City Council meeting so please take the time to look at the new plan if you haven’t already and let us know your thoughts. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

parking-deck-option-c-1

parking-deck-option-c-2

Alpharetta Downtown Parking Discussion Continues

 

downtown-parking-deck-pic1

 

Last year the City of Alpharetta began exploring options for spending more than 7 million dollars of taxpayer money to provide additional parking for downtown businesses. Several public meetings were held but no consensus was formed as to what would be the best solution. The option preferred by many of the downtown business owners was adamantly opposed by many of the residents who the parking was intended to attract.

Based on that dilemma our mayor and council decided to go back to the drawing board with the intent of developing a plan which better addressed the concerns of both the local businesses and the residents being asked to pay the bill. So over the past few months members of our community development department worked with a new design team to come up with a plan that would do a better job of balancing the needs of downtown businesses with the vision presented to us by Alpharetta residents.

On Monday, February 13th, the city will be unveiling the new idea to the public. The meeting will be held at City Hall from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

I hope that all of you will make the time to attend the unveiling. This is an important decision for our city’s future and we would very much like to hear your thoughts. Once the new design has been made public I will post it here for those of you who can’t make the meeting next week.