Alpharetta Voters Deserve to Know the Truth

VP of Development

Click above to see Owens’ online profile

Alpharetta voters deserve to know the truth. The truth is that my opponent Chris Owens is the Vice President of Development for a consulting firm that does traffic impact studies for many of the developers building projects in Alpharetta. Strangely that relationship does not show up on his campaign disclosure.

The Alpharetta City Council meeting this week included two zoning cases where developers hired Chris Owens’ firm to perform their traffic analyses. According to the analysis provided by Chris Owens’ firm those two projects will add more than 5,000 car trips to Alpharetta traffic every day.

Last year Councilman also voted to spend 6.9 million dollars of taxpayer money on a parking deck needed for one of his client’s buildings downtown.

Alpharetta residents deserve a mayor who is working for us not developers.

Click below for documentation

Roswell Street Zoning

Traffic Studies Performed by Sprinkle/Landis Evans

Lifehope building

Community Conversation: Growth & Development in Alpharetta

In an effort to make herself more available to the public and solicit feedback from the people she serves, Alpharetta’s Community Development Director will begin hosting informal monthly meetings for the public. Beginning December 13th, Kathi Cook will host a meeting on the second Wednesday of every month to talk about developments and their impact on the future of our city.

community-conversation---growth-and-development

This is a terrific idea and I applaud Ms. Cook for her initiative. These meetings will provide a unique opportunity for those of you who care about your community to hear what’s going on from the person who knows it best. And do it in a friendly, informal setting.

But Ms. Cook’s outreach can only succeed with your help. Please support her effort by helping to spread the word and by showing up at City Hall on December 13th at 6:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there.

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

What’s the point?

I have never understood the disdain most urban planners have for suburban America. My neighbors and I enjoy living in homes on about a third of an acre around a cul-de-sac.

We enjoy living in a city with low crime rates and great public schools. We like having a yard where our children and grandchildren can play catch without walking or driving to a park.

I love waking up to the sound of a dove cooing outside my window and sometimes catching a glimpse of a fox when I walk to the mailbox. I get a kick out of seeing an owl perched on top of my son’s basketball goal when I pull into my driveway at night. And even though I get frustrated when my pansies become fodder for my woodland neighbors it is thrilling to catch an offending deer in my yard and stand there waiting to see which one of us will blink first.

Yes, I love living in the suburbs and apparently my neighbors do too. Many of them are educated, relatively affluent people who moved from all over the world to call Alpharetta home. They could have chosen anywhere in metro Atlanta but they have set down roots in Alpharetta because this is where they wanted to live and raise their families.

Of course very few of us have always lived in Alpharetta. Over the years we have lived in apartments, town homes and houses in cities populated by a variety of ethnic and economic demographics in cities all over the world. Each was appropriate for that particular stage of our lives. But at no point in time did any of us ever think our preferences were superior to those of people who chose to live differently.

That’s why I’m always amazed by people who profess to know what’s best for everyone else. Especially the city planners who make a living by telling everybody else how they should live. A perfect example is Richard Florida whose book Rise of the Creative Class gained him celebrity status more than a decade ago but is now peddling a book titled The New Urban Crisis which proposes solutions to the negative consequences caused by his previous recommendations.

So it was refreshing to run across this video titled The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us the other day. The video is nearly an hour long so most of you may not have time to watch the whole thing but it provides a perspective from Joel Kotkin, a founder of the website NewGeography.com, that I have never heard explained so well anywhere else.

Joel Kotkin

If you can’t watch the whole thing you should at least watch the last four minutes. Mr. Kotkin’s response to the final question beginning at the 52:28 mark provides a poignant summary.

You can have some more density in suburban areas but if you densify them too much then whats the point?

Why would I live there?

I couldn’t agree more. An overwhelming majority of American adults people prefer to live in suburbs when given the choice. They prefer suburbs to dense urban cores.

So when great suburban cities like Alpharetta add density to the point of losing the character that makes them more attractive to us in the first place… whats the point?

What’s the point?

Question Everything

EintsteinQuestionEverything1

Almost two decades ago I was introduced to government land use and zoning policies. As I began talking to elected officials and city planners I was astounded by the misinformation used to justify the land use policies.

Almost every city official and planner I spoke to was relying on false or misleading information. I began to question everything.

When people told me that high density mixed use developments reduce traffic I asked them to prove it. But they couldn’t. Because it wasn’t true. 

When proponents of urbanization told me high density transit oriented developments would pave the way for MARTA trains that would reduce congestion I asked them to prove it. But they couldn’t. Because it wasn’t true.

When supporters of transit oriented developments told me that heavy rail would bring more jobs to Alpharetta I asked them to prove it. But they couldn’t. Because it wasn’t true.

And as I questioned claim after claim about the benefits of urbanization a website called NewGeography.com became invaluable for research. The website currently features an article about the challenges city planners face today and how difficult it is for them to respond to a rapidly changing world that doesn’t conform to many previously held biases and preconceived notions.

Below are a couple of excerpts from the article De’ja’ Vu and the Dilemma for Planners which was written by Steven Poltzin:

Planner AngstPlanner's Aspirations

 

You should read the whole article here.

Unfortunately everything is more politicized today than ever before. That is especially true of zoning decisions worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  But facts are facts even when the “conventional wisdom” of developers, consultants and urban planners may not agree.

Question everything.

Alpharetta City Council Meeting Agenda April 24, 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 two zoning cases on the agenda Monday that have generated a great deal of public interest. One is the Fuqua/Peridot/MetLife high density mixed use development with 320 apartments that was heard last week but tabled without a decision. The other is the KB400 proposal for 61 homes in a gated community at the corner of Kimball Bridge Road and Northpoint Parkway. The documents for both proposals are linked below.

I usually remind people in this space that if you would like to watch the meeting from your computer you can find it at this link. However I caution anyone who feels strongly about cases on this agenda that last week’s video feed was not available due to technicl difficulties so the only guaranteed method of seeing what happens is to join us at city hall in person.

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. CONSENT AGENDA

A. Council Meeting Minutes (Meeting of 04/10/2017)
4-10-2017 official minutes

V. APPOINTMENTS

A. Appointment of Director of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Affairs

VI. PUBLIC HEARING

A. CLUP-15-01/MP-15-01/Z-15-01/V-15-01 KB400 Master Plan/1699 Land CO. LLC

Consideration of a request to rezone approximately 12.4 acres from O-I (Office-Institutional) to R-8A/D (Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’, Attached/Detached Residential) in order to develop 61 ‘For-Sale’ detached homes in a gated community. A master plan amendment to the KB400 Master Plan Pod A is requested to add ‘Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’ Detached’ to the list of permitted uses. A Comprehensive Land Use Plan amendment is requested to change the designation of the property from ‘Corporate Office’ to ‘High Density Residential’. Variances are requested to reduce the minimum lot width and setbacks. The property is located at the southwest corner of Kimball Bridge Road and North Point Parkway and is legally described as being located in Land Lots 807, 808, 849 & 850, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Exhibit A Private Amenity Trail
Zoning Plan
Photos of Homes Fronting 4 Lane Rd
Proposed Elevations
Citizen Part B Report
Presentation at HOA
Citizen Emails
Schlinder Email
Fulton Co Schools Timeline Memo
Tree Survey
Trip Generation Report
Application

B. MP-17-04/V-17-09 AdvancED

Consideration of a request for master plan amendment to the Cousins Westside Master Plan Pod Q to allow for the construction of a 40,000 square foot office building. A variance is requested to reduce the required amount of parking. The property is located at 9115 Westside Parkway and is legally described as being located in Land Lot 690, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Site Plan 1.20.17
Application

C. PH-17-12 UDC Text Amendments (1st 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

D. PH-17-02 Historic Preservation Incentive Zoning (1st 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

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, May 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
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. Alcohol Ordinance Amendments (1st reading)
Alcohol Ordinance Amendment Report
Alcohol Ordinance Amendments
Ordinance – redline version

VIII. NEW BUSINESS

A. Mayfield Road Sidewalk Improvements, ITB 17-007
Mayfield Road Sidewalk Improvements, ITB 17-007

B. Renewal of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) concerning the processing, storage, and control of Evidence within the City Of Alpharetta by the City of Milton Police Department.
Renewal of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) c
IGA for Milton PD Evidence – renewal

 

C. Ratification and Approval of MOU Between Alpharetta and Milton For the Acquisition of Land To Be Jointly Owned and Operated As a Passive Park
Mayfield Park MOU Report
MOU

D. Approval of Service Delivery Strategy Agreement
Memo
Agreement

IX. WORKSHOP

A. Truck Routes
Truck Route Map
Examples of trucks over length restrictions
Examples of trucks over weight limit
Examples of truck under restrictions

X. PUBLIC COMMENT

XI. REPORTS

XII. ADJOURNMENT