Letter from Alpharetta Residents

Before I decided to run for Alpharetta City Council I was one of those peculiar people who would closely follow decisions of our local elected officials. I would go to city council meetings. I would speak up at public hearings and write about what I witnessed on this blog.

And coming from that perspective I found one exchange during last week’s Alpharetta City Council candidate forum particularly enlightening. At the Alpharetta Business Association forum a question about the current pace and scale of development in Alpharetta was posed to both candidates.

Answering first, Mr. Easterling said he supported the current pace of growth in Alpharetta and that if there were any residents unhappy with what is going on then it is their responsibility to show up for public meetings and speak up. Mr. Burnett’s response to the same question was that in his time on the Alpharetta Planning Commission he had seen hundreds of residents show up to speak out about zoning issues only to have their views ignored so he was running to give them a voice.

I was reminded of the candidates’ very different perspectives yesterday when I received an email from two Alpharetta residents who consider themselves some of the ignored residents Ben Burnett spoke about. They are just a typical couple who care about their community and feel their views are not reflected by many recent decisions of their mayor and city council.

Neither of them have ever run for office. They don’t depend on developers to keep a roof over their heads or fund their political campaigns. They have nothing to gain by speaking out about a city council race other than the satisfaction of making their voices heard when it counts.

So I decided to post their letter here:

Why We’re Voting for BURNETT for Alpharetta City Council

We met Ben Burnett through his service on the Planning Commission, and we think he’ll be a great addition to our City Council as a true voice for homeowners (rather than developers). With the phenomenal level of new (and large, and dense) developments recently approved, he sees the need for a more balanced approach to growth, and he wants to make future decisions to guide Alpharetta in the right direction while keeping in mind the best interests of residents.

While you may not see many signs on public rights-of-way (or in developers, contractors, and other businesses yards) for Burnett, you’ll see them in residents’ yards, as his message is resonating loud and clear with Alpharetta residents. The vast majority of residents feel the current growth is too much, too fast.

While recent newspaper articles tout there’s room to grow in Alpharetta and state that all this development meets the goals of the comprehensive land use plan, these articles have quoted developers and nearby businesses as to their support of all the recent rezoning and high density development. The comprehensive land use plan provides suggestions and guidelines.

From what we’ve heard from residents, it’s not that they’re anti-growth, it’s that the amount of development is getting out of control, and the city is approving one application after the other without first knowing the repercussions from the current rezonings that are still under construction and the additional approved ones that haven’t even been started yet.

In addition to Burnett’s emphasis on a more balanced approach to growth, we appreciate his emphasis and outlook on property tax breaks for residents and addressing much-needed transportation solutions. We need Burnett to provide a fresh voice on the Alpharetta City Council!

Edward and Christine Kujawski

 

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The Beacon’s first salvo in Alpharetta’s mayoral election

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this year’s Alpharetta mayoral race kicked off when perennial politico, David Belle Isle, officially announced that he was running for that office. That announcement last week served as the starters bell for the race to begin and I knew it wouldn’t take long for candidates to come out of their corners and take a few swings at each other. This week’s first round begins with a few salvos courtesy of the local weekly The Beacon.

If you are unfamiliar with the Beacon it might help to view the weekly as the New York Post of the North Fulton area. The Beacon typically focuses on local sports and politics with incendiary headlines and aggressive verbiage like, “Current Alpharetta Councilman Jim Paine, fresh off an Election Day pummeling of Belle Isle’s political ally Monson”. The Beacon offers political reportage based on large doses of pure gossip and is often more humorous than accurate but it is always good for a chuckle. Unfortunately much of their content is only for subscribers so it doesn’t get much web exposure but this week’s political article is an exception to that rule so I recommend you check it out.

All three of the assumed candidates: David Belle Isle, Jim Paine and  Doug Derito are quoted. In the article Mr. Belle Isle makes typical statements about his platform and support but councilmen Derito and Paine do seize the opportunity to take a few shots at Mr. Belle Isle. Here are a couple of money quotes:

“He ran his last campaign [for state senate] for 18 months and finished third – or last – however you want to classify it. So long-winded losing campaigns is what he’s used to”

and

“this is the same guy who campaigned for a taxpayer funded $26 million plus city center boondoggle for a year, until the majority of the city council reigned him in with simple facts”

That is just a couple of highlights so if you are a hopeless political geek (like me) you really need to read the whole thing here. I know I shouldn’t get such a kick out of this silly stuff but it does help relieve the frustration of watching all three of these guys support another  high density mixed use project in our little town.

John Monson for Alpharetta City Council? No Thanks.

I got a robocall for Alpharetta City Council candidate John Monson today and it made me laugh out loud. The guy used to be on city council and was the driving force behind putting an ultra dense mixed use development in my children’s school district.

The Windward Mill project will add 12,000 car trips to one of the most congested intersections in Alpharetta and my neighbors in Windward packed the city council chambers with people opposed to the project. We even submitted a petition with more than 500 signatures of people opposed to the project.

Despite all of this, during the city council meeting John Monson personally handed out flyers supporting the developer. In more than a decade of zoning involvement I have never seen an elected official shill for a developer so shamelessly.

John Monson for Alpharetta City Council? No Thanks.