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

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.

Urbanization of Alpharetta Continues

peridot-2

 

Once again a zoning application has been filed for another high density mixed use development with hundreds of apartments at the southwest corner of Haynes Bridge Road and Georgia 400. This is just the most recent of several proposals planned for this property since Alpharetta’s City Council began an unprecedented push for urbanization in 2006.

This latest proposal would be similar in scale to Avalon adding 430 apartments, 70 townhomes and more than half a million square feet of offices, restaurants and retail. And in fact it was the rezoning of the MetLife parcel to high density mixed use in 2011 that drove me to run for city council against a council member who voted for it so I have written about the property extensively.

Below are links to some of those articles for those of you interested in the history of the Peridot/MetLife parcel.

I began writing those posts in 2011. A lot has changed since then.

Back in 2011 I wasn’t an elected official. I was an Alpharetta resident who cared deeply about this community and was frustrated by a mayor and city council who unanimously ignored the pleas of moderation from me and my neighbors.

Back in 2011 the Alpharetta city council members would at least pretend they didn’t support high density developments that made traffic worse and negatively impacted our quality of life. Back then they would tell us that the high density mixed use developments they approved would never have apartments because “for the foreseeable future” the city wasn’t going to violate the 85/15 ratio of homes to apartments outlined in their Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Back in 2011 we had no way of knowing “the foreseeable future” was less than a year away. Now just five years later more than 1000 apartments have been built or approved in urban, high density mixed use developments and the 85/15 rule is a distant memory.

But one thing that hasn’t changed. There is still a concerted effort to urbanize Alpharetta at the expense of our schools and the quality of life that attracted people from all over the world to raise their families and do business here.

So once again I look forward to the opportunity of discussing this unrelenting effort to urbanize Alpharetta as it relates to a parcel that has figured prominently in MARTA’s plan to bring a heavy rail station to the site with the help of developers and elected officials.

Alpharetta Planning Commission faces urbanization in Milton High School District… again

Tonight the Alpharetta Planning Commission will review an application for another high density mixed use project with more than 400 apartments in the Milton High School District. It seems like just yesterday I was standing in front of the Alpharetta City Council explaining this would happen if they approved the original application.

But that was way back in 2011 when city council members supported the Comprehensive Plan’s goal of a 85% to %15 ratio of single family homes to apartments and told me there was no effort to bring heavy rail MARTA to this city. Recently a resident who remembers those discussions asked me to repost an article I wrote as a concerned resident and local blogger. So in light of this historic occasion I give you this golden oldie from distant past of February, 2011:

Why would Alpharetta trade 1800 jobs for 500 condos? MARTA

Below is a letter submitted by MetLife to justify the Peridot project proposed for Alpharetta. The new project would remove more than 1800 potential jobs from the site in return for building 500 condominiums. Why would the Alpharetta City Council do that? I will let Mr. Ikwut-Ukwa of MARTA’s planning office explain:

“MARTA is also working with the City of Alpharetta to initiate an LCI for the North Point Mall area as part of a proposed north line rail extension. In the past the City of Alpharetta had also 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 to the density in the area, making for a better transit supportive environment.”

For at least five years the City of Alpharetta has been working with MARTA to increase the density of our city so they can justify bringing trains here. Funny, I don’t remember Alpharetta voters being asked about that. It must have happened at a charade charrette.

IF an Alpharetta mayoral or city council candidate comes knocking on your door this summer to ask for your vote don’t forget to tell them how you feel about the urbanization of Alpharetta to lure MARTA. Obviously they think it is a good idea. They just don’t want you to know.

Let the fun begin!

Last week I qualified to run for a second term on the Alpharetta City Council and no one registered to oppose me. So barring unforeseen circumstances I have again been granted the opportunity to serve as the elected representative of the 60,000+ people who call Alpharetta home. For that I will always be grateful.

And as I continue the work begun in 2012 I am determined to do a better job of keeping the public informed during this next term. One of the best ways I can think to do that is using this blog to update and interact with the people of Alpharetta about issues affecting our city.

A few years before I considered running for office this blog was created to let people know about current events which shape the future of this place we call home. Over time it was the insight gained from writing those articles that drove me to public service. I could no longer just stand by and report as the relentless pressure to urbanize Alpharetta threatened to destroy the quality of life that makes it so special.

Back in 2008 a recession brought urbanization to a grinding halt for a while. Three enormous mixed use developments approved during the previous real estate bubble sat dormant and the people who were pushing for Alpharetta to be just another urban core with bad schools, high crime and MARTA stations were nursing badly depreciated investments.

The biggest concern for our city council at that point was how we could breathe life back into our local economy… and we did. But our success has again fueled a determined few to rejoin their quest of turning Alpharetta into a dense urban core.

In the last four years more than 1000 new apartments have been built or approved in the City of Alpharetta. And our community development department is recommending 400+ more in an urban mixed use development already approved for Milton High School district. All of this is added to the hundreds of townhouses and single family homes on tiny lots that have also been approved. This type of urban density threatens our schools and crowds our roads. We have to be more careful or Alpharetta is going to end up just like any other concrete jungle at the end of a MARTA line.

As a community we cannot build a wall around Alpharetta and refuse to change. But as a community we need to evolve in ways consistent with the vision of the people who live and vote here. That is the only way we can assure Alpharetta will remain the greatest place to do business and raise a family in the state of Georgia.

So it is time to revive GA Jim. I have to do a better job of letting all of you know about the issues shaping our city’s future so it is once again time for me to host this forum called GA Jim.

To foster a healthy discussion commenting is encouraged but understand this is not an official City of Alpharetta website. This website belongs to me and while I hope you will use it to exchange information and views this will all be conducted at my discretion. Any disrespect shown to me, other commenters, elected officials or city employees will not be tolerated. Life is too short for that kind of crap.

So let the fun begin!

City of Alpharetta invites you to see their 30 pieces of silver

The city of Alpharetta issued a press release today inviting residents to come see their new plans for the Northpoint LCI center. Below is the release:

Open House Announced For Encore Parkway Improvements

Released on: Monday, April 11, 2011 10:00 AM

Major improvements are underway for Encore Parkway from Westside Parkway to North Point Parkway. Plans include widening Encore Parkway to include a newly designed bridge as it passes over Georgia 400 and shoulders that will house 6-foot buffer planter strips and an 8-footwide sidewalk/bike lane. To connect the newly constructed sidewalks and bike lanes on Encore Parkway to the Big Creek Greenway trail system, sidewalks and shared lanes will be established along the eastern side of North Point Parkway. The project will also incorporate enhancements such as trees, landscaping, lighting and furniture.

The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to unveil the visual elements of the proposed project at a Public Information Open House & Detour Meeting to be held between 5:00pm and 7:00pm on April 26th at the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce (located at 11605 Haynes Bridge Road, Suite 100, Alpharetta, GA). Residents are encouraged to stop by as the presentation is informal and will provide more details on the project and planned detour routes.

What the city fails to mention is that the projects discussed in the press release are a quid pro quo for the city’s adaptation of the Northpoint Area Livable Centers Initiative which includes the MetLife high density mixed use development. Back in 2008 the Mayor of Alpharetta, Arthur Letchas, and the City Council knowingly chose to accept the urbanization of our city in exchange for 4 million dollars worth of improvements in the Northpoint area. Now that the city has approved the MetLife project they can show us the precious new projects that they got in exchange for urbanization.

So if you live in Alpharetta and want to see why our City Council continues to approve high density mixed use projects please stop by and decide for yourself if the urbanization was worth it. While you are there you might also want to ask Department of Transportation board member Brandon Beach how spending that 4 million dollars is going to help relieve congestion for you and your family.

High density mixed use means high traffic… period

A local blog called New Urban Roswell serves as a platform for blogger Mike Hadden to tout the various urban planning concepts he supports. Mike is a knowledgeable guy and often makes some good points as he did in this post entitled “Traffic Misconceptions”. The article does clear up some common misconceptions but unfortunately it also perpetuates one about mixed use housing.

The truth is that high density mixed use means high traffic… period. But when it comes to the fans of high density mixed use developments they all seem to display an “Imperviousness to evidence” as characterized by Mona Charen in this article at National Review online.

Here is what Mike wrote:

High Density Development Creates Traffic – This one is legitimate under the assumption that you pack people into condos and create a
dense SINGLE USE environment. Single use environments are a sure fire way to create traffic.

I know that mixed use fanatics want that statement to be true but that doesn’t make it so. Look at the actual numbers.

According to the traffic analysis submitted for the MetLife mixed use development in Alpharetta they will build 532 units of high density housing on approximately 8 acres of land. That is a lot of units for 8 acres but each condominium does create fewer vehicular trips than a single family home and they even get a 2% trip reduction factor for being in a mixed use development.

Now let’s compare that to the horrible old sprawl that urban planners abhor but the people in Alpharetta love to call home. To be generous we will say that “sprawl” would create a density of 4 units per acre. That number is awfully high if you are going to put in some of those loathsome cul de sacs but we’ll give the mixed use fanatics the benefit of the doubt. That means that 32 single family homes could be built on the same 8 acres of land that MetLife will use to cram in 532 units. That is 500 more families on 8 acres of land.

So how do 500 additional families reduce traffic? They don’t and the dirty little secret is that any urban planner worth their salt knows it. High density mixed use is just a way for developers to make more money and urban planners to achieve their other goals of mass transit and affordable housing.

Let’s look at the traffic numbers. MetLife submitted a traffic analysis that shows the 532 condos were expected to create about 3,000 additional trips from 8 acres of land. Single family homes usually cause about twice as many trips as condos so we could have expected about 180 trips if the property had been developed as a typical Alpharetta neighborhood. That means the MetLife condos added 2,820 more car trips than single family homes would have. That’s a 1466% increase in traffic!

There is an old saying that goes something like this, “Don’t pee on my head and tell me it’s raining”. Well just to be safe the next time a fan of a high density mixed use development tells you that it will reduce traffic I suggest you have an umbrella handy.