Earlier I covered curious events surrounding a presentation to the Alpharetta City Council by Mr. Brandon Beach. Mr. Beach is a board member of the Georgia Department of Transportation and also serves as the CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce as well as Director of the North Fulton CID which represents the commercial property owners in the Northpoint Parkway area of Alpharetta.
You can read the previous posts here and here for more details. But after Mr. Beach decided not to present his transit plan to our city council you can imagine my surprise when I heard that he had instead chosen to present the plan on WSB’s newscast last night. You can see the clip by clicking on the picture below.
I have seen Mr. Beach give a similar presentation but it didn’t mention taking the train through my neighborhood to Duluth. Needless to say I am not a fan of expanding costly and inefficient trains through my neighborhood and now I understand why he didn’t even bother presenting the plan to our City Council.
In a completely unrelated matter I noticed a few pictures of Mr. Beach in the Alpharetta Revue today. The odd thing was that standing right there with Brandon was Penn Hodge, the developer that owns the land adjacent to the Windward MARTA property. Looked like they were having a great time together at the Ritz Carlton. Small world isn’t it?
But back to the matter at hand, I did like one part of the WSB news story. The clip where Mr. Beach says,”You’ve got Windward… up here… with jobs.” The rest of the clip… not so much.
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?
Penn Hodge is the developer that was instrumental in bringing the Verizon Amphitheater to Alpharetta and coincidentally applied for a 15 story condominium on Windward Parkway a few months later. The condo tower will be part of the Windward Mill high density mixed use project that has been stalled for years. Once the Alpharetta City Council approved his project Mr. Hodge touted its density as unthinkable by area standards.
Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann has now appointed the strip mall impressario from Johns Creek to the Development Authority of Fulton County. Ms. Hausmann is quoted in the Alpharetta Revue here as saying:
“Penn Hodge’s impressive economic development background and his service as a member of the Economic Development Board for the State of Georgia will bring tremendous value to all of Fulton County,”
The urbanization of North Fulton County continues. Full speed ahead!