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.

Alpharetta Planning Commission Meeting Agenda for April 12, 2017

Below is the agenda for the April meeting of the Alpharetta Planning Commission. The meeting will take place Wednesday at Alpharetta City Hall at 6:30 p.m. If you cannot attend in person but would like to watch the broadcast live you can find it at this link.

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. APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
a. March 2, 2017 Meeting Minutes

IV. ITEMS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

V. ITEMS FROM STAFF

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
Schindler Email
Citizen Emails
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

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
DT-R Edits
Sec. 3.4 Uses Allowed by District (Boutique Hotel)
Sec 1.4 Definitions
Sec 2.2 a Cond Use Regs
Sec 2.3 Supplementary Regs
Sec 3.3 Stormwater Mgmt
UDC Article III Sec 3.1 Erosion Revisions

VII. ADJOURNMENT

High Density Mixed Use Developments Make Traffic Worse

devore-hd-mu

On December 12th the Alpharetta City Council was scheduled to hear a zoning application for the most dense development in the history of our city. The case is referred to as the Perling development on Devore Road and I have written about it previously here. At the last minute the applicant chose to defer the case until a later date so it was not heard but will presumably come to city council for a final decision in the next few weeks.

A zoning application of this scale is very complex and there are numerous consequences both intentional and unintentional resulting from such a zoning change so I spent weeks researching the case in an effort to make an informed decision. I reviewed the property owner’s zoning application, the video of the planning commission’s hearing and the report of Alpharetta’s Community Development staff who evaluated the application before recommending approval of the project with some changes and conditions. You can review those materials yourself at the links highlighted above in blue.

The Devore Road project is an example of the high density mixed use developments which are currently all the rage among commercial property owners and developers. A mixed use rezoning allows the property owner to exponentially increase the density permitted on a piece of land which then creates a corresponding increase in their property values. The increase in property value frequently amounts to tens of millions of dollars so it is no surprise that property owners, developers and the people who work for them tend to be huge supporters of such projects. That makes good business sense.

But as cities evaluate zoning applications we have the responsibility to balance the right of a property owner to develop their property with the responsibility of a municipal government to provide the infrastructure and public services for those developments in perpetuity. While a property owner and a development team can cash out after a rezoning or after the project is built the impact on the community is permanent.

So even though many developers and urban planners tend to portray high density mixed use developments as if they miraculously reduce traffic and the demand for other public services by creating a “live, work, play” environment it is our responsibility as elected officials to look beyond the sales pitch to determine the truth. The truth is that mixed use developments do not reduce the impact of development on public infrastructure and services when they exponentially increase the number of people and cars permitted on the property.

While cramming more people and cars onto a parcel of land may be good business for  property owners and can be a useful economic development tool for a city, in no way does it reduce the impact on public infrastructure and services. At best it allows a minor cost efficiency to be realized by allowing the higher amount of infrastructure and  service expenses to be spread over a smaller geographic area.

Adding tens of thousands of cars to Alpharetta roads every day does not reduce congestion. Adding thousands of apartments and homes to Manning Oaks Elementary, Northwestern Middle School and Milton High School school districts does not reduce overcrowding. Adding thousands of residents who can walk to a brewery or a restaurant serving alcohol will not reduce crime in that area.

Increased levels of density increase the demand for public infrastructure, facilities and services. It really is that simple. Yet time after time the supporters of high density mixed use developments make unsubstantiated or demonstrably false claims in an effort to convince people that mixed use developments are a solution for problems they actually make worse.

For example, in the Devore Road zoning application they request approval for a 5 story condo building with 80 units, a 6 story apartment building with 200 units and 64 townhouses in addition to more than 125,000 square feet of office space, restaurants, retail space and a brewery. So with a mixed use zoning designation the applicant wants to build 344 apartments, condos and townhouses in addition to the commercial uses which are already permitted under current zoning. All of that on less than 13 acres.

However based on the traffic study supplied by the applicant for the Devore Road development that project would add 5188 to the roads between downtown Alpharetta and GA 400 every weekday. And of those additional 5188 cars on the road 488 of them would be added during the peak morning rush hour and 384 more cars would be added during the peak afternoon rush hour.

So after traffic engineers have accounted for the “efficiency” of a mixed use development, the Perling project would add 872 more cars to Alpharetta roads during just the 2 hours when congestion is already at its most miserable. Adding 872 cars to Alpharetta roads between GA 400 and downtown during what is already the worst time for congestion does not reduce traffic. It will make traffic worse… much worse.

Yet discussing the Devore Road development in isolation doesn’t adequately illustrate the full impact mixed use developments will have on Alpharetta traffic. The mixed use development planned around City Hall should begin construction very soon. That city center development will include 168 apartments in addition to more than 100,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space. The traffic study performed for City Center estimates it will add an additional 5,893 car trips per day to downtown congestion including 880 more cars added during just the two peak rush hours.

And that’s not all. There is already another zoning application  for a high density mixed use development at the southwest corner of Haynes Bridge Road and GA 400. The hearings for that case are scheduled for February.

peridot-2

The applicant, TPA-Fuqua-Peridot, is requesting 430 apartments, 70 townhomes and more than 600,000 square feet of office, retail, hotel and restaurant space. Their traffic study projects an increase of 15,737 cars a day from the development with an additional burden of more than 3,000 cars a day during just the two worst hours of congestion each weekday.

So there are currently three urban, high density mixed use developments proposed along the Haynes Bridge corridor between downtown and GA 400. As planned those three mixed use developments are projected to add almost 27,000 car trips to traffic every weekday. Of the 27,000 extra cars on the road we can expect 4,853 of them to be added during what are already the two worst hours of congestion and that doesn’t even include additional traffic from Avalon.

Avalon is only half completed so far. The total impact of Avalon’s additional traffic once it is finished is projected to be more than 28,000 additional cars every weekday. That is even more than City Center, Devore Road and Peridot combined. So when added with those projects it will mean that high density mixed use developments on the west side town will add more than 55,000 extra cars a day between those Alpharetta residents and GA 400. It will mean almost 10,000 more cars on those roads during just the two worst hours of traffic each week day if you can imagine that.

Now obviously I can’t speak for everyone but the majority of residents I talk to about the pace of development in Alpharetta overwhelmingly agree that adding more than 55,000 extra cars a day  between downtown and GA 400 is unacceptable. But good people can disagree and there are bound to be some people who believe the economic impact of all those high density mixed use developments would be worth adding 55,000 cars to Alpharetta’s current congestion.

However, facts are still facts. And it is not acceptable for proponents of high density mixed use developments to mislead residents into thinking they will ease traffic or lessen the burden on taxpayers for providing infrastructure and services. That is just not true.

High density mixed use developments make traffic worse. There is just no denying it.

Alpharetta Planning Commission Agenda for December 1, 2016

Below is the agenda for the December meeting of the Alpharetta Planning Commission.

The meeting will take place Thursday at Alpharetta City Hall at 6:30 p.m. If you would like to watch the meeting broadcast live or if you would like to review all of the supporting materials for each case you can find them at this link. I have previously written about the high density mixed use proposal on Devore Road and you can find that article here.

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. APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
    a. November 3, 2016 Minutes

         Planning Commission 11-3-16

IV. ITEMS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

V. ITEMS FROM STAFF

VI. PUBLIC HEARING

a. MP-16-13/Z-16-11/CU-16-19/V-16-25 TPA Fuqua Development/Peridot

This item has been deferred by the Applicant. It will not be heard on December 1, 2016.

Consideration of a request to amend the Peridot (A.K.A. MetLife) Master Plan to allow 430 ‘For-Rent’ residential units, 70 ‘For-Sale’ townhome units, 51,200 square feet of retail/restaurant use, 664,400 square feet of office use, and up to a 200-room hotel. The master plan amendment also includes changes to previous conditions of zoning. A rezoning is requested on 15.51 acres from O-I (Office-Institutional) to MU (Mixed-Use) and conditional uses to allow ‘Dwelling, ‘For-Rent’ use and a bank or savings and loan use. A variance is requested to eliminate the requirement for retail under ‘For-Rent’ residential use on 2 sides of each ‘For-Rent’ building. 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.

b. Z-16-13/CU-16-20/V-16-27 Perling/13 South Main Street/DT-MU

Consideration of a request to rezone 12.913 acres from C-2 (General Commercial) to DT-MU (Downtown Mixed-Use) in order to develop 36,000 square feet of retail/restaurant use 60,500 square feet of brewery, 30,000 square feet of office use, 64 ‘For-Sale’ townhome units, 50 ‘For-Sale’ condominium units and 200 ‘For-Rent’ residential units. A conditional use is requested to allow ‘For-Rent’ residential use and to allow a residential density of 24.317 dwelling units per acre. A variance is requested from UDC Section 2.7.0(b) to delete the requirement for an on-site neighborhood grocery, as well as variances from UDC Appendix A, Alpharetta Downtown Code to increase the allowable height, allow a different architectural style, increase the maximum building setback, and increase the maximum façade length. The property is located at 13 South Main Street and is legally described as Land Lots 693, 694, 695, and 696, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
Applicant’s Response to Conditions
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Revised Site Plan 11.21.16
Tree Survey 10.18.16
Downtown Main Overall Site Rendering
Proposed Architectural Styles
Townhome Elevation w Brick Added
Townhome and Single Family Proposed Elevations 11.21.16
For Rental Elevation 11.21.16
North View of For Rental and TH
Traffic Study
Citizen Email
Letter from Resident
Citizen Part B Report
Specimen Tree Report
Trip Generation Report
Application

c. MP-16-14/Z-16-15 Notting Hill Old Milton Holdings MU

Consideration of a request to rezone approximately 2.9 acres from R-12 (Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’ Residential) and DT-LW (Downtown Live-Work) to MU (Mixed-Use) in order to develop 48 ‘For-Sale’ condominium units and 36,000 square foot office building. A master plan amendment is requested to the Old Milton Holdings Master Plan to change previous conditions of zoning and add property to the master plan. The property is located at the southwest corner of Thompson Street and Park Street and is legally described as being located in Land Lot 749, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia

Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Site Plan 11.8.16
Conceptual Residential Elevations
Conceptual Office Elevations
Tree Survey 11.7.16
Arborist Report 11.8.16
Sight Distance
Citizen Part B
Revised Letter of Intent
Application

d. CU-16-22/PH-16-17/V-16-32 SABRI GUVEN

Consideration of a request to change previous conditions of zoning to allow for the expansion of the existing retail center and a freestanding office building. A request for a conditional use permit to allow a dress shop within 25% of an office building in the O-I (Office-Institutional) zoning district. A variance is requested to reduce the front and side setbacks in the O-I zoning district. The property is located at 2225, 2245 and 2255 Old Milton Parkway and is legally described as Land Lot 748, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
2008 Zoning Conditions
Site Plan with Open Space Calculations
Open Space Plan
2008 Zoning Plan
Elevations1
Elevations2
Tree Report
Tree Accessment
Tree Photos
Application

e. PH-16-18 UDC CHANGES – SMART STORMWATER CODE

Consideration of text amendments to the Unified Development Code to implement smart stormwater strategies.

Council Agenda Report
Stormwater Extent of Services Policy
Storm Water Design Manual
UDC Appendix A Sec 2
UDC Appendix A Sec 3
Article II Sec 2.2.5
Article II Sec 2.3.5
Article II Sec 2.5
Article II Sec 2.5.5
Article III Sec 3.1.1
Article III Sec 3.2.7
Article III Sec 3.3.1
Article III Sec 3.3.14
Article III Sec 3.3.8
Article III Sec 3.5.2 3.5.3 3.5.4
Article III Sec 3.7.2

VII. ADJOURNMENT