On January 23, the Milton City Council unanimously approved rezoning a small parcel of land on the east side of Hopewell Road, just north of Vaughn Road, from AG-1 (agricultural) to NUP (neighborhood unit plan).
This development of 24 homes (original plan was for 29) will be squeezed on a sliver of land of less than 7 acres located between a 130-unit retirement community currently under construction at Hopewell and Vaughn, the established Southfield neighborhood and the busy Hopewell Road. This was approved despite the City of Milton’s Planning Commission unanimous recommendation, after a one-hour public discussion, to reject both the rezoning and petition for a variance on setbacks at its December 19 meeting. In fact, that Planning Commission’s recommendation ended up being a mere footnote that was not discussed or seriously considered at the Council Meeting.
In addition, City staff acknowledged that neither Cogburn Woods Elementary School nor Hopewell Middle School can accommodate any additional students from this development and that it would also create a negative fiscal impact over 20 years.
One of the rationales for approval brought forward at the meeting was the “Highway 9/GA 400 Area Master Plan,” developed in April 2012 for Milton and Alpharetta, which is an overarching plan for a very large area (over 2,000 acres) that includes the Highway 9, GA 400 and Windward corridors. Under that plan, the 7 acres of land falls under a “transitional” area. When evaluating the rezoning petition, the Council had the opportunity to take a granular approach and judge the petition on its individual merits but, instead, used the Master Plan as one justification not to do so.
In a city that prides itself for “small-town life and heritage while preserving and enhancing its rural character,” why would the City Council and Mayor give the go-ahead to cram so many homes on a relatively small sliver of land? This goes against everything that we thought Milton stood for. There is a lot of undeveloped land in Milton, and residents should think twice when counting on their leadership to protect their quality of life and promote smart development.
Francois Coulombe and Anita Karvé