On Wednesday North American Properties presented their Avalon plans to Progress Partners, the economic development arm of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. The proposed mixed-use development was well received by the chamber and Progress Partners. Even the apartments in the plan passed muster with the group, calling them vital to the project. This is to be expected.
But the leaders behind Progress Partners went a step father. According to an article in the Alpharetta Patch, chamber leaders urged members to begin a lobbying effort. They suggested calling Alpharetta City Council members, responding to online surveys, and speaking favorably of the project during public hearings.
Progress Partners’ attempt to influence a pending zoning matter is inappropriate because the group receives taxpayer funding from the City of Alpharetta.
In December 2011 the City Council voted to enter into an agreement with the chamber and Progress Partners in an effort to further the city’s economic development plan. Part of the agreement provided for $50,000 to be paid to Progress Partners from the city’s general fund. The City Council voted unanimously to approve the deal.
Further compounding the relationship are two councilmen who also serve on the chamber’s board of directors. Michael Cross and Chris Owens both serve the chamber in their professional capacities as well as on behalf of the city.
As an agent of the city and taxpayer-funded organization, Progress Partners committed a breach of ethics when it crossed the line into political lobbying. The taxpayers of Alpharetta deserve better.