The market for new single family residential homes is starting to show signs of life. Stalled developments are being restarted and a trickle of new zoning requests can be found in many suburban cities.
View Sharp Zoning in a larger map
Tonight Alpharetta will consider one such request from Sharp Residential in the northwest portion of the city in the vicinity of Providence and Mayfield Roads. The proposed development would be on 79 acres in three parcels that span two zoning applications. Some of the sellers are families with roots in Alpharetta that run for many generations.This in and of itself isn’t huge news. But the Sharp zoning is worth following for several reasons. Pass the popcorn, this could be interesting.
Alpharetta’s 2030 Comprehensive Land Use Plan saw final approval a year ago this week. The plan seeks to preserve residential “estate” properties in the northwest “character area”. The way this character area was defined in the plan, with extremely low density, is remarkable considering how much additional density the 2030 plan added to the rest of Alpharetta.
This area is new to Alpharetta, annexed not many years ago. It has a very Milton-esque feel to it in both the land and the concerns of the residents. Newer residential neighborhoods in the last ten years have featured larger homes on acre lots, much like in Milton just down the street. The land use plan sought to preserve this feel.
The Sharp zoning proves to be a significant test of the 2030 plan and its protection of character areas. The developer seeks to build smaller homes on 15,000 square foot lots, a density that exceeds the 2030 plan guidelines for this part of the city.
Engaged citizens – These are not the usual suspects fighting density in Alpharetta. The neighborhoods in this area are very well organized and united in their opposition to the Sharp zoning. They reached out to the developer and packed the chamber during the Planning Commission’s hearing on the matter. The meeting went past midnight.
And planning commissioners heard their voices loud and clear. They passed a very reasonable compromise with larger R-22 lots and bigger homes.
How will Council react? Pay attention to individual members during this discussion. Remember that Mayor David Belle Isle and Councilman Jim Gilvin campaigned last year on lower density. Will they hold firm on the CLUP’s guideline of lower density in this portion of the city?
Also remember that Councilmen Owens, Kennedy and Mitchell are up for re-election next year. Their votes and language during this process will be interesting to watch. Alienating citizens in the northwest portion of the city may not be judicious for these gentlemen come November 2013.
Will Alpharetta’s council side with the developer or a very united and organized community? Will NW Alpharetta, one of the last bastions of low residential density, retain that designation in the land use plan? And will these new, concerned citizens join the conversation about high residential density throughout Alpharetta? Stay tuned!