Sharp Residential – a zoning to watch

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!

53 Responses to “Sharp Residential – a zoning to watch”

  1. tom sharp November 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    The city council voted 6-1 tonite(gilvin the only dissenter) to basicly approve what the developer asked for. It is very clear that this city council is pro development and growth. They went against the recommendations of their own planning commission and against the 2030 land use plan developed last year.

    For those of you that live on Nw Alpharetta….please show this city council how you feel with emails and your vote when they are up for re-election!

  2. Charlotte Drive November 27, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    Compare/Contrast the conditions put on the Charlotte Drive rezoning. Such care for the trees and land disturbance. Note: Councilman Owens lives off Charlotte Drive.


    Council Member Kennedy offered a motion to approve PH-10-09: Charlotte Drive / Andre Murdock, subject to the following conditions:
    1.
    Lots on Charlotte Drive shall remain with a “R-22” zoning classification and a “Very Low Density” land use designation. For the purpose of preserving specimen trees, interior lots shall be zoned R-15 and have a “Low Density” land use designation.
    2.
    Development density shall be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan with a maximum of up to 29 home sites to be developed on the property.
    3.
    Homes shall be designed and placed on each lot so that they remain out of the critical root zones of the specimen trees to be preserved except as provided for in the City Tree Ordinance and Condition #4.
    4.
    There shall also be no construction within the critical root zones of the specimen trees within 100’ of Charlotte Drive frontage except as provided for in the City Tree Ordinance.
    5.
    The site plan shall be developed substantially similar to the plan dated June 24, 2010 prepared by Brumbelow-Reese and Associates and all specimen trees on Lots four (4) and five (5) will be saved including the 51” and 26” Oaks. All specimen trees on lots 16, 17, 18 and 29 shall also be saved.
    6.
    Specimen trees shall be studied to determine if preventative care should be given to the trees prior to the issuance of an LDP. Recommended care program shall be the developer’s responsibility with final approval by the Arborist.
    7.
    Homes shall have a minimum of 3,200 square feet of conditioned space above grade.
    8.
    Homes developed along Charlotte Drive shall have building setbacks of 100’ in order to preserve the specimen trees except Lot 1 which shall be permitted a 65’ setback to align with existing homes in Emerson Hall and Lot 18, which shall have a minimum 80’ setback..
    9.
    Building sites located on Charlotte Drive shall be a minimum of 100’ in width and homes developed on those lots shall face Charlotte Drive with front elevations parallel to that roadway. Lot 29 shall be accessed from the internal street. Lots 16, 17 and 18 shall have the option of access from
    Alpharetta City Council
    Summary of 07/26/2010 Public Hearing
    Page 12 of 14
    Charlotte Drive or internally, however no driveways shall be constructed within the critical root zones of specimen trees.
    10.
    Any internal street greater then 500 feet in length shall incorporate traffic calming measures in its design, as approved by the Engineering Department.
    11.
    All internal roadways shall be public, dedicated streets. Decel lanes shall not be required in order to save specimen trees.
    12.
    70% of the home exterior finish material shall be brick, stone, or shingle..
    13.
    The rear elevation of the homes shall be designed to be no more than three-story in appearance from external roadways and the front elevation shall be designed to be no more than two stories in appearance from external roadways.
    14.
    Fencing along Charlotte Drive shall be limited to 4 board horse fencing.
    15.
    In order to preserve the rural character of Charlotte Drive, curb and gutter shall not be provided along that roadway. The sidewalk along Charlotte Drive shall consist of low impact material that shall be approved by Staff and may meander in order to provide the least impact to the CRZ. Internal sidewalks shall also be of similar low impact material approved by staff.
    16.
    A minimum 10’ maintenance/construction easement to the detention pond accessed internally shall be provided with location approved by Staff. The pond and easement shall be maintained by the HOA.
    17.
    The main road through the subdivision shall be designed and built so that it can be extended through the adjacent property to the south. The road shall be paved to City standards ending at the property line subject to grading requirements and shall not be built as a cul-de-sac. Final plat shall be demarcated to identify road and include language that states the road is “a public roadway for future connection and interparcel access”. Applicant shall be required to post a sign on this lot, during construction and sale of homes, indicating that there shall be a future roadway connection.
    18.
    Roadways and drives shall meet the Fire Prevention Code.
    19.
    Site work, land clearing and grading shall be done on a lot by lot basis after the footprint of each house has been determined in order to minimize the impact of development on the land. No mass grading shall be permitted.
    20.
    Applicant shall consider specimen understory trees as well as overstory specimen trees when final lots and home foot prints are developed.
    21.
    Stream buffers shall comply with all environmental ordinances. Impervious surfaces (roads, houses, driveways, patios, rooftops, etc.) should drain to detention/water quality pond. Any modifications for an alternate plan must be submitted to and approved by the Engineering Department.
    22.
    Future flood study may be required based on the Unified Development Code.
    23.
    All zoning conditions shall be noted on the subdivision plat.
    24.
    At the time of closing when each home is sold, the developer shall submit to Staff a notarized document signed by the home purchaser acknowledging
    Alpharetta City Council
    Summary of 07/26/2010 Public Hearing
    Page 13 of 14
    that a copy of the final plat for the entire subdivision was given to them and all tree save areas, buffer requirements, future roadway connections and zoning conditions were identified and were understood.
    25.
    The name of the main entrance road into the subdivision shall reflect the family history of the property

    The motion received a second from Council Member Owens

    Council Member Owens offered a friendly amendment to add two conditions
    o
    Developer and / or builder shall submit a detailed landscape plan for any lot including a specimen tree said plan shall address hand clearing of underbrush and invasive species and highlight specimen trees on the plan, incorporating them into each lot design.
    o
    Low impact sidewalks shall be 4” concrete over gravel base as detailed in sidewalk exhibit as prepared by HGOR and dated August 24, 2007

    Council Member Kennedy accepted the friendly amendment

    The motion passed by unanimous vote (4-0-0)

  3. @tom sharp November 27, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    pro development and growth is great so long as it fits. this doesn’t.

  4. Travis Allen November 27, 2012 at 6:40 am #

    You mean they were actually supposed to listen to the recommendations of the planning commission and follow the 2030 CLUP? I thought those were just for show…oh wait, apparently they were…

  5. Arthur November 27, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I have worked in the Norcross area for 13 years. I go to church on the east side of 400. 9 years ago I moved to NW Alpharetta area specifically because of the rural, spacious feel. While east side of 400 is more convenient to work/church, the west side has a different feel that we really like.

    The 2030 land use plan was intended to help preserve this, but it is clear that the Alpharetta City Council does not care to preserve this. They want NW Alpharetta to be like the east side of 400 (ie. Kimble Bridge road area).

    I realize that growth and more development will occur, but the City Council could have easily compromised last night by required R22 lot size on this new development, instead of 1/3 acre size they have approved. This would have been acceptable to the surrounding homeowners of the proposed development.

  6. Lee November 27, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    I watched the meeting online last night. What jumped out at me the most was how far apart Council and the Planning Commission were. Does the Planning Commission have a flawed interpretation of city land use plans? I wouldn’t think that to be the case as many on this committee have been doing this for years. Or did Council have additional facts on this matter than the Planning Commission didn’t? I’m thinking the latter. Perhaps someone on Council can answer this question.

  7. Hopewell Rd. November 27, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    The city of Milton will be discussing the rezoning of a parcel of land on Hopewell near Vaughan (just next to the new assisted living facility going up) Wednesday night. Beazer Homes wants to squeeze 29 homes into a relatively small lot directly on Hopewell. Again, what happened to slow growth, low density and the rural charm of Milton? I guess 29 new property tax payers trumps all of that.

  8. Arthur November 27, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Lee,

    What is interesting is the Planning Commission is selected by the City Council. So, if the Planning Commission and the City Council are this far off, what is the purpose of the Planning Commission? Why is the City Council putting people on the Planning Commission that differ so greatly from their own views/position?

    Arthur

  9. Providence Road November 27, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Alpharetta & Milton residents: If the land is in close proximity to sewer and can be connected to sewer it WILL be developed at higher density. That is the message sent last night. The only lots in Sharp’s whole plan that are an acre are 2 lots that have to be on septic.

  10. greg November 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Michael Cross is telling me the minimum lot size is 20k ft2, so just shy of 1/2 acre, but not 1/3 as stated above. Still not estate homes as I understand the 2030 plan calls for.

  11. A Neighbor November 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Kyle Caswell on the PC and Comp Land Use Steering Committee admitted the map was out of sync with their intent for the NW Character Area. Both he and Karen Richard argued for setting the north Bates tract to 1 acre.

    A glaring spotlight shines on why we even have the Planning Commission if this is their role. Stop pretending and clean up unneeded bureaucracy.

    Thank you Planning Commission for reasoning through the facts instead of playing politics. Maybe all of you should be sitting on Council instead of PC.

  12. Kim November 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Greg,
    I don’t believe Michael is correct. I and other who were there thought we heard 20,000sf AVG which is much different than 20,000sf MINIMUM. It was discussed at length.

    Council basically asked Sharp what his average lot size was on each of the parcels and then they gave them that on everything with the exception of maybe losing a lot or two on the north parcel due to the 3/4 acre abutting lot requirement. Otherwise, Sharp pretty much got exactly what he walked in with.

    Sharp/Edwards made it sound like they had compromised. They did not. They first brought an application with R12 on the Johnson tract which was ridiculous as there is nothing in the NW area with that size. It was an insult. R15 is where they should have started, not ended. Likewise on the north parcel, they originally began with R15. They only changed it to R22 because the FLU map required it. It was not like they made some grand compromise on their own. They had to do it. Sharp/Edwards/Rolader misled about all of that. That is like coming to the table with a highrise in the middle of a farm and then say you compromised because you came down to R10. It is a logical fallacy…. but it worked for them.

  13. greg November 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Kim,

    I talked with Chris Owens and you are correct–it is 20K average. He did state that the North Bates parcel is all R-22, however.

  14. Lee November 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    @Greg – I emailed Mr Cross this afternoon. He is following a script that is very similar to what Mr Kennedy is saying (and probably others). They are leaning on the “average” lot size they wrote in as a condition last night. The planning commission didn’t have such language in their conditions. Don’t be confused by the use of this word “average”. The fact of that matter is that Council approved lot sizes down to 15,000 square feet in the most rural part of town. The developer received the zoning he was seeking, contrary to desire of the PC and neighboring residents.

    I’m disappointed in Alpharetta’s Council for using what amounts to be talking point semantics today when dealing with residents and the press. This fine city deserves better.

  15. Kim November 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Averages = obfuscation. Bottom line R15 (15,000sf minimum) on Johnson and South Bates, and R22 (22K minimum) on North Bates. The only reason they went R22 on the north parcel is b/c that was the minimum allowed for that tract.

    Cul-de-sac lots are always a little bigger by default which brings up the average. I’d venture a guess that ANY R15 neighborhood has 20,000sf averages. Deception. Sleight of hand.

    They are just unwilling to face the constituents and say, “We’re putting 15,000 square lots in a rural area regardless of what is right, what you think or prior promises…. deal with it.”

  16. B November 28, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    Would be interesting to check/monitor campaign contributions related to those involved in this deal.

  17. @B November 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    It comes in the form of business contracts and favors, my dear. Direct contributions are for rookies.

  18. Jimmy November 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Lee,

    Do we know what the proposed list price is for these homes? What is the square footage (inside) of the homes?

  19. Kevin November 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    In regards to the Beazer zoning in Milton, Beazer is requesting minimum lot size of 5000 sf for the 29 homes near the intersection of Hopewell/Vaughan with a minimum heated square footage of 2000 sq feet.

    If you look at this location on a map it is a 2 mile drive from the Sharp Zoning, but it is physically separated by only about a 1/2 mile (if there was a road that went directly between the 2 points). Given the large opposition to lots 3 times as big, it will be interesting to see what happens with this zoning as well.

  20. Lee November 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    @B – I’m not aware of any campaign contributions from parties close to this transaction, but I could be wrong. You can go to ethics.ga.gov and search the filings.

    I’ve not observed political contributions from those with zoning matters before Alpharetta’s Council (at least not recently). The only exception I’d make is that employees from North American Properties (Avalon) kicked in a few bucks to Jim Paine’s campaign last year. I wrote about it here.

    The families involved in this zoning have deep roots here and some own commercial real estate in town.

  21. Mike Kennedy November 29, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    If it saves time, I checked this morning and have $8 in my campaign account. I don’t do any business (those big contracts) with Mr. Rolader, Mr. Sharp, the Burgesses or the Johnsons. Even though his family has deep roots in town, I met Mr. Burgess for the first time at the council meeting Monday night. Seems like a nice enough guy. I’ve never even met the Johnsons.

  22. Michael Cross November 29, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    @B (and anyone who is interested), I do not have any historic or current business relationship with anyone involved in the zoning application, though Mr. Burgess did serve on the Development Authority for some of the time while I did as well.

    No one involved in the zoning application contributed to my campaign. In fact, at the end of the campaign, I had to use personal funds to take care of expenses that exceeded contributions. My campaign account is closed.

    I’m not aware of any reason for the Council’s vote other than this – the majority of the Council, after considering the information presented, believed the application should be approved with various conditions.

    I appreciate everyone’s interest in Alpharetta, and I hope the decision on this application allows a few more families to join our wonderful community.

  23. Arthur November 29, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Mike,

    Can you clarify then why you rebuffed the recommendations from the Planning Commission? A public explanation as to why the City Council made this decision is owed to the constituents.

    Arthur

  24. greg November 29, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    I emailed Mayor Belle Isle and his reply contained the following conclusion:

    “But let me just say this: I grew up on a 1/3 of an acre, smaller than what was approved, and I presently live on 1/3 of an acre. I do not now and never have considered such a lot as “high density”.”

    I replied and asked him if he considered 1/3 acre low to low low density (what the plan calls for) and am awaiting a reply.

    I also asked if the low density growth he campaigned on was reflected by 1/3 acre lots. He says folks are mischaracterizing his campaign to find hypocrisy.

  25. speck of truth November 29, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    There was another rezoning decision Monday night on a parcel located on Cogburn Road, only opposition was from a homeowner in Hopewell Plantation. It was a lower density use than had previously been proposed for the property (medium density detached rather than townhome), but it was rezoned CUP to allow flexibility in lot size and thereby saving specimen trees (which is great but developer will receive impact fee credits for this). Mr. Owens mentioned not wanting to get into the habit of rezoning CUP in this way (CUP is meant for zoning in master planned developments). There is another rezoning on the calendar for property on Rucker Road abutting Crabapple Chase neighborhood. Guess what is being requested? Rezoning to CUP with change to CLUP from low density to medium density. This one will be interesting to watch. Do we need a change to the UDC to further define CUP? It was not meant for small parcels of AG land to be packed with homes in order to “save” natural resources so the developer can get impact fee credits further driving up their profit margin.

  26. Michael Cross November 29, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    @Arthur. I can’t speak for all of Council, but I’ll share my thoughts. The Planning Commission recommended against 15,000 square foot lot sizes for Bates South and the Johnson tract, recommending 22,000 square foot lots instead. I voted for 20,000 square foot lots.

    The Planning Commission recommended against 22,000 square foot lot sizes for Bates North. I voted for the border lots to be on 3/4 acre lots and for the interior lots to be 26,000 square feet.

    The Planning Commission recommended that the houses adjacent to Providence Place and the Oaks at Harrington have brick or stone on all four sides and that setbacks be greater than those required for R-15 and R-22 property. I voted similarly in support of these and other conditions.

    I appreciate the work of the Planning Commission. The members work hard, and the information they obtain and the recommendations they make help make Alpahretta better. I recognize, however, that as an elected official I am responsible for making the best decision I can, and I cannot delegate my decision-making to others.

    Though there is some disagreement as to the decision, I feel quite lucky to live in a City where our most fervent argument this month involves how large the lots must be where half million dollar homes are to be constructed. There are very few places in the world that have the blessing of a problem such as this.

  27. Lee November 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Mr Cross, you’re comparing averages to minimums. The PC approved 22k MINIMUM lots in two parcels, you approved 15k minimums with 20k averages. The PC’s conditions didn’t even mention average lot size. Telling constituents that you approved 20k lots compared to 22k is obfuscating the facts. If you were deposing a witness and they testified in such a way I’m sure you would jump all over that mistake immediately. I’d be fired if I did this at work with my boss or clients. I’m disappointed that misleading figures are being used in this manner to constituents.

  28. Lee November 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Actually, all I would like answered is… why wouldn’t Council (save Mr Gilvin) consider R22 on the entire development?

  29. Leslie Dyer November 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Below is a wrap up of the results of the Council Meeting:

    Why are the Residents of the Northwest Alpharetta outraged?

    This northwest quadrant of Alpharetta is still relatively rural. The City of Alpharetta in its 2030 Comprehensive Plan felt that this area is so important to the City that it specifically stated that “the ‘horse-farm’ and estate quality of the area should be preserved.” Additionally, the Plan stated as a land use strategy that the City is to “preserve the residential estate properties in Northwest Alpharetta and the Big Creek Overlook community by maintaining development densities that are generally at much lower levels than that of the rest of the city.”

    Sharp Residential proposed a 108 home development on three non-contiguous parcels (North Bates, South Bates, and Johnson) totaling 79 acres off Mayfield and Bates Roads. The developer’s purchase of the properties was contingent upon the zoning of the land from existing agriculture (AG) zoning. The land is owned by long time, very well connected, residents and their families– the Johnsons, Burgess, Duncan and Rogers.

    About 150 people attended the 5-hour Planning Commission meeting on November 1, 2012 and the 4 hour City Council meeting on November 26, 2012. The constituents voiced their concerns about the development and asked the Planning Commission and the City Council to deny the development as proposed. The constituents made it clear to the Planning Commission and the City Council that they were not against smart development, the developer, nor the price of the homes. The main issue was development of lot sizes that are consistent with the surrounding area and preserving the estate properties in the northwest neighborhood, as required by the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

    The constituents brought to City Council’s attention, not only the requirements stated in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, but the following facts:
    • North and South Bates tracts are surrounded by minimum 1 acre lot properties. Johnson tract is surrounded by properties with a minimum lot size of 19,737 sq. ft. in Mayfield and 30,000 sq. ft. in Alpharetta Estates.
    • Fulton Co. Future Land Use map, pre-annexation, had designated North Bates at 1 unit or less per acre.
    • All subdivisions built since 1998 (the last 14 years) the Mayfield and Providence Rd corridor of the Northwest Neighborhood area have been minimum 1 acre lot sizes.
    • The land being considered for rezoning is some of the last available agriculture land in Northwest Neighborhood area available for preservation.

    Sharp Residential proposed R-15 zoning (minimum 15,000sq.ft. lots), for the Johnson and South Bates tracts. The constituents asked for minimum 22,000 sq. ft. lots (R-22 zoning) to respect the surrounding properties of Mayfield and Alpharetta Estates. The Planning Commission recommended R-22 zoning. The City Council approved R-15 zoning with an average of 20,000 sq. ft. for each of the tracts. Councilman Kennedy stated, in his interview on Channel 2 on November 27, 2012, that they [City Council] gave almost ½ acre lots in the development. That is very misleading becauseone half acre lot is 22,000 sq. ft. The proposed site plan by Sharp Residential for the Johnson Tract averages 18,123 sq. ft. and the South Bates averages 20,060 sq. ft., but on the two tracts, 72% of the homes (54 of 75) are less than ½ acre. If the City Council felt obligated to keep the R-15 zoning, the 20,000 sq. ft. requirement should have been a minimum not an average. There is a big difference between “minimum” and “average” which the City Council does not want to recognize. The City Council willfully ignored both its’ constituents and the Planning Commission.

    For the North Bates Tract, Sharp Residential proposed R-22 zoning, although the entire tract is surrounded by minimum one acre lots (43,560 sq. ft.). The 2030 Comprehensive Plan Map allows zoning of one acre lots (Zoned R) and the constituents asked for one acre lots. The Planning Commission recommended R-22, except for the perimeter properties which would be minimum one acre to match the minimum one acre lots of the adjoining properties, therefore, respecting the surrounding neighborhoods. For unknown reasons, the City Council again ignored its constituents and Planning Commission and approved R-22 zoning with the perimeter lots being a minimum of 32,670 sq. ft. (3/4 acre instead of 1 acre).

    It is understandable that the City Council is pro-dense development since the Mayor Belle Isle is a real estate closing attorney; D. C. Aiken is a mortgage banker, Mike Kennedy is a Financial Advisor, Michael Cross is a commercial real estate attorney and Chris Owens is a partner of a prominent local civil engineering firm that services land development projects. The only Councilman who voted against the proposal, and for the people, was realtor Jim Gilvin.

    It is disgraceful that the City Council won’t abide by the explicit words of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan that they approved, won’t listen to their constituents, doesn’t respect the surrounding property owners, and totally disregards the recommendation of the Planning Commission, who are appointed by the City Council. Obviously, Alpharetta City Council doesn’t work for the people, only for developers.

    Leslie Dyer
    1635 Eversedge Drive
    Alpharetta, GA 30009
    770-730-8782

  30. Arthur November 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    @MichaelCross

    Michael, thanks for your response and also willing to respond to public as to the reasoning.

    As Lee pointed out, the Council passed 20k sq. ft AVG, not MINIMUM. On these properties are large lakes and streams which take away alot of the overall property.

  31. greg November 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Lee,

    Agreed that is the question. When I emailed all of the council asking why they approved 1/3 acre lots, the ones who replied told me I was mistaken–all lots had to be 20k ft2. It was only after further pressing that they agreed it was indeed an average. Of course all lots won’t be 1/3 of an acre, but some will, and I think that is the rub for most people.

    Every council member who I have interacted with on this has been incredibly gracious and respectful. I believe they do want the best for the city. I too wonder why they did not require R22 as recommended by the PC. What is the reason this decision is preferable in their minds? While my correspondence with them has given me greater appreciation for them as individuals, I still am not sure that question has been resolved.

  32. JAH November 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    @Leslie Dyer

    Thank you for your elegantly detailed post. I don’t expect to see a council response to what you have written, but I empathize with you and your concerns. I am sorry to see the current iteration of the council (ex. Mr. Gilvin)disregard the will of the people as expressed in the CLUP, the Planning Commission, and the concerned citizens that worked with the PC to create its recommendations for council. This matter will affect my vote in the future.

  33. @greg November 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    The two questions that haven’t been publicly answered are: Why was Council’s proposal superior to the Planning Commission’s recommendation? And why was Council’s proposal superior to the friendly amendment proposed by Councilman Gilvin?

    No one is fooled by the feigned average v minimum confusion so please stop using this PR stunt. It makes you look ignorant or suggests you think your constituents are stupid. You voted to allow 1/3 acre lot minimums. Be men and own up to your decisions.

    The optics suggest either corruption, cowardice, or a completely different vision from your constituents.

  34. Michael Cross November 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    There are many who would be surprised to hear that I’ve been described as “pro-dense development”, but perhaps it’s not my place to affix a label.

    Ms. Dyer, who has worked incredibly hard on this issue and should be commended by her neighbors as influencing my thought process, wrote above:

    “The proposed site plan by Sharp Residential for the Johnson Tract averages 18,123 sq. ft. and the South Bates averages 20,060 sq. ft., but on the two tracts, 72% of the homes (54 of 75) are less than ½ acre.” I believe that is correct; however, with the condition imposed by Council that the Johnson tract averages must be increased to 20,000 sq. ft., there will have to be an adjustment by the applicant, and the adjustment will be closer to the type of development that several citizens have expressed to be desirable. For Bates South and the Johnson tract, the resulting lots should be within 10% of the lot size requests made by several citizens and should be acceptable to all other citizens. I’m interested to see the adjusted site plan the applicant will employ. At that point, we’ll have a better sense for whether we’ve been able to encourage a development that is fairly consistent with the desires and expectations of most of our citizens.

    To those of you who disagree with my vote and the Council’s decision, please know I sincerely respect your opinion, I believe my colleagues on Council do as well, and I believe your input impacted the final decision. We live in an extraordinary community, and the attention to detail expressed by our citizens is part of what promotes the continuance of the community quality we desire.

  35. Lee November 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    How did you arrive at this 10% figure? Please don’t tell me it is (22k-20k)/20k ? We’ve disproven these numbers already.

  36. @greg November 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    Mr. Cross,

    Thank you for your engagement on this forum.

    I would like to hear your answer to Lee’s question:

    Actually, all I would like answered is… why wouldn’t Council (save Mr Gilvin) consider R22 on the entire development?

  37. Tom Miller November 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    On Monday night I did not hear any coherent explanation by the Councilmen for the higher densities that were approved. I heard apologies by the Mayor and five Councilmen for their vote and the “tough decision”. What tough decision? Essentially they gave the developer everything he requested, even more than the City staff or the Planning Commission recommended. The family of landowners left with big smiles, knowing that Tom Sharp would pay them top dollar.

    All of the residents spoke against the zoning due to the densities, and they gave legitimate, concise reasons for reasonable densities. There was only one person who spoke in favor, a realtor from Johns Creek who sold new homes for the developer. Couldn’t the developer recruit more fake support? Maybe he knew that he didn’t need any support to win.

    I live in Windward on a 1/3 acre lot which is almost exactly what City Council approved for rural Northwest Alpharetta. Our home is nice. However I spoke against the zoning on Monday night because that density does not belong in Northwest Alpharetta.

    Comparing minimum lot size with average lot size must have come from a brainstorming session with the City’s public relations department to spin this and confuse people. The Sharp subdivision is loaded with cul-de-sacs which are twice the size of a rectangular lot because they have to accommodate the spacing of the homes. R-15 homes can be as close as 20 feet apart.

    I find it very troubling that the Mayor and City Councilmen who voted Yes, especially those who live west of GA 400, cannot seem to explain their decision except to apologize or confuse. Watch the video on the City’s website if you don’t believe me. When Councilman Jim Gilvin offered a substitute motion to approve reasonable zoning that was offered by the neighbors, not one other Councilman would second his motion. How could that be after listening to 100% opposition to the developer’s density?

    Next year, Councilmen Owens, Kennedy and Mitchell are up for re-election. For voters who were there on Monday night, those were the guys on the right.

  38. Ben Burnett November 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I look forward to running for city council to represent the citizens of Alpharetta…West of 400.

  39. Leslie Dyer November 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    @ Micheal Cross

    The South Bates tract site plan as proposed by Sharp already averages 20,060 sq. ft. So the Council didn’t “give” the resident anything more on lot size than what Sharp offered. 27 of the 44 homes (66%)in South Bates are less than 22,000 sq.ft.

    The Johnson tract as proposed by Sharp averaged 18,123 sq. ft. so the 20,000 sq. ft. average that the council approved will cut down the number of home by 1 or 2, but as proposed, 27 of the 31 homes (87%) are less than 22,000 sq. ft.

    I am not sure how you all do your math…

  40. Leslie Dyer November 29, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    @ Ben
    You have my support! Ben Burnett for City Council!!

  41. Leslie Dyer November 29, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    @ JAH
    Thank you for your support, as the resident DID NOT get any support From City Council on the important issue of lot size and preserving the residential estate and “horse-farm’ character of the Northwest Neighborhood!

  42. Lee November 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    It’s gotta be hard for politicians to justify votes. But worry not, I’m here to help. Let’s make this simple. Please fill in the blank…

    “I voted for R-15 zoning over R-22 because _________”

  43. Kim November 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Michael Cross wrote:
    To those of you who disagree with my vote and the Council’s decision, please know I sincerely respect your opinion, I believe my colleagues on Council do as well, and I believe your input impacted the final decision.

    Oh my! That is scary. What are you suggesting? Does this mean if we’d given no input that you all would have gifted the developer with something he didn’t even ask for? Maybe he would have gotten R12 on everything without constituent oversight!

  44. Jenny November 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Actually they did give him something he didn’t ask for twice. At both the Planning Commission meeting and the Council Meeting the developer said he didn’t need the variance request for no curbing/gutters along Bates Road. However, in the end Sharp was granted that variance. Why? Does the absence of curbing and gutters create a “rural” feel so that they can say they stuck to the CLUP? Our neighborhood has curbing and gutters and still retains a “rural” feel-because we are on 1 acre lots!

  45. Kim November 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    “Does the absence of curbing and gutters create a “rural” feel so that they can say they stuck to the CLUP? Our neighborhood has curbing and gutters and still retains a “rural” feel-because we are on 1 acre lots!”

    You are exactly right. I actually think no curbing can enhance the rural feel and still be classy when there are deep setbacks. Think Litchfield subdivision in Roswell or some of the large parcels in Milton. Council was thoughtful about deep setbacks on that Charlotte Road application. Why not here?

    Without the deep setbacks, no curbing/gutters just looks low-budget. I’m guessing since they weren’t able to sneak “Low Density” onto the FLU map during the 2030 CLUP forcing them to at least R22, no curbing/gutters was the only way the numbers would work for the developer and the two landowners.

  46. Kim November 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    One of the Harrington Homeowners who used to live in Oxford Lakes said that Sharp promised a junior Olympic pool over there and left them with a puddle.

  47. Michael Hadden December 1, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    This discussion is awesome! First, a subdivsion is inherently NOT RURAL. You can dress it up to look rural but in the end, it’s a cartoon of the pastoral dreams of suburbia.

    If Alpharetta truly wants a rural feel, it’s gonna need to buy some bulldozers.

    Lastly, this is a poorly designed subdivision and the neighbors are right for fighting it even if I disagree with their rationale. It’s not the lot size that matters, it’s the platting of the lots and how they interact with the neighboring area. This area is probably better left alone. There are lot’s of other locations in Alpharetta that are ripe for crappy development.

  48. Michael Cross December 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Lee,

    I prefer paragraphs to discuss complex issues, but I’ll try to reduce the commentary I’ve previously provided to a summary sentence in response to your request.

    I voted for the zoning with the various conditions because, after researching the issue for hours upon hours, I thought it was an appropriate balance between neighborhood concerns and private property rights.

  49. Kim December 2, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    Balance? What balance?

    Isn’t it interesting that when the family sold off the Harrington Oaks parcel while they still lived there and had to look at it, they made certain they got 1+ acres with four-sided brick very large homes?

  50. Travis Allen December 3, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Balance?

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