Julie Hogg on politics, gardens and the “right to sell it”

The following is a guest post from Julie Hogg. You can read Julie’s work at the Alpharetta-Milton Patch.

When it comes to local politics, I’ve been known to carry on a bit.  Sometimes I just get riled up.  I can’t not speak about issues meaningful to me.

One thing that is meaningful to me is Alpharetta and saying that holds some irony because I didn’t choose to live here – circumstances just converged to bring me here.  I wasn’t happy here for the longest time, but then I had the opportunity to actually DO some things for this city; you know, get involved.  And I got involved with the thing I care the most about:  getting people into the garden, whether that be the Alpharetta Community Garden or the Alpharetta Arboretums at Webb Bridge, Wills Park, Cogburn Road Park, all of which I’m honored to say I had a part in creating.  I believe with my whole heart that if folks would get out of the house and connect with that great mysterious, wondrous, beautiful place – nature – that we would breath, hear, see, eat, sleep, and think better.  And most importantly to me, I think if we would calm down and release ourselves from electronics and the pressures of life to just ‘be’ in the garden or in the woods at a park, we might  find clarity in our souls.

And so, when local Councilpersons flippantly talk of changing the tree ordinance or chopping down 66 trees for City Center or building houses right next to a flood plain (in 2013!)  or squeezing in more subdivisions, which, regardless of the zoning, IS in and of itself, creating more density, I get upset because they’re messing with my garden – our garden.

Of concern to me at present is the potential sell-off and development of 13 acres of land on Rucker Road that contains flood zone and flooding potential.  I blogged about this last Monday on the Alpharetta-Milton Patch.  Since the 13 acres of land on Rucker are adjacent to my neighborhood, I attended a neighborhood meeting about it. Present at this meeting were residents, an attorney, a city councilman, a city staff person, and representatives for the builder/developer.  But that is all I can say as I was requested not to write about the specifics of said meeting in a blog (well, specifically, a blog on the Alpharetta-Milton Patch, but I’m being extra sensitive here).  Was this meeting THAT super secret and scintillating?  You’ll never know, my friends.  But what you can know is that I was asked not to write about it.   Interesting, huh?

There is a statement that sellers and their representatives often say in these situations.  “It’s my land.  I have the right to sell it!” Well, let’s clarify this idea a bit.  Thanks to our Constitution we have the right to own and dispose of private property.  But.  We do not have a guaranteed right to a sale.  Sales are not about rights.  They are about market forces.  And market forces are reined in by common sense, local ordinances, and the well being of the people at large – which is what makes eminent domain possible, but that’s another story.  Our Alpharetta City Council is proving that they believe that all medium to large parcels with a ‘for sale’ sign should be sold to developers no matter what the impact on nature or the larger community, both now and in the future.  I call that government intervening in market forces.  I also call it irresponsible. There are some other words that come to mind but that I can’t prove.  You can draw your own conclusions.

9 Responses to “Julie Hogg on politics, gardens and the “right to sell it””

  1. Kim March 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Out of curiosity, may I ask specifically WHO asked you to not write about your secret meeting? And may I ask for what reason? If it is pertaining to development in our city, doesn’t every citizen have a right to know what is discussed? Did all parties agree to secrecy prior to the meeting? This doesn’t smell right to me.

    Regarding City Council, give credit where it is due. Councilman Gilvin has been the lone voice who is consistently fair and sensitive to these issues and should be lauded for doing so. He has represented citizen concerns in both votes and in appropriate lines of questioning.

  2. Julie Hogg March 14, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Well, that’s just it – it actually WASN’T a secret meeting. It was a pre-arranged meeting that any resident in Crabapple Chase could attend – and as I said, was attended as well by a City Councilman. Who asked me not to disclose the contents of the meeting? For now, I’ve said all I can say. In any case, all the names, faces, facts and figures will be discussed at Council chambers on Monday, March 18 when the final decision to re-zone this property and all it’s conditions comes to a vote. At this time, the sellers, who as we know, ‘have the right to sell’ will find out if Pulte homes truly wants to buy – depending upon the decision of Council. —-As for Councilman Gilven, credit to whom credit is due. I laud him. I appreciate anyone who is a lone dissenter. That ain’t easy.

  3. Kim March 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    So did other residents attend? Were you told that you couldn’t discuss it with anyone or just not blog about it? Were others told that it couldn’t be discussed. Sorry, but that’s weird and creepy. Sounds like someone has an insecurity problem.

  4. JP March 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Julie,

    I appreciate your passion and willingness to put yourself out there. You and I don’t agree often on development (me being mostly pro-development) but it is nice to hear and consider other people’s opinions.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Travis Allen March 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Gonna have to agree with Kim. The second someone asks me not to speak about something that is discussed in a fairly public forum will be the second I decide to write about it anyway and disclose exactly who asked me not to.

    Granted, I enjoy reading your blogs Julie, and I have great respect for your opinions, but I’m having some serious issues with this one.

  6. Julie Hogg March 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Hey, thanks JP. I sincerely appreciate that. I really do.

  7. Julie Hogg March 15, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    Kim, to address your point, I was told not to blog about the meeting. I was undoubtedly told this because this person made some criticisms of a certain party involved in this situation……all said before this person knew that I was a blogger. Yes, the criticisms were fodder for a blog. Will I blog about them? That’s up to me. Not this person.

  8. Mike March 19, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    Real estate law is something I know little about, but would blocking the sale of single family owners parcels to developers be legal?

    I could see the city spending an enormous amount of legal fees trying to defend itself in court against developers.

  9. JS March 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    @Mike, since when would not rezoning a parcel of land qualify as “blocking the sale” of single family owners parcels? Weren’t the property owners privy to public input on the comprehensive land use plan like every other property owner in the city? Do they know the difference between “very low density” and “low density”? One could argue that the council is lining the pockets of long time property owners and developers against the welfare of the city by voting IN OPPOSITION to their own appointed Planning Commission and their own adopted Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

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