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All Milton students found to be above the mean

A recent classroom study finds that all students at Milton High School are significantly above the mean. The project was conducted as part of a semester-long classroom assignment in the school’s Advanced Placement Statistics class.

Milton High School“Fulton County Schools was gracious to provide us test result data from all standardized tests taken at Milton going back several years,” said teacher Kent Dorfman. “Of course any personally identifiable information was removed prior to the data arriving in our lab.”

The students analyzed test scores using material learned in class and leveraged specialized computer software.  Each and every student was compared to the Milton student population as a whole. The results were astounding. Every Milton High School student was found to be above the mean. A high standard deviation was also observed.

“We went into the study pretty much knowing everyone was super smart at Milton,” remarked AP Stats student Katie Wong. “Like, the results just proved what we already knew.”

After graduating this spring Wong plans to study applied mathematics at the University of South Carolina. She included the assignment in her application essay and believes it played a big part in her acceptance to the college.

Dorfman hopes to make the study a yearly project in his AP Statistics class. He says the project helps to drive home course curriculum with real-world numbers the students live and understand.

“It reinforces our preconceived notions, a concept that’s very important in the science of statistics,” he explained. “Even if these students don’t become mathematicians, these are valuable skills that will serve them well in their professional lives.”

Photo Credit: Steven V

Apartments, apartments, apartments

They’re back! The proposed Deerfield Parkway apartment complex in Milton has resurfaced. If you’ll remember back about a year ago the city narrowly rejected a request from Crescent Resources to build a new complex on Deerfield Parkway. The developer sued Milton arguing that the city was violating the Georgia Fair Housing Act by rejecting affordable housing.


View Crescent Resources apartments in a larger map

Since that time Milton created a form-based zoning code in the Deerfield area. The judge hearing the lawsuit remanded the case back to Milton so that the developer could reapply for the zoning under the new rules.

This case will be interesting to watch. The argument was made in court that the developer wanted to build lower-end apartments. Will Crescent make this pitch to Milton, or will they come with a high-end product? We talked about this double standard last year. It’s all starting to play out now.

And back in Alpharetta… Tonight that city’s Council will consider creating something akin to a neighborhood watch program for apartment complexes. Traditional programs like this don’t work in apartments so law enforcement has to get a little creative. It’s a good program though. But remember, apartment opponents are unreasonable when they say apartments invite crime, right?

And while not technically apartments (yet), there’s another interesting nugget on Council’s agenda tonight. Council will begin discussing developer qualifications for the City Center project. This is for the four sections that will be privately developed.

Up until this point, the city has never mentioned the word “residential” with regard to their City Center project. They’ve tip toed around it but the word has not appeared in a single document or discussion – until now. I predicted the city would wait until after the election for this topic. With nearly everyone running unopposed, it’s now safe to have this conversation out loud in city hall. Bring on the high density residential!

And if condos over retail are still unfinanceable, then you can expect a developer to come with a plan for apartments in downtown. Remember, it’s all for the sake of having a “vibrant” downtown.

The Crescent Resources apartment double standard in Milton

The apartments at Avalon will be first class. Apartment developer AMLI wanted to put upscale apartments on Westside Parkway. Additionally, AMLI’s new Mansell Road community features granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and LEED certified buildings.

Nearly every new, planned or renovated apartment community in this area is being developed and promoted as upscale. AMLI wanted so much to prove this fact that they twice invited this blogger on a tour of their newest community.

So why then is apartment developer Crescent Resources saying the City of Milton “denied the opportunity to have an appropriate, affordable residence” in the city? They accuse the city of violating the Georgia Fair Housing Act.


View Crescent Resources apartments in a larger map

Over the summer Crescent asked to build apartments on a tract of land along Deerfield Parkway. The city of Milton narrowly turned down the request. Last week Crescent sued Milton in Fulton County court.

Mike Petchenik with WSBtv ran a story on this in a 4:00 newscast. The AJC did a big spread on the story this past Saturday but it isn’t available online. Local north Fulton media has not covered this story at all. Disappointing. But back to the apartments…

Is Crescent Resources trying to have it both ways with their apartments? Certainly no developer in their right mind would approach a city in this area with the intention of building lower-end apartments. And Milton certainly wouldn’t want to put them here, in an area awash with apartments and condos. The beleaguered Manning Oaks school district definitely doesn’t need the addition of these apartments (a controversial topic covered in this blog last year).

Or perhaps Crescent is playing to their audience. Their lawsuit was filed in a Fulton County court in Atlanta. Perhaps the affordable housing argument will play better there. Either way, this is laughable.

This parcel of land is no stranger to controversy. Two years ago Crescent wanted the land zoned for a special needs school. That zoning passed over some opposition. And a portion of the land is zoned for a data center that Global Payments was eying. Both would be better uses for the property. Additionally, the recently-completed Highway 9 LCI study identified this property as having an activity center with road connectivity to the Fry’s shopping center along Highway 9.

The AJC article thought this would be Milton’s first big test of their land use plans. The real question is – does Milton have the courage to fight this and the willingness to spend money to do so? They rolled over when the Bethany Bend gas station sued over a denied zoning. And is their zoning code strong enough to defend a much more serious challenge?

Were this to happen in Alpharetta there would be no question – the city would fight. After all, Alpharetta is willing to go toe-to-toe with the US Justice Department to deny some people of faith their request to expand. It’s an interesting contrast.

Prediction – the cash-strapped new city will not want to spend the money fighting this case. They will quickly cave under the pressure. This will embolden developers to bring more apartments to the city, especially considering the lockdown on apartments next door in Alpharetta.

Milton has little remaining land in their business and commercial corridor. They cannot accord for it to be developed residential (as Alpharetta is doing along GA-400). The young city should reexamine their code so as to give their council protection in cases like this apartment denial.

Consultants to Crabapple: Saddle up, partners!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 14 year career in information technology it is this… consultants are worth their weight in gold. Yep, it’s true. They have amazing abilities of perception and knowledge that surpass anything mere cubicle dwellers might have. They can always be counted on to provide innovative solutions that show a deep understanding of both the customer and the problem.

That’s why I was excited to learn that the City of Milton hired a consultant to study redevelopment in Crabapple. I studied with interest the cartoons streetscapes that were presented to the public. Surely they were the result of hours of painstaking work. Yet it wasn’t until I read this article in The Patch that I truly understood the sheer genius behind this effort.

You see, Crabapple has a little traffic problem. It’s quite bad actually. On my last visit it took me nearly 45 minutes to drive there from my home east of GA-400. I foolishly thought additional road capacity was the solution. But again let me remind you, I’m not the consultant here. I guess you could say that my armchair traffic analysis missed the mark completely. No, we need the complete opposite. The consultant said we need…. wait for it….

“Traffic Friction”

To make traffic better we need to make it worse… by slowing cars down. Let’s install things on the roads that actually make it difficult¬† to drive. I suppose the idea is that if traffic becomes so unbearable, people will stop driving all together. This strategy is, in a word, brilliant. Extra capacity and lanes, according to Mr. Consultant, might encourage people to drive. Driving makes traffic. I’m kicking myself while writing this, furious for not thinking of this idea first.

Pedestrians, Bicycles, Horse Trails, Cars

This will be the transportation priority order for Crabapple’s future development. Notice that cars are dead last. Again, it’s sheer genius. It made me think of the owner of the Crabapple antique shop mentioned in this article. Traffic problems are killing his business and he’s struggling to hang on. Can you imagine all the antique furniture he will sell to customers on bicycles or horseback? Saddle up, partners!

Like any good consulting effort, his ideas have spurred my creativity. Why stop at these suggestions? If roads are the enemy then let’s just jackhammer them all! Mayfield and Crabapple Roads would cost far less to maintain if they were gravel roads. I’d also suggest passing new ordinances requiring hitching posts in front of all Crabapple restaurants and shops.

So how would you create “friction” on Crabapple’s roads? I’m sure my blog readers can think of some outstanding ideas to hasten a traffic apocalypse. Together we can declare war on roads and automobiles!

If You Build It, He Will Come

Did you hear that whisper? “If you build it, he will come.” A lot of powerful people claim they don’t hear the voice, suggesting that perhaps those who do might be a bit loony. Nevertheless, they are building it, and eventually he will come.

I wanted one followup to last week’s MARTA article. The Field of Dreams analogy was something I couldn’t pass up. In case you’re not a fan of baseball movies, allow me to hold your hand through this. The baseball diamond in the corn field is high density development. Shoeless Joe Jackson is MARTA and Kevin Costner is being played by the Alpharetta City Council. If you build high density along GA-400, MARTA will come (or at the least will be very interested in coming). That part really isn’t up for debate. Who is hearing and responding to the voices? That no one will admit to.

What I’d like to see is for Alpharetta to take a stand on MARTA and act on it. It might be like how they roll in Milton…

If You Don’t Build It, He Won’t Come – Milton

If you don’t build sewer in Milton, density won’t come. It’s something I’ve written about and generally disagree with. They don’t wish to have high or even medium density in most of their city. The best way to accomplish this goal is to starve the density by taking away a food source. No sewer; no density. Right or wrong, at least Milton has taken a clear stand and they’re working towards that stated mission.

I don’t see this happening in Alpharetta. Does the City Council wish to have MARTA’s north line extended to Alpharetta? It’s a simple question. If the answer is yes, then say it and continue fueling it with very high density along GA-400. If the answer is no then let’s starve MARTA of its sustenance. But most of all, take a clear and unequivocal stand on MARTA expansion before the voters. The time for pussyfooting is over.

As an aside, today the Alpharetta City Council will vote to submit multiple transportation projects totaling $145 million to the Atlanta Regional Commission. These projects may be included in a 2012 penny sales tax referendum. Buried in the list of projects is $2.4 million to purchase the land reserved in the North Point LCI for the MARTA station at GA-400 and Encore Parkway. Alpharetta is building it. Let’s just admit is already!

Photo Credit: Scott Ehardt

What’s in a Name? “Bethany Bend” High School

I went to A.P. Leto High School in suburban Tampa, Florida. Who was A.P. Leto? I haven’t the slightest clue. Did it matter much to the students? Not really. I suppose it would have been cool if our school was named for the geographic town or community in which we lived, but it wasn’t. Would we have formed a better community had the school been named differently? Probably not.

I got excited when I discovered this new local blog, the New Milton High School Blog run by Andy Young. (Seriously, I do get excited by new blogs). It’s about the new high school being built along Bethany Bend in Milton. Construction is progressing fast. Miltonites are starting to ponder names for the school, thus the new blog’s very focused theme. The author supports the notion that the new high school should have the word “Milton” somewhere in the name. Does it matter? What’s behind this idea?

New City Identity

I’ve written a few times about how I think Johns Creek and Milton struggle to establish identity for themselves. It manifests itself in issues like new zip codes. I think the high school is no different. The boundaries for the school have not been set but there is a good chance that most students will live within the city limits of Milton. I say most but I’ll bet you can find some from Alpharetta. Nevertheless, this is a chance for Miltonites to find yet another way to identify themselves. That might not be possible if the school were to be called something else.

Piggyback on the Milton HS Prestige

Let’s face it, Milton High School is an awesome school. They rank nationally in many areas; academics, athletics, arts, etc. It would be a bummer to have middle school-aged kids today, knowing that they might miss a chance to go to Milton HS. The next best thing might be to create a “North Milton” and “South Milton”. That’s an idea being kicked around on the blog. Which one gets which designation isn’t clear. I find it interesting that both schools are geographically east/west of each other. I don’t know why this north/south divide is popular now.

Would it be fair to the current Milton High School to change their name? The school has a rich history dating back to 1921, a little bit before the creation of the city of Milton (duh). After all, the school was named for Milton County. I’d imagine suggesting a name change of ninety year old school would be met with some resistance. That fight will be fun to watch from the sidelines.

Does it Really Matter?

High school is a formative time for children. Like I mentioned above, students will bond around their high school regardless of the name.

I contend that the new high school, whatever it is called, will be an academically terrific school. I wrote back in October that good parents raise smart kids which create good schools. That will most certainly be the case with the new school. The name or boundary are immaterial.

So what’s my take on the name? I don’t have an opinion one way or another. It will be interesting to see what political pressure the Milton residents bring over this, if any. Will it matter, considering that they realistically don’t get much of a say? At the end of the day I think parents will care more about how the district lines are drawn. I expect some in Milton will seek for the school’s boundaries to closely match those of Milton’s jagged city limits. It’s all about identity in Milton.

A Milton Fill-In-The-Blank Press Release

I like to poke fun at Milton. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice place with good folks. It’s just that their city council routinely votes to ban things that I’ve come to like and enjoy. The news stories all tend to sound the same after a while. So as a service to my fellow writers out there, I’ve put together this little Milton press release template. It is kind of like those Mad Libs we used to do as kids. Just fill in the blanks or use the words or phrases I’ve suggested. If you’re the north Fulton beat writer for the AJC or maybe for Access Milton, this ought to make your job a lot easier. Just my way of giving back.

Milton Votes on Controversial Ban

Milton – The City Council yesterday approved a measure to permanently ban (cell phones/gasoline/indoor plumbing) within the Milton city limits. The vote was (unanimous/contentious/split).¬† After the council adjourned, Milton’s mayor said of the vote, “It was important we act on this matter. In my opinion, this was necessary to preserve Milton’s (equestrian/anti-capitalistic) way of life. ”

(Dozens of/hundreds of/several) residents crowded into Milton’s city hall chamber to express their opinions. They held signs which read (“think of the horses”/”no sewer!”) while booing attorneys when they spoke. One of those attorneys, Sindey Getz of the lawfirm (Dolittle and Dalley/Howe, Dewey, Cheatem & Wynn) expressed disgust in the vote, saying “This vote is (horse <bleep>,<bleep>ing stupid,nothing but <bleeeeeep>). I will advise my client to (sue/pout/write a strongly worded letter). ”

“I don’t want people to think this is a NIMBY issue,” said Milton resident Joe Schmo. “I just don’t want that stuff next door to me.”

Also in yesterday’s meeting, the council considered a resolution to (pick a favorite color/lower the city-wide speed limit to 10 mph). The matter was postponed until next month’s meeting to allow for further discussion.

Number of the Month – Sewer in Milton

Around the first of the month I publish the number of the month, just a random or meaningless bit of local trivia.

14%

The percentage of the city of Milton’s acreage that the sewer system supports… and that’s just fine by them.

This has always been strange to me. Milton refuses to expend their small sewer system. Why? It gives them an easier way to say no to higher density and commercial development. Actually they don’t even have to say no. The rules regarding septic systems prohibit small lots. Proposed development is nipped in the bud before it can even be considered.

What do I think? I sleep easy knowing there isn’t a big concrete box full of poo buried in my front yard. So yeah, color me a fan of the sewer system. If you want to say no to certain development then fine, vote them down. Just don’t deny your citizens access to a sanitary sewer system, something municipalities have been providing for centuries.

Not as Conservative as You’d Think

I’m a conservative. I’m a true conservative. I was a foot-solider in the Reagan Revolution. I’m so far to the right I can’t turn my head left. These are all lines I’ve heard in this election year. Well, the last one I made up, but you get the idea. The election of 2010 has been an amazing one so far. It reminds me a lot of 1994, only more intense. Candidates are tripping all over themselves to come across as conservative. We live in one of the most politically conservative parts of the country, yet politicians are trying to out-conservative each other. It is almost comical to watch.

At the same time I’m puzzled with local government and how very un-conservative their policies seem to be this year. City and county governments around here stomp on the principles of private property rights and limited government with impunity. Here are a few examples…

Forsyth County in the Golf Course Business – Some Republican county commissioners in Forsyth County want to use taxpayer money to purchase a golf course, namely the Lanier Golf Course. Never mind that other privately owned courses in the northern burbs are struggling financially. I’m sure Forsyth County can do a better job running one while still being good stewards of the taxpayer. Fore!

Roswell Denies Cell Tower Request. Milton Rejects Two Cell Towers – This has been written about a LOT. I’ll probably beat on this dead horse in a few months when Roswell and Milton are dragged into court. The odd thing is that fighting cell towers is politically popular among residents even though the law is clearly NOT in the side of the cities. Tea party principles be damned, we’re talking NIMBY! Can you hear me now?

Gwinnett’s New Garbage Plan Takes Effect – Citizens in unincorporated Gwinnett County now have zero choice in which garbage company to use. This isn’t as big a deal to me since many municipalities do the same thing (the City of Alpharetta being one of them). It is more the principle of the matter. In the name of reduced traffic and pollution citizens had a small freedom taken away from them. That stinks.

I could go on with examples of legit zoning applications being rejected for NIMBY purposes, but you get the idea. In 2010 we will hold politicians in Washington and Atlanta to a higher conservative standard. We’ll demand to have it the other way with city and county commissions. We’re not as conservative as we’d like to think here in the northern burbs.

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