Last week Hatcher Hurd with the Appen newspapers wrote an editorial titled “Zoning decisions: Why can’t they just say no?” He attempted to explain why zonings are contentious. Hatcher boiled down opposition to those who just want government to say no to all zonings. It was a very one-sided article.
Unfortunately Alpharetta Councilman Mike Kennedy praised the article on both northfulton.com and twitter. He suggested the opinion I’m going to express here is not his experience.
Like Hatcher, I’ve followed a lot of zoning cases in north Fulton and south Forsyth. My experience with the opposition is quite different. The citizens of this area are intelligent, highly educated and generally slant towards being conservative Republicans. They understand property rights.
They’re not dummies. They understand that growth is coming but want it managed. Citizens are concerned with traffic and road capacity. And they’re keenly aware of the situation at local schools pertaining to overcrowding.
Citizens want things like comprehensive land use plans followed. Nearly every zoning request pushes the envelope, asking for a one or two notch jump in density classification. They usually get it.
As frustration grows, opponents form grassroots organizations. You’ve probably heard of a few of these. In Alpharetta you’ve got guys like Windward Homeowners Inc. Preserve Rural Milton has been very busy recently. South Forsyth has no less than four community groups working zoning cases. I’ve been fortunate to meet folks from most of these groups. They put in hours and hours of tireless work. They’re meeting with developers, planers and politicians, working to find common ground and compromise. These are smart guys and gals who know the process and are working within it.
But that’s not the narrative Mr Hurd and Mr Kennedy would like to be told. Their comments do a disservice to citizen groups like this and their hard work.
Are there some citizens who want no development at all? I’m sure there are. But don’t boil down all zoning opposition like this. The citizens are smarter than you think. They want growth managed and the processes followed. Is that too much to ask?