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Monday, December 31, 2007

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for 2008?

Going back to school?
Looking for a better job?
Time to get in shape?


Here are but a few goals most folks set out.

Make a difference. Making a conscious choice to give of oneself for the benefit of others is a vastly satisfying and potentially life-changing New Year’s resolution.

Go somewhere. Travel is high on many people’s New Year’s to-do lists. Some want to set aside more time for recreation and relaxation with family and friends. Others want to see more of the world and the myriad experiences that traveling offers. Where do you want to go?

Quit smoking.

Reduce debt and save money.

Get organized.

Find someone special (that is if you don't already have someone special!!)

Focus on important relationships. Does New Year’s always remind you that your children (or parents, spouse or friends) are getting older, and that you really should spend more quality time together? After all, this is the only life you have, and the loved ones around you are the greatest gifts of the journey.

What are some of our Miltonian's New Years Resolutions? Anyone want to share?


- Many thanks to one of our "Amreaders" for this idea!

Ahead Of The Curve

Your eye on community development / www.ajc.com

Washington aspirations

The city of Atlanta has quietly been acquiring property between the state Capitol and Oakland Cemetery, planting the seed for what officials hope will one day be a Washington-style mall between the two sites.

The city recently spent $1.8 million to purchase a nearly 1-acre parcel just west of Oakland Cemetery that could clear the way for a future visitors' center, city officials said. Earlier this year, the city bought two nearby blocks along Memorial Drive — the first of six blocks the city plans to acquire to clear the way for a future Capitol Gateway Park.

Atlanta is using a combination of funding sources to buy up the mostly light industrial tracts, including private donations, quality of life bonds, developer impact fees and revenue from the city's Eastside Tax Allocation District. The recent $1.8 million purchase includes an anonymous $900,000 donation made through the Oakland Historic Foundation.

The long-term plan is for the city's property on Memorial to join with property owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority to the west, creating a strip of green space that would span the Downtown Connector. The plans for such a park date back to the mid-1970s, when Jimmy Carter served as governor.

It's only a vision for now, stressed Ellen Wickersham, director of parks and green space with the city's development authority. An extensive master planning process would be required to get public input before a firm plan is drawn up, she said.

— Paul Donsky

Auto-balms

Business leaders in north Fulton County are helping to pay for two efforts to ease traffic congestion. Both are to take shape before summer.

The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts lent its political and financial strength to the construction of a half-diamond interchange at Ga. 400 and Hammond Drive. The interchange is expected to ease congestion along the traffic-clogged highway, and on nearby surface streets, by improving the flow of vehicles heading to and from Ga. 400.

As the interchange is built, Hammond Drive is expected to get new sidewalks, and existing sidewalks are to be improved. The CID is supporting that project as part of a broader effort to make the area more inviting for pedestrians.

Farther north along Ga. 400, a comprehensive land-use plan is being created to guide future development in Milton and Alpharetta.

The North Fulton Community Improvement District wants to provide a seamless plan for development along the highway as it traverses the cities, each of which has a planning department.

The CID's goal is to create for north Fulton the type of master plan that contributed to the revitalization of Midtown. Midtown was a partly blighted neighborhood until local leaders created a blueprint to guide future growth, and several developers have said the existence of a plan reassured potential investors and tenants that the area would develop in an orderly fashion.

— David Pendered

Water plan hosed

The proposed state water plan, due on state legislators' desks Jan. 14, smacked into a wall of galvanized opposition earlier this month among local governments, environmentalists and editorialists outside metro Atlanta.

The plan, already defanged of any legal force, is innocuous enough as a policy guideline.
What's riled the rest of the state is how local water decisions would be made. Instead of organizing the regional water planning districts along river basins, giving downstreamers a seat at the same table with upstreamers, the proposal offered earlier this month would organize the districts along existing political boundaries created to deliver state services for economic development and other purposes.

"It's the hydrologic equivalent of gerrymandering. And it's just wrong," opined the LaGrange Daily News, which gets its water from the Chattahoochee River, after metro Atlanta uses it.
A Savannah Morning News editorial said criss-crossing river basins "is setting the stage for future fights among rival jurisdictions for the same water."

Metro Atlanta is part of a 16-county water planning district created in 2001 that would not be disrupted by the proposal. The district crosses five major river basins.

Environmentalists say creating more political boundaries for water planning around the rest of the state will encourage piping water from one river basin to another to fuel development, harming both basins' ecosystems by upsetting the natural flows.

Local government officials don't like how the district boards would be created through appointments by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. The concern is that the regional water boards could decide which counties get to grow and by how much without input from locally elected leaders. Local officials also want a say on the boards because it's likely they will have to raise taxes to help pay for the regional plans.

The Water Council, consisting of 14 state agency heads, legislators and citizen members, is working on revisions due for a Jan. 8 vote.

— Stacy Shelton

Fore! New Ansley homes

Presales have begun at Ansley Parkside, a townhome development under construction on Monroe Drive near Ansley Golf Club in Midtown.

Ansley Parkside will have 41 homes with prices beginning in the high $500,000s. The first units are expected to be completed in October.

Townhomes by Lane Co. is the developer and Brunning & Stang is the builder.
The traditional brownstone style townhomes were designed by Harrison Design Group. They range in size from 1,999 to 2,212 square feet and have three bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths.

— Kevin Duffy

Air-colades

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport snagged several industry awards this year, including Best Large U.S. Airport (from American Express' Executive Traveler magazine), Most Efficient Airport in the World (the Air Transport Research Society), Best Airport Director (Airport Revenue News magazine) and Airport Operator of the Year (the National Organization to Ensure a Sound-Controlled Environment).

Atlanta's airport also maintained its status as the busiest airport in the world. About 86 million passengers were expected to pass through the airport by year's end.

— Jim Tharpe

Friday, December 28, 2007

Milton Getting New Libraries

By MARY MacDONALD The Atlanta Journal-Constitution www.ajc.com

Milton should gain a major new library in the next several years, thanks to steady population growth. But Roswell and Sandy Springs will have to settle for renovations rather than new facilities.

The proposed master plan for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is a mixed bag for Northside communities. And in the months leading up to its approval, several community leaders have tried to intervene to change their fortunes.

Roswell, in particular, has pressed hard for a second library, with advocates arguing the city has the population and traffic congestion to warrant two libraries. Under the master plan, the existing library at 115 Norcross St. will get a major, $1.7 million renovation.
The existing Sandy Springs library at 395 Mount Vernon Highway also will get a major renovation, but no expansion.

Advocates in both cities want more.

A group called People for a Library in East Roswell have collected more than 1,000 signatures over the past several months, asking for a library at Fouts and Holcomb Bridge roads, where the city has property it is willing to share. Roswell Mayor Jere Wood and the City Council are supporting the effort.

"All we can do is try," said Eileen Seidman, president of the advocacy group. "But our neighborhood needs it."

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos also took on an activist stance. She encouraged city residents in September to attend a public forum on the proposed master plan and ask for a second library in the city.

The system's plan, unveiled almost a year ago, is expected to go before the 11-member board of the library system in February 2008, said John Szabo, the library system's director. The board will then make a recommendation to the full Fulton County Commission, which decides the final package of library improvements.

For the past several months, the library system has held 37 public forums on its proposed expansion, Szabo said. All of the comments will be considered, he said. In Milton, he said, residents asked for a more centrally located library than the Birmingham community.
"We have certainly heard a great demand for library service," he said. "It's fair to say that many, many residents would like bigger libraries and more of them."

Ultimately, he said, the needs of the entire system have to be balanced."We plan libraries and try to plan where they're located and their sizes in as fair and equitable a way as possible," he said.

NORTHSIDE LIBRARIES

The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System plans 10 new libraries and major renovations as part of a 10-year master plan. Northside communities will get a new library in the Birmingham area of Milton, as well as renovations of existing facilities. Here are the details:

Birmingham library

N/A
$12.5 million, 25,000 square feet facility
Alpharetta Branch Library
238 Canton St., Alpharetta
$670,000 renovation

Northeast/Spruill Oaks Regional Library

9560 Spruill Road, Johns Creek
$1.5 million renovation
Dr. Robert E. Fulton Regional at Ocee
5090 Abbotts Bridge Road, Johns Creek
$145,000 renovation

Roswell Regional Library

115 Norcross St., Roswell
$1.7 million renovation

Sandy Springs Regional Library

395 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs
$1.8 million renovationSource: Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Complaint Dropped Against Milton Ethics Board Member

By DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / ww.ajc.com

The Milton Board of Ethics on Friday dismissed a complaint against a member of the board that was filed by another board member.

The board voted 5-0 to dismiss the complaint against Carol Lane filed in July by John McMillan. He alleged that when Lane addressed the City Council on a planning matter on July 12, she improperly failed to disclose on a comment card that she had given money to a City Council member's campaign.

Chairman Clint Johnson said the board determined there was no intent by Lane to violate the ordinance.

Lane said she was relieved to be exonerated. She acknowledged she didn't check the box, but said it was a simple oversight. Lane, a member of a group some consider to be dedicated to slowing growth, said the complaint was politically motivated. McMillan is a developer.
"They were waiting for me to make a mistake," Lane said. "It was retaliation against me and the Birmingham Hopewell Alliance, and any citizen speaking out. But I wasn't speaking on behalf of the BHA. I spoke as a citizen. This was frivolous."

McMillan on Friday offered to drop the complaint if Lane would resign. She refused. Lane and McMillan recused themselves from the proceedings.

The complaint against Lane came amid a flurry of allegations of unethical behavior by Milton officials. In all, four members of the seven-member City Council have had ethics complaints filed against them, and all have been dismissed.

The charge against Lane was filed just before the board was supposed to consider allegations of wrongdoing by two City Council members considered by some to be sympathetic to developers.
McMillan could not be reached for comment Monday.

The City Council, concerned that ethics complaints could be used for political retaliation or harassment, have since tightened up the process and definitions of what constitutes a violation of the city's code of ethics.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Friday, December 21, 2007

Milton, Alpharetta Plan to Fight Fires With Cooperation Station

Crews may be shared
By DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / www.ajc.com

The cities of Alpharetta and Milton are hammering out a plan to allow Milton to house a firetruck in an Alpharetta station near their border, and would commit both fire departments to battle blazes on either side of the boundary.

"Citizens of both cities win," said Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood. "It makes sense that when the 911 call comes in, the dispatcher can say, 'Who's closest and can get there the quickest."

In some areas of Alpharetta, such as Crab-apple, Milton's fire station is closer than Alpharetta's nearest fire station. And in some areas of Milton, such as Deerfield and Windward parkways, Alpharetta can respond more quickly to emergency calls than Milton's fire crews can.
So, public safety staff in the two cities brainstormed a concept in which Milton can park its "quint," a multi-use ladder truck, in one of Alpharetta's stations. That would allow Alpharetta to redeploy some of its trucks for better protection in other parts of the city.

And both cities' firefighters along the border would respond to fire regardless of jurisdictional issues.

The details are still being negotiated, but city council members are enthusiastic about the prospect of better coverage. If all goes well, an agreement could be in place by summer.
"We have worked with other cities, but not to the extent of having apparatus in our stations," said Alpharetta City Councilman Jim Paine. "There are turf issues all over the place, but here, common sense prevailed."

Typically, fire departments stay within their respective boundaries unless asked for help.
Milton Deputy Public Safety Director Charles Millican said the proposed arrangement would address several potential problems.

The quint, a behemoth of a vehicle, has no home in the day. While the sun's up, it goes from site to site in the retail centers and office parks around Deerfield and Windward parkways. At sunset, unless called, it retires to a large station on Birmingham Road, across the city. While there are still fire engines based on Thompson Road nearby, they lack the aerial ladder that can better target hotspots.

The agreement being negotiated would allow the quint to remain in the area most at risk of a large fire, Millican said.

Because the Alpharetta station is a mile or two closer, it would cut response times to that area from six minutes to three minutes, he said.

The Milton Public Safety Department would be tapped into Alpharetta's 911 system, which would choose the nearest unit regardless of jurisdiction.

Milton would pay about half of the $26,000 operations cost for the Alpharetta station. Building a new station, Millican said, would cost up to $3 million.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Be One Of The First!

To sport a Milton, Georgia Magnet on your car! We are taking orders now with our first delivery expected in January. Only $6.00! To order, contact us at: magnoliamedia@yahoo.com / subject line: Milton Magnet today!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tuesday, December 18th City Hall Meetings.

Mayor's Coffee / Coffee With Joe 9 A.M.


Board of Zoning Appeals 6:00 P.M.

MEMORANDUM

To: Honorable Mayor and City Council
Board of Zoning Appeals
Design Review Board
Jeanette Marchiafava, City Clerk
Tom Wilson, Director of Community Development
Daniel Drake, Director of Public Works
Mike Tuller, Deputy Director of Community Development
Jim Seeba, Transportation/Stormwater Planning
Mark Law, Arborist
Jimmy Sanders, Site Review/Development Coordinator
From: Angela Cutler Rambeau, Planner, Community Development
Date: December 7, 2007
Re: Agenda

Board of Zoning Appeals, December 18, 2007, 6:00 P.M.

1. Call to order
2. Approval of October meeting minutes
3. Approval of November meeting minutes

4. V07-014, Deferred from November,

OWNER/PETITIONER Steve Rothman
Birmingham Corner, LLC
ADDRESS 2849 Paces Ferry Road
Suite 700, Overlook 1
Atlanta, GA 30339
PHONE 404.853.1812


PROPERTY INFORMATION

ADDRESS 981 Birmingham Road
DISTRICT, LAND LOT 2,2,380
OVERLAY DISTRICT BIRMINGHAM CROSSROADS
EXISTING ZONING C-1 ACREAGE 2.03
EXISTING USE CELL TOWER (U92-02), UTILITY EASEMENTS
FUTURE LAND USE NEIGHBORHOOD LIVING/WORKING
DESIGNATION
REQUESTED VARIANCE(S)
1. To allow a building to exceed the maximum setback of 10 feet along Birmingham Hwy, by 45 feet.
2. To allow a building to exceed the maximum setback of 10 feet along Birmingham Road by, 71 feet.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT STAFF ANALYLSIS
STAFF CONTACT ANGELA RAMBEAU


678.242.2539

Background:

The site, 981 Birmingham Road, is located at the southeast corner of Birmingham Highway (S.R. 372) and Birmingham Road, and consists of 2.03 acres. It was zoned to C-1 unconditional in November 2004. The proposed development is located within the Birmingham Crossroads Overlay District. As shown on the attached site plan, the site includes a 30 foot wide utility easement along Birmingham Road and Birmingham Highway containing high voltage electric transmission and distribution lines and structures for Georgia Power, Sawnee EMC and communication lines for Bellsouth.
The developers, Birmingham Corners, LLC have proposed a building that contains approximately 10,500 square feet of first floor area with a 3,060 square foot mezzanine/storage second level. Forty-seven (47) parking spaces are proposed, along with a pharmacy drive through. This number is within the City of Milton requirements for parking spaces.
The City of Milton Design Review Board (DRB) reviewed the proposed development on June 5, 2007 and offered the following suggestions:
• Work with architect to create a building that fits character of area. Study old drugstores to see characteristics.
• Building should be two story; extend building over drive through so that it does not look like an ‘add on’.
• Possibly reduce number of parking spaces.
• Provide some kind of decorative feature/gateway at corner.

The applicant submitted plans for a Land Disturbance Permit to the City on June 6, 2007.
Section 12H(2).4.A.1.c/12H(2).5.A.1 of the City of Milton Zoning Ordinance requires a maximum setback of ten feet along existing roads(Birmingham Highway, Birmingham Road, Hickory Flat Road) in the Birmingham Crossroads Overlay Village center. The applicant’s variance proposes a minimum setback of 55 feet along Birmingham Highway and a minimum setback of 81 feet along Birmingham Road.

Standards for Consideration:

The applicant has indicated a justification for variance based on the following standard(s):
1. Relief, if granted, would be in harmony with, or could be made to be in harmony with, the general purpose and intent of the Zoning Ordinance.
The applicant states that positioning the building in its proposed location will support the Zoning Ordinance’s stated purpose which includes "securing safety from fire, flood and other dangers…, providing adequate light and air…, and facilitating adequate provision for transportation, communications …and other public requirements." If the maximum setback is enforced, the terms of the utility easements would be violated, as the building would have to be placed under the high voltage transmission and distribution lines, communication lines and within the utility easements. The utility easement prohibits the construction of a building within its boundaries. The possibility of a fallen line or pole causing a fire or electrocuting someone would pose a threat to public safety, as well. The proposed location of the building would also allow adequate space to provide for future above and underground transmission lines and the necessary space to maneuver repair vehicles when repairs are necessary. The applicant states that the proposed building would be placed as close to the road as possible, without violating the terms of the utility easements and high voltage lines.
2. The application of the particular provision of the Zoning Ordinance to a particular piece of property, due to extraordinary and exceptional condition pertaining to that property because of it size, shape, or topography, would create an unnecessary hardship for the owner while causing no detriment to the public.
The subject lot is shaped in a roughly trapezoid manner. The applicant states that the existing utility easements overlap the location of the maximum 10 foot building setback, thus preventing compliance. The applicant points out that the site includes a "hole" within its boundaries. This hole is a 6,400 square foot cell tower site, owned by a separate entity. This limits the design possibilities on the applicant’s site. According to the applicant, the shape and configuration of the lot, as well as the topographical characteristics due to the existence of the many utility poles and lines all converging on the subject property along the sides of the lot which front on the roads, are unique, exceptional and extraordinary. All of these conditions were present prior to the adoption of the maximum 10 foot setback as required by the City of Milton Birmingham Crossroads Overlay District. In his opinion, no other lot contains these particular and similar features, especially no other corner lot with the maximum 10 foot building setback requirement.

Recommended conditions:

If the Board decides to approve the proposed variances, Staff recommends the following conditions:
1. Provide some kind of decorative feature/gateway/landscape area at the corner.




5. V07-020, Ronald Wallace
6. Other business
7. Adjournment

McMillian Vs Lane Ethics Complaint Delayed.

- Tim Enloe; AM Staff

A crowd of about twenty folks gathered Monday evening at city hall to witness the hearing for the ethics complaint filed by Ethics Board member John McMillan against Ethics Board member Carol Lane. The complaint was lodged due to questions regarding Mrs. Lane's manner of filling out a City Of Milton comment card earlier in the year. The hearing ended up being delayed due to the fact that only four of the five ethics board members remaining were available for the hearing; Susan Campbell was not able to attend. During deliberation of whether to hear the case, Ethics Board Chair Person Clint Johnson stated,"I think both sides carry a little bit of the blame in this (delay), the (ethics) board for not being able to get a complete board available, and the defendant's side for taking advantage of the thirty day extension before the hearing when you already had had an ample thirty day period to prepare for it."

After a brief ten minute recess with his fellow members, Mr. Johnson returned to the podium making the following motion: " My motion is that we comply with the seven member requirement which was tied to the more than thirty day extention and that would push it to December 31st...and we adjurn this evening and set a date between now and December 31st to have the hearing when we can have seven members here. If we cannot get seven members then I think we will have to...dismiss the charge because we could not bring it in a timely fashion." The motion passed three to one.

Opinion in the crowd weighed heavily in Mrs. Lane's favor; some calling the complaint politically motivated. One attendee did state that he was quite bothered that Mr. McMillan arrived after the 6pm scheduled time.

Both Carol Lane and John Mcmillan exited quickly after the meeting was adjurned leaving no comment.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Schedule Events At Milton City Hall Today.

This is YOUR city. Get involved by being a part of the meetings below scheduled for this evening.

Planning Commission Briefing 6:00 P.M.Agenda

Board of Ethics 6:00 P.M.Agenda

CPAC Meeting #8 7:00 P.M.Agenda

Share Your Thoughts.

Is there an intersection that you believe needs to be fixed? Are you tired of people speeding in front of your home? Do you like the gravel roads in Milton or do you hate them? Let the City Of Milton know.

Click here for more details:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=lChFiFuGrqvcE97k7Iyqbg_3d_3d

Police: Man Used Stun Gun, Raped Woman

By MIKE MORRIS The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / www.ajc.com

Alpharetta police have arrested a man for allegedly raping a woman after using a stun gun to subdue his victim.

The incident occurred Monday at an apartment complex in the north Fulton County city, Alpharetta police spokesman George Gordon said.

Gordon said the 23-year-old victim told police that her attacker shocked her with a stun gun, then used duct tape to tie up her arms and legs before raping her.

After the attack, the suspect put the woman in the trunk of his car and drove around for about two hours before releasing her. Gordon said the victim told investigators that before being released, the man pointed a handgun at her and told her he would kill her if she told anyone.
On Thursday, police arrested Dean Martin Fontenelle, and charged him with rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

Gordon said detectives believe that Fontenelle, 32, "has had some type of relationship with the victim's roommate in the past."

Once Fontenelle was identified as a suspect, detectives tracked him to an extended-stay motel in neighboring Roswell. He was arrested Thursday after a Roswell police tactical squad forced their way into his room, Gordon said.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fulton Ok's BillBoards In Milton.

by Jennifer Brock / Appen Newspapers / www.northfulton.com

December 13, 2007

Billboards may be sprouting up left and right in North Fulton after Fulton County narrowly agreed last week to allow 74 soaring signs -- but the cities are vowing keep the outdoor advertisements from going up.

Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a proposal that would issue sign permits for 31 billboards in Johns Creek, 15 in Milton, 23 in Sandy Springs, three in Alpharetta and two in south Fulton at its meeting Dec. 5.The say they did so because they faced a great likelihood of paying damages of $6 million or more, perhaps a lot more.The history of billboards in the county dates back to 2005, when the Alpharetta-based outdoor advertising company Galberaith and Associates, along with others, challenged the county's sign ordinance in court. Georgia Supreme Court found portions of the county's ordinance unconstitutional earlier this year.Mediation between the county and companies to settle the case led to the proposal, which would require the county to issue backdated permits instead of paying damages.

The county no longer has authority to issue permits within the cities, so the permits would be backdated to the date the companies applied for them, before Milton, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs were incorporated."[The billboard companies] were just saying, 'we won't go after you period, and we will indemnify you against anybody else suing you on this issue, if you will issue backdated permits,'" said Commissioner Lynne Riley.

County Attorney Gerry Clark recommended approval of the proposal.For Fulton County, it makes economic sense [to approve it]," he said.Commission chairman John Eaves agreed with Clark, saying the county will see significant savings if it would just issue the permits.But the county will not issue the permits unless the court approves the proposal."I will not ask my constituents to support something that we don't yet know is legal," said Riley.After the meeting, Riley said that the city attorney could not assure her that backdated permits were supported by law, so there was no way she was going to support it.

Further, Clark told commissioners if the county had declined the deal and companies were awarded damages by the court, the county would have the option to appeal."What happened yesterday touches off an incredible amount of litigation, all of which I feel is completely unnecessary because the county could have said, 'Thanks, but no thanks' and then let a court tell us if this is something we have to do," Riley said.Commissioners Emma Darnell, Robb Pitts and Lynne Riley voted to deny the proposal, while commissioners Eaves, Nancy Boxill, Bill Edwards and Tom Lowe voted to approve the measure."I am very disappointed that my colleagues thought it was the most responsible thing to do," Riley said.

However, Lowe said the court has told the county some of its attempts to block billboards was not legal and noted the court told the county to make a deal."This was a court-ordered mediation. The meaning was clear. We were going to lose, the court told us so. If we did not make this agreement, then our best legal advice was that we faced paying damages of $6 million. But I think that was a very conservative figure. I think it would have been more like $20 million."There are nine companies involved in the litigation, and to think that their damages if upheld would be less than $1 million apiece would not be likely, he said."To me, [the decision] was a no-brainer from a fiscal point of view. Politically, it is always easier to give folks what they want, but I couldn't in good conscience do it," Lowe said.Asked if he say any similarity in this case and the library case in which eight women accused the county of discrimination and won what eventually was an $18 million judgement, Lowe said yes. He pointed out that before the trial the case could have been settled for $600,000, and even after the judgment came in could have been settled for a third of the final judgment. But the majority of the commissioners insisted on appealing to the Supreme Court.

After hearing the vote, Johns Creek immediately filed a motion to intervene in the case. According to the city, only Johns Creek has the power to issue sign permits within its borders.The city also filed the motion because the agreement between Fulton County and the billboard companies "compromises the city's rights because it contains illegal provisions that both parties are asking the judge to give legal status."

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said Fulton County has no right to approve the permits within the city's jurisdiction."Once again, a majority of Fulton County commissioners chose to throw their citizens to the wolves and abdicate their responsibility to preserve the community's quality of life by failing to deal with their past mistakes," said Bodker.Bodker said the issue could have been avoided if the commissioners made the necessary changes to the county's sign ordinance that would render it constitutional."Instead, they chose to sit on their hands," said Bodker.

"Now, as they've done with so many other issues, they have tossed this into our [city's] lap and said 'you deal with it."Milton Interim City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said Milton officials were not surprised by the Fulton County Commission's move, which was likened to "throwing the North Fulton cities under the bus" by some at City Hall."We anticipated it," he said. "And I've already asked the city attorney to file the motion to intervene."City Attorney Mark Scott said Milton's strategy to combat the billboard vote was to file a three-step motion. First, a temporary restraining order that could keep the billboards out until a permanent judgment is rendered. Second, a permanent injunction against the billboard permits. Third, a declaratory judgment against the vote that would, Scott hopes, result in a judge ruling Fulton County doesn't have the power to give sign permits in the city limits of Milton. The city attorney said this case with Fulton County is interesting in that it doesn't necessarily challenge the constitutionality of an existing ordinance, as is the norm with billboard court cases."This is challenging Fulton County's ability to issue permits retroactively," he said.And depending on the outcome, Scott said Milton residents could wake up one day and find 672-square-foot billboards up and down Ga. 9. This is in a town where the sign ordinance limits maximum sign size at 120 square feet."Worst case scenario is that the companies get the permits and erect the signs immediately," he said. "Then we have to approach it from a code enforcement perspective. That's a nightmare."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Here is What is Happening Tonight At City Hall.

Many thanks to Kim Horne of the BHAlliance for this information.

Milton City Council Meeting - Thursday, December 13th 7PM
Milton High Girl's Lacrosse Team Proclamation

Important Rezonings Requested
Request to Privatize a City Road without Public Review

Come to City Hall to help honor the Milton High School Girl's Lacrosse team and voice your opinions about these important community issues. Decisions on these issues will make a difference in our community. If you can not attend the meeting consider emailing your opinions to the Mayor and City Council, click here for the contact information.


Tonights City Council Meeting contains several important rezonings that might be of interest to you. The full agenda and Staff reports are available on the Milton website.

RZ07-011 - Request by John McMillan of Southeastern Partners Realty to develop a 140,000 square foot 4 story office building on Webb Road at the corner of Webb Road and Cogburn Road. This site is next to the property which Mr. Morton is also requesting a rezoning and variance for the approved height policy.

Staff recommendation - Approval with Conditions. Design Review Board - Applicant was scheduled to go before the DRB on 11/06/07 and failed to appear. DRB held a courtesy review on 12/03/07. Planning Commission 11/27/07 - Approval Conditional for 2 stories.

Issues-The proposed office zoning is suitable for the site if it is developed at a maximum height of 2 stories. This would ease the transition from the office to the residential to the north. In addition, the policy for the site is for a height of 2 stories, based on the 1997 Fulton County Board of Commissioners approval. Also, policy for the surrounding commercial and office zonings limits buildings to 2 stories in height.

RZ07-018/U07-009/VC07-010 - Request by Ken Morton of Webb Road Associates to develop a Restaurant & 3 story Self-Storage. This rezoning request is for a 5,700 square foot retail commercial building and a Use Permit for a 3 story, 110,000 square foot climate controlled self storage facility with a 2-part concurrent variance.
Staff recommendation - Approval Conditional for 2 stories for the self storage & 1 story for the restaurant. Denial of both parts of variances.Planning Commission 11/27/07 - Approval Conditional for 2 stories for the self storage and 1 story for the restaurant, denial of both parts of variances.
Issues-The proposed commercial development is suitable based on the existing C-1 (Community Business) approved on the subject site as well as non residential zonings and development surrounding the site. However, the requested height is not suitable in view of adjacent and nearby property based on current policy to allow up to 2 stories in height pursuant to Z05-029 (a portion of the subject site) approved at 12,844.32 square feet per acre and not to exceed 2 stories and 00Z-090 (subject site) approved at 8,653.9 square feet per acre and not to exceed 1 story. It is Staff's opinion that the proposed use may cause increased burden on the streets and transportation facilities and utilities.

RZ07-019/U07-010/VC07-011 - Request to develop a 23,000 square foot 3 story office building with parking under the building on Deerfield Parkway. The applicant is requesting a Use Permit to exceed the district height restriction, Article 19.4.21, to allow the building to be constructed at a maximum height of 70 feet that included an underground garage and 3 stories of office and a 3-part concurrent variance to reduce the required buffers and reduce the undisturbed stream buffers for extra parking.
Staff recommendation- Approval Conditional & Approval of all variances. Planning Commission 11/27/07- Approval Conditional & Approval of all variances.
Issues- The 3.04 acre site currently zoned C-1 (Community Business) and was approved for retail, service commercial, and or office, and accessory 15,800 square feet, whichever is less. The site is currently vacant. It is wooded and contains an unnamed creek which flows along the southern property line, eventually draining into Lake Deerfield. The property is part of the planned development of Lake Deerfield, and is subject to covenants of the development. The property is also subject to the State Route 9 Overlay District regulations.

U07-006/VC07-013 - Request by JVS Landscaping and Lawn Care Co. for a Use Permit for landscaping business and to add a 3,240 square foot training building & a 3- part concurrent variance to reduce the setbacks and buffers.
Staff recommendation- Approval Conditional of Use Permit and Part 1 of variance. Denial of Part 2 & 3 of variance. Planning Commission 11/27/07- Denial of Use Permit and All Variance request.
Issues- Article 12H.3.1 Section C.1 of the Northwest Overlay District requires a 50 foot-wide undisturbed buffer, with a 10 foot improvement setback, to be located adjacent to all AG-1 zoning districts and all residential properties. All required buffers should be maintained. It is Staff's opinion that the proposed buffer reductions would have a negative impact on adjacent property owners and would not provide adequate protection.

In Unfinished the Mayor and City Council will consider a Resolution to abandon or privatize a City of Milton road, Black Oak Road located off Hopewell Road. The developer of the Manor, Lee Duncan of Brooks Land Inc. presented the Resolution to the City Manager on November 27, 2007 just one week before the December 6th meeting. The proposed Resolution can be found on the City website.This Resolution when presented last week at the City Council meeting had not gone through the approved legal government procedures. Some of these procedures are:
To include the required city agencies (Public Safety) in the process and failure to advertise public hearing through the use of on-site informational signage as well as press releases prior to the hearings.
The City requires that there be unanimous support from the community for implementing a road privatization: For the implementation of a privatization, a formal petition must be submitted to the City of Milton showing 100% of the property owners along the affected roadway affirm their support for the privatization.Maintaining the rural aspects of the City is a stated goal of the City of Milton. To abandon any part of this public road and give it to Brooks Land, Inc. would set a precedence for possible future loss of other public properties that belong to tax payers.

What Can You Do?

Contact the Mayor, City Council Staff and Public Works via email, letters and phone calls with your opinions about any of the issues facing Milton.
Attend the public meetings
Tell a friend, a neighbor and your Homeowner's Association (HOA) and get them involved.
Join the Birmingham Hopewell Alliance (BHA) as an individual and as an HOA and renew your 2007 membership.

Your opinions matter. Please copy or blind copy to the Birmingham Hopewell Alliance, info@BHAlliance.org so we can track responses and community desires as well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Business Coalition Wants A New Master Plan For GA.400


By DAVID PENDERED The Atlanta Journal-Constitution http://www.ajc.com/

A new master plan is being drafted to make sure a stretch of Ga. 400 develops into a nice place to live, work and visit.
Members of a business coalition in north Fulton County said Wednesday they intend to establish the first comprehensive effort to guide development —and manage its resulting traffic— on land flanking Ga. 400 from Alpharetta to Forsyth County.
To create such an overarching vision for growth, the business group tore a page from the planners at Midtown Alliance. Midtown's master plan, called Blueprint Midtown, is credited with fueling the economic renaissance that helped the once-blighted Midtown area rebound into a popular neighborhood.
"Just like Blueprint Midtown planned for the future of Midtown, this market has matured enough that we need a Blueprint North Fulton," said Ann Miller Hanlon, chief operating officer of the North Fulton Community Improvement District.
Signs of growth abound in a region that is less densely developed than the region to its south.
Just this week, the city of Milton approved rezoning for the final phase of a shopping center that will be half the size of Phipps Plaza in Buckhead. Deerfield Place is to open next autumn with retailers who want to a place in metro Atlanta's affluent northern market – Kohls, Target, Petco and Staples.
"The Ga. 400 corridor is known nationally as a great area," said Jeff Fuqua, president of Deerfield Place developer Sembler Co. "The average household income in the area exceeds six figures, which is pretty rare in the world."
The business coalition is made up of property owners who have agreed to tax themselves to improve the quality of life along Ga. 400 from Alpharetta to the Forsyth County line. The improvement district raises about $2 million a year.
Its most recent venture was to provide about $3 million to help widen a bridge on Westside Parkway. The bridge's total cost was about $24 million, Hanlon said.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Several Zoning Items Being Heard This Week.

There are several zoning/variance items being heard by the City Council this week. The Webb Road zonings should be of significant interest to people who live near Webb Road, are connnected to the streams near these sites, or are concerned about the development in this area.

To view the packet of information regarding these proposals please go to the City of Milton website, and click on the calendar and then click on the "agenda" and "packet" to see the details of the cases being voted on Thursday.

From Cogburn Rd the proposed office building is located about half way down Webb on the right hand side, before the day care which also has a zoning/variance case being heard. Due to the transitional location of the parcels to be developed, some residents believe a 4 Story Office building(maximum height 60 feet, 140,000 square foot), and the proposed 3 story (110,000 square foot) storage facility are not an appropriate use, size, or height for this area. Those of this opinion believe this type of office building is better suited for the Deerfield/Windward office park area where nearly 1,000,000 square feet of vacant or unbuilt space is currently zoned and available.

Also, it is believed that a storage facility of this size will be too large. City of Milton staff and Planning Commission recommended that the building heights be limited to 2 stories, and 30 feet in height, which should also reduce the square footage of these buildings.To get a visual of what this building would look like go to http://www.lauthproperty.com/ and look at the few 140,000 square foot 4 story office buildings they show on their website. Accessmilton.com encourages input from citizens like you to consider making public comment, emailing your questions or concerns to the Mayor and City Council, and making your neighbors aware of this project.

For more infomation, please contact The City of Milton direct at 678.242.2500

Monday, December 10, 2007

Michael O'Keefe Update On His Training To Fight Cancer.

Well, I finished the Atlanta Half-Marathon. It was much harder than I thought and wet (we know have a couple more days of water). I felt good when I woke up as my training had gone well and I had run more than 13 miles. My cousin and I parked the car down at Turner field and were going to ride MARTA to the starting point. This would allow me to get some extra miles in to prepare for the Disney Marathon in January. Well, we get to MARTA a little before 6am only to find out we did not have enough money. Luckily a nice employee gave us the extra to get on the train. However the train was late. By the time we got to the starting line we were about 8 minutes after the start. My cousin and I ran hard in the rain for the first 7 or so miles until the first 1 mile hill came. I hit a wall and my time slowed down. It was tough, and I wondered how I could make a full marathon. I kept going, focusing on what my mother had gone through and asking her for strength. With support from my cousin and my fellow Team in Training members, I was able to finish the run strong and finish in the top 50% of the 40 year old bracket.With the opening of our second Foster’s Grille in Historic Crabapple, training since has been tough. I had only been able to run a couple day’s since Thanksgiving. Saturday, I was able to get back out with the team in training members, and ran 12 miles. It felt good. A little over a month to go before the Disney Marathon. I have a couple big runs coming over the next two weeks before I taper down for the race.

Michael O'Keefe
O'Keefe Holding Group LLC
Foster's Grille of Alpharetta & Crabapple
okeefehg@bellsouth.net404-432-5022
The Best Burger in Atlanta

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New Poll Added.

Please share your opinion on our newest poll located in the upper right; this one is regarding the change coming to the Crabapple Area. This poll will expire on January 7, 2008.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Crabapple Master Plan Brings Out Citizens / Ideas.

Tuesday; December 4th, 2007.


By Tim Enloe; Accessmilton.com.

Milton residents came together earlier this week at the Crabapple Gov't Center in the hopes of having a say on future change coming to the busy crossroads. The meeting had residents broken up into eight tables; each carrying a city employee, and assigned board member, residents within one mile of Crabapple, property owners within Crabapple, as well as folks who reside in other parts of Milton. From the round table approach, many ideas were shared and some consistences came about.


Of popular opinion included extending Charlotte Drive to come behind Milton's Restaurant. Another mindset was focusing on any remaining development to carry a strict architectural theme and be business focused.


Among other ideas were:

  • Road widenings.

  • Installation of more traffic lights.

  • Removal of the one story blue brick building.


The next meeting is scheculed January 7, 2008. To find out more, please visit http://www.cityofmiltonga.us/

Milton Soldier Writes Home...

Letter from Simeon Germany Crisler to his parents,
Abel Crisler (1808-1881) and Anna Maxwell (1809-1868)
of Milton Co., GA

Submitted by Suzanne Coker[Account of the Battle of King's School House, fought on June 25, 1862 Tells of the death of JOSEPH T. RUCKER, son of GEORGE ELZY RUCKER, and of the wounding of JOHN RUCKER, son of SIMEON BLUFORD RUCKER. Joseph "Joe" T. Rucker was John Rucker's nephew. All these men were from Milton County. ]


Camp in the Battle Field This June 26 1862

Dear Mother and Father,

It hurts me much to have to write you such a distressing letter this morning in the way we all suffered yesterday, we were in one of the severest fights yesterday that has been fought at least one regiment suffered very much, (our company), There were three of our company killed. Two of our mess were killed. Joe Rucker and Levert Pilgrim were killed out of our mess, John Mosteller was killed, all shot in the head. There were twenty two of our company wounded and several of our mess was wounded. Dock got slightly wounded in the top of his head, Teasley got wounded in both of his legs below the knees but his legs are not broken. I hope it is not very bad. John Rucker was wounded in both arms but none are broken and I hope he will get well without loosing one of his arms, but Sandy Morris got his leg broke below his knee and will have to be cut off, I reckon. Ben Morris got his left arm broke below his elbow. I would like for you to tell Mrs. Morris about her boys. Monroe Emory got his right eye shot out, and the doctor says he will get over his wound. These are who were wounded in our mess and I can't mention the others who were wounded in our company. Captain Foster shot off one of his fingers with his own repeater. I tell you we suffered powerfully for about two hours and we had to fall back to get ammunition and I tell you I don't think it is near done yet. The Yanks ran into our pickets and I think our men are fixing to whip them back and I expect we will have more firing to day and I hope the Lord will be with us and give us a great victory but if it is my lot to fall in battle field I hope it will be a just cause for we are fighting for our country and our rights and loved ones left behind. I will have to come to a close and I feel so badly about the way our boys were treated yesterday but I did the very best I could and took deliberate aim while our boys were groaning all around us. I was close to Joe Rucker when he received his blow. He mourned very pitiful for sometime although his brains were shot out. We buried our dead this morning, we do not know how soon it will fall to some of the rest of our lot to have to fall on the battle field. I hope you will remember us. I hope the time will come when we shall meet again in peace and if we don't meet in this world I hope we will meet in a better world than this. So fare you well at the present, Father and Mother, June 26 1862 S. G. Crisler

[Note: Simeon Crisler was killed at Manassas, Virginia, September 5, 1862.]



Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kathi's House Built On Love.

In honor of wife, Milton man builds home for Kenyan AIDS victims.

By RALPH ELLIS The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / http://www.ajc.com/

Published on: 12/05/07

Like many middle-aged couples, David Gruber and his wife, Kathi, talked about what to do when they retired. At the top of the list: overseas mission work.
That dream seemed lost when Kathi died of colon cancer in June at the age of 52. David, a 49-year-old north Fulton County resident, mourned and searched for a way to honor his wife's life.
Mainly, he wanted to do something Kathi-like, which friend Connie Cheren describes as "taking grief and turning it into something good."

Five months after burying his wife, David Gruber snipped a ribbon at a simple stone and cinder-block building in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. Kathi's House, named after his wife, is the first dwelling constructed in a proposed complex for African orphans with AIDS and HIV.

It's a long way from Milton to Maai Mahiu, Kenya — more than 8,000 miles — and David Gruber took an unlikely route to get there.

David and Kathi met in 1982 at a nightclub in Charleston, S.C. David was a baby-faced Navy officer on a submarine that carried ballistic missiles, Kathi a good-looking divorced mother of two boys. David's buddy focused his attention on Kathi's girlfriend, leaving David and Kathi to play backgammon and talk.

"When the night was over she said, 'See ya,' " David said. "She wasn't sure she wanted to talk to me again. She thought I was too young for her."

David pursued. They married in 1984 and had two children, Courtney, 14, and Kristen, 20.
The family moved to Atlanta a decade ago as David pursued executive jobs in media. He's now a vice president for InComm, a company that produces wireless and gift cards.

Kathi concentrated on family, volunteer work at North Point Community Church and a job with the North American Mission Board.

The Grubers' home in Milton became something of a safe harbor for people at loose ends. It wasn't unusual to find a stranger living in the spare bedroom or basement.

"She was a forget-about-herself kind of person," said Leslie Simpson, who lived in their basement one summer as a college student working in Atlanta. Kathi even attended his graduation from Auburn despite being weak from bouts of chemotherapy.

Kathi empathized with outcasts because she was an orphan herself.

Born Choi Sook Hee in Korea, Kathi was placed in an orphanage by her mother at a young age. A U.S. Army Air Corps chaplain adopted Kathi when she was 3 and brought her to the United States.

When Kathi died, neither she nor David had met Connie Cheren, though they belonged to the same church. Cheren runs a nursing home consulting business, but her passion is orphans.
Cheren founded a ministry called Partners for Care that teams with churches in poor countries to improve medical care, with an emphasis on children orphaned by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Cheren was helping a Kenyan clergyman, Pastor John Njuguna Mwaniki, build an orphanage for six children infected with AIDS or HIV.

During Kathi's last months, Cheren and Kathi heard about each other through a mutual friend, but never met.

Kathi died June 5. David tried to figure out what to do next. Cheren took a chance, approached David on June 23 and described the needs of the AIDS orphans in Kenya. David instantly knew Kathi would have helped the orphans.

"It was a no-brainer," David said. "I said, 'How can we do this?' "

Gruber raised about $12,000 to build Kathi's House by helping to put on a concert in Roswell by a Kenyan musical group, Milele.

Atlanta architectural firm Gary B. Coursey and Associates agreed to design the complex and sent an employee to Kenya to look at the property. That connection came through Leslie Simpson, the former resident of the Gruber basement who works for the company.

Earlier, David McBrayer, a longtime Roswell resident who wrote and produced "Beat the Drum," a film about the African AIDS crisis, had donated film profits to the project. The money was used to purchase about five acres in Kenya, where Kathi's House was built.

Cheren envisions 10 houses, each accommodating five or six children, with a community kitchen and care center. The entire complex will be called Beat the Drum. That's what Africans do when they have good news to spread.

Gruber flew to Kenya for the dedication. He landed in Nairobi, the capital, then endured a bone-jarring, four-hour ride to the village of Maai Mahiu in the Great Rift Valley, the setting for much of "The Lion King." Gruber spent a week in Kenya and saw the face of AIDS close-up when the orphans sat in his lap.

The dedication occurred Nov. 11 with pomp and circumstance, Kenyan style.
Children, including the six infected orphans, sang and danced under a tent set up for the occasion. African clergymen preached and prayed. As a drum played, Gruber and the ministers led a procession to Kathi's House.

When Gruber cut the ribbon, the crowd cheered, but Gruber didn't feel pure elation. He kept thinking Kathi would hate being the center of attention, even for one day.

Then Gruber came home to Milton, bringing his photos and souvenirs. At the time he left, the children had not yet moved into Kathi's House. Pastor John was still waiting for water and electricity to be installed.

Cheren thinks Gruber did a noble thing.

"David really did carry out a legacy for his wife," she said. "It's hard for the average American to go into a developing country because so many things break your heart, and if you already have a broken heart. ..."

Gruber wants to keep raising awareness and money for Beat the Drum.
Closure is not what Gruber expected — or what he got.

He said he was interested in "turning the sadness into something happy for other people. I'm not sure for myself that there will ever be a day when I'm not sad. I still find myself saying, 'I need to call Kathi and tell her about this.' "

History of Old Milton County

Milton County was named for John Milton, Georgia's first secretary of State. He was credited with saving the official records of Georgia when the British occupied the state. Some of his descendants were General Homer V. Milton of the 1812 war, Governor John Milton of the state of Florida, General William H. Milton of the Confederate Army, and Mrs. William Y. Atkinson, wife of the Governor Of Georgia. Thanks to W.S. Bates, Milton County Historian, Old Milton County History and Genealogy Group, for this information.
Milton County was formed in 1857 from parts of Cherokee, Forsyth and Cobb Counties. Portions of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties were annexed in 1859. The county seat was Alpharetta. Milton County was a very poor county. There was only one paved road and no school buses. Fulton County wanted to expand and promised Milton County paved roads, school buses and a better school if they agreed to a merger. Roswell, which was never a part of Milton County, was also approached. In 1932 Milton County, along with the city of Roswell, became part of Fulton County.

Thanks to http://www.mindspring.com/~ednab/

Born Today In...

1875 is Rainer Maria Rilke; German Writer.

"Almost everything serious is difficult, and everything is serious."

(12/04/1875 – 12/29/1926)
Thanks to www.born-today.com.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Important Community Meetings- Get Involved.

Dear Friends, Neighbors and Milton Citizens,Happy December everyone.

It is hard to believe it is this time of year already. And while some are getting their holiday decorations out and preparing for this wonderful time for family and faith, please know that there is much work to do and much work underway in the City of Milton. While the election is behind us, there are issues and opportunities that need your continued attention and focus. Please stay involved, alert and engaged in all the opportunities before us. December is a fabulous time of year, but many rezonings, variance requests and important planning for the future for the whole of our community continue and your involvement remains as critical as always. Please review the upcoming meetings in the right margin of this release and determine how you can weigh in on the various items coming before Mayor and Council as well as the critical planning underway for our Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update including the Crabapple area. Council Member Zahner Bailey provides a tour of City Hall to involved Cub Scouts of Pack 3000, Den 11.I have had several opportunities recently to share the importance of community involvement with local scout troops, tours of city hall and my continued work educating our youth about the importance of making a difference each and everyday. They get it and they set a good example for all citizens of Milton. These young people inspire me everyday and I hope they will inspire you too as you look at your calendars and determine how to best to ensure your opinions are shared and heard.There is a very important meeting this evening Monday, December 3rd tied to the Crabapple area. This is the second of at least three meetings to gather input from citizens regarding what they want for the future of Crabapple within the context of the whole of Milton and as a part of the overall Comprehensive Land Use Planning Update process. We have a wonderful opportunity ahead of us all to ensure that the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) update process truly reflects the vision of the citizens of Milton. But after attending the first meeting on Nov. 19th, I am concerned that not enough local residents were present and engaged. I believe strongly in public participation and sound planning principles. I have some concerns that the current efforts in Crabapple have the appearance of pushing for an accelerated and increased development approach outside of the overall Comprehensive Land Use Planning Update process. I am confident that if many of us offer our opinions in the current process then community voice will be at the center of guiding what evolves. But make no mistake, without the voice of the community firmly at the table, there is a risk that Crabapple will get more density and a more accelerated process that could undermine sound planning principles. As an example, right now it is estimated that 75% of what has been approved for Crabapple in the way of commercial and office density is not yet even on the ground, but some are pushing for more density without yet knowing the impact of that approved and yet not yet built density. I am hopeful that instead, we all can take an educated and analytical look at Crabapple together as a part of the whole, and with appropriate timeframes versus a timeline mirroring specific deferred zoning cases, and come up with a long range plan that truly makes sense for the whole of Milton. Your attendance at tomorrow night's meeting and involvement going forward in the entire CLUP update process are very important.I am honored to represent your interests and appreciate the trust you have placed in me on your behalf. It is because of this trust I share the details of this release with you so that you might know of important and forever impacting meetings and planning processes underway. I am always available to address your questions, hear your views and comments and to seek ways to serve you in the best way possible. Together, this community will continue to be one of the most unique and wonderful places to call home and raise our families.Thank you for your continued support and involvement. It is only through your continued direct involvement that I can best represent your expectations for our community.All my best for you, your family and our collective community,

Julie Zahner Bailey
Milton City Council
770-664-5529 (h)
404-310-6344 (c)
Julie4Milton@mindspring.com

Former Alpharetta Councilman Wanted In California

by Hatcher Hurd / http://www.northfulton.com/ / Appen Newspapers

November 30, 2007

Former Alpharetta Councilman R.J. Kurey, the only elected official in Georgia ever booted out of office by his peers on the board, now appears to have more serious problems with police in California.According to police in Fontana, Calif., Kurey is a suspect in what one detective called "a large-dollar check fraud." Police did not want to talk about details of the case until they had Kurey in custody.Kurey's name came to the attention of Milton police when Fontana detectives sent a request to check out Kurey's last known address, apparently that of a Milton apartment less than a mile from police headquarters. Officers were trying to find Kurey so that they could file for extradition so they contacted police here.However, Fontana police did not say there was a warrant for his arrest.

Kurey had recently renewed his Georgia driver's license with that address, although acquaintances had reported seeing Kurey in Las Vegas and was reportedly living there now.The mercurial ex-councilman, who sandwiched two successful campaigns for a council seat between two unsuccessful runs at the mayor's job, was always making headlines in celebrated feuds with fellow council members or in embarrassing peccadilloes involving abuse of franking privileges or verbal abuse of employees.

He was finally booted out of office in 1995 for continued misbehavior in and out of office ranging from allegations of sexual harassment, making threats against city employees and fellow council members and allegations he misused public funds for private trips.He finally dropped his appeal his removal from office by the City Council and dropped from public view.

He resurfaced briefly to announce his campaign for the Fulton County Commission at-large seat, but other than send out some solicitations for donations, he did little campaigning and never qualified for the race.

Fulton Sits On Cities' Cash But Says It's Over A Barrel

By DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 12/03/07 / www.ajc.com

Fulton County is sitting on $5.4 million of the city of Milton's money and another $2.7 million belonging to Johns Creek, and nobody is quite sure what to do about it.
The money is left over from special property taxes from area residents in 2006 before the two cities incorporated. A law called the Shafer Amendment says that money can't be transferred to any other county budgetary account.
So, the money sits in the bank, running up interest and gathering dust.
For Milton, the $5.4 million equals about a third of its $16 million budget. For Johns Creek, the $2.7 would help launch its fire department or police department.
"It would be like winning the lottery," said Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood. "There's a lot we could do with that."
But knotty legal issues must be settled before anything can happen.
"The Shafer Amendment is silent on what to do with leftover money," said Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley. "The intention was to spend it all [in the Johns Creek and Milton areas]. That didn't happen. The intention now is to return it in some way to the people who paid it."
Currently there are three options under review:
• Rebate the cash directly to the taxpayers
• Give it to the cities
• Use it as matching funds on behalf of the cities for road improvements
But the lawyers can't agree.
State Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton) said legislative counsel advised her that the county can just write the cities a check. She said if the county doesn't do that by the beginning of the legislative session in January, she'll introduce legislation making Fulton County release the money.
But Riley said the county attorney's office told her the county can't just give it to the cities because there's a legal prohibition against counties just giving things to cities. When cities acquire land or equipment from counties, they pay at least a token amount. Riley said she was told the law also says the county can only spend its money in unincorporated areas, which means they can't pay directly for projects inside cities.
Rebating the money to property owners could be problematic, as officials struggle to sort out who is entitled to how much. That process could be even more complicated by property changing hands, and the need to track down previous owners to make sure the right people get the rebate. And the rebate could be easily challenged in court.
Another option, one favored by Riley, would be to commit the money — with the cities' blessing, of course — to the state Department of Transportation as matching funds for various road projects.
Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said he's fine with whatever mechanism is chosen, just so long as Johns Creek residents and businesses benefit.
"It's their money," Bodker said. "The vehicle doesn't matter. But the city could put it to good use if it's in our hands."
Steve Kelly, a Milton resident, said he would like to see the money returned directly to the taxpayers. If it does go to the city, he said he does not want it to go toward discretionary spending by the City Council.
"Put the money toward a land purchase for a true city hall, housing offices, court, jail etc.," he said in an e-mail. "All actually owned by the city."
Rod Pincumbe, owner of a UPS Store in Johns Creek, said the money should be rebated back to the people who paid it.
"It's the people's money," he said. "It's their property, it's their taxes. With computers, they should be able to figure out how much people should be rebated and applied to next year's taxes. I don't trust the government to spend the money. Realistically, we're not going to get that money. The government isn't going to give it back. Probably, it will be one government giving it to another government."
Lynna Walsh, 48, of Johns Creek said the money should go to the city.
"Right now, we have a lot of faith in the city," she said. "We see them at homeowners meetings, we see them at church. We know them on a personal basis. We vote for the council. I think they'll spend the money for the benefit of the city."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Letter To The Editor:

I’m writing because the future of Crabapple Crossing is taking shape over the next month, and it seems that very few people are paying attention.

This letter is an attempt to fill in the blanks in communications about the process that takes to the future, the stakes in the decisions we are making right now, and to pose some critical questions that I believe must be answered before anyone can begin to make an informed decision on what we want for Crabapple.


I know going in that some of what I am saying is wrong. Where that is the case, somebody PLEASE correct me. I think we are all going to pay the price for the current confusion.

The Milton Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) held the first meeting on Nov. 19 to gather opinions on what residents wanted Crabapple Crossroads to be. All of 50 people showed up; a sizeable number of those were developers.


Two more meetings are to follow. The next, on Monday Dec. 3, is a “workshop” to fine tune the results of the first meeting. The final meeting, I believe, is to finalize what happened in the first two.

The deadline for completion of this phase is the end of January. That document will be come part of the Milton Comprehensive Plan, which is to be completed by the end of May.


Focus: the Crabapple Comprehensive Plan.

The focus of the meeting was the Crabapple Comprehensive Plan, which has had an unfortunate history. There are many twists and turns, but the short version will help create the baseline for what comes next.

The Plan was commissioned by Fulton County and created over two years by academics, professional planners with community input from two advisory groups and surveys. The objective was to allow development, but in a way that protected the character of the Milton area.

It was adopted by the Fulton County Planning Commission in 2003. You can get a sense of what it was supposed to be, by going to Crabapple Crossroads of the Northwest Fulton Overlay District (Scroll down to Page 40 for the Crabapple section.)

In the final hours before zoning authority was handed over to the new city of Milton , Fulton County approved 16 projects. The people who were on those original citizens groups say the projects were rubber stamped in total disregard of the Plan; density, architectural standards, traffic, green space – every thing that that was supposed to reflect what Milton is supposed to be. Nobody seems to want to talk about how it happened, what the 16 projects are, and who the developers are who have taken advantage of Fulton ’s last-minute benevolence or, as some say, revenge.

In 2004, Fulton County designated Crabapple as a “neighborhood node.” That means, I believe, that the entire area could have 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail, and 100,000 square feet of office space – commonly referred to as the 100,000/100,000 rule.

Here is where things get interesting.

All of that commercial/retail and office density has been used up by the 16 approved projects – about 25 to 30 percent of which has actually been built. The rest are approved and cannot be changed.

That essentially means that from now to completion of the entire Crabapple area (on the East sides of Birmingham Highway and Broadwell Road ), no more commercial/retail or office buildings can be built.


Milton has already turned down one proposed project on Mayfield Road on that basis.

So: the big issue is that much of what happens going forward in the remaining build out of Crabapple, depends on what happens to the 100,000/100,000 cap. Generally speaking, developers want to lift it; residents aren’t sure what it means.

Change or not to change


Milton now has two options: change the Crabapple Plan, which would likely affect the cap, or keep the Plan as it is. Option two would likely limit the ability to build new restaurants and shops, which people want. But it would also prevent the building of multi-story office buildings, which people don’t want.

First meeting, unfortunately, added to the confusion

Most people, including me, came away from the first meeting more confused than when we went in.

The presentation was given mainly by a planner from BRPH, the firm Milton has hired to create the Milton Comprehensive Plan.


Unfortunately, his Power Point presentation was made to be viewed on a computer and not a projection screen. It made very little sense to most of us there. It failed to address many of the questions that people have. Given the level of our collective knowledge at the time, I don't believe we knew the questions to ask.

The CPAG members repeatedly stressed that the meeting was for citizen input.


But to provide that input, these are some of the questions that most of us need to have answered.

What are the 16 projects already approved in both the Alpharetta side and the clear-cut section? What will it look like? What are the set backs? What is the amount of green space? How much commercial will there be? What kind will it be? Where will it be? What is the density of the housing? How will the things we can’t change impact what is to come?

My understanding at the meeting was that this information would be provided by link on the Milton site. I have not been able to find it.

Where exactly will the next phase of development be located? Again. My understanding was that this information would be accessible from the Milton site.

Who are the developers who are doing the 16 projects, where are they from, and how many of them want to built in the next phase?

Is the land available or for sale, or will there be legal battles?

Is the 100,000/100,000 rule a suggestion, a guideline, a regulation?

If Milton decides to abide by it, can it be challenged in court?

And if it is challenged, would it be challenged generally, or by individual zoning request?

Is it possible that developers who want to challenge the rule to get more density in the next
phase are among those who took all the density in the first phases?

Why do we have to move so fast on the Crabapple part of the plan (to be finished in January) when the Milton Comprehensive Plan isn’t scheduled to be finished until May?


Suggestion #1: slow down

We should not start the meeting on Monday assuming everyone there knows enough to make informed suggestions. Stop and answer the above questions and others that I am sure people will have.

Suggestion # 2: Show up.

A turnout of 50 people, many of them developers, is a sad representation of this community.

I realize that many don’t live near Crabapple. But this is our downtown. It’s going to be something special, or it’s going to be another jam-packed, soulless Atlanta intersection. It’s going to be something much better what we have seen in the high-density, architecturally jumbled first phase of development, or it is going to be more of the same.

Sincerely,

Bill Ruffin
Six Hills

Crabapple Crossroads Plan Meeting Update

Many Thanks to the Birmingham / Hopewell Alliance For Sharing this information. Check them out on the web at www.bhallaince.org.

Developers Challenge Plan - Requesting More Density

Follow-up Meeting on Monday, December 3rd at 7PM
Alpharetta Crabapple Government Center

On Tuesday, November 19th citizens and developers gathered for the first of three meetings sponsored by the City of Milton Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee to discuss issues related to the Crabapple Crossroads Community Plan -- which is going to determine the future of Crabapple Crossing. The Milton Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee(CPAC) has been charged with overseeing the planning process for the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, by developing priorities that incorporate the values of the majority of the residency. The Milton Mayor and City Council has viewed the Comprehensive Plan process as one of the most important goals in the list of priorities for Milton. The process involves Steering committee meetings, community input forums, review by the Atlanta Regional Commission as well as a citizen survey being sent out in January. The entire process for the City of Miltonis expected to be complete in 12-18 months. Milton City Council committed earlier this year to review the current plan to evaluate ways to improve traffic congestion in the Crabapple Area. The traffic concerns become a secondary issue when the Crabapple Crossroads Plan was questioned by developers requesting more density than the approved Neighborhood Node allows. The approved Neighborhood Node allows for 100,000 square feet of commercial/retail, 100,000 square feet of office and 5 units per acre of residential, these square footages have been met to date by the existing and soon to be developed properties. This is your chance to be heard and to have a voice in the transportation plan for the the future of the Crabapple Crossroads. We urge anyone with an interest in the future of Crabapple Crossroads to attend.A brief history of the Crabapple Crossroads PlanThe Crabapple Crossroads plan is available from the following link, Crabapple Crossroads of the Northwest Fulton Overlay District (refer to Page 40 for the Crabapple section.)In March 2004, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment to the County's zoning resolution to create the Crabapple Crossroads Overlay, with a Neighborhood Node designation within the Northwest Fulton Overlay District. It designated approximately 511 acres containing the historic mixed-use center of Crabapple and the land surrounding it, and established policy for the Crabapple Crossroads Overlay area. Neighborhood Node designation limits retail/commercial to 100,000 square feet and office to 100,000 square feet.The Fulton Board of Commissioners adopted the Crabapple Crossroads Plan of June 4, 2003, as the policy for regulating development that would be consistent with Crabapple's historic and rural village character. The Plan would, for example, preserve 20 percent of the area as open space and create an interconnected transportation network to create a pedestrian-friendly core with surrounding residential uses. The current development was approved by Fulton County using the Neighborhood Node policy. The City of Milton continues the approved Neighborhood Node limits, and has denied a rezoning request in Crabapple on that basis. July 12, 2007 City Council Meeting.

Upcoming City of Milton Meetings

Monday, December 3rd- Crabapple Crossroads Plan Meeting
- 7PM, at the Crabapple Alpharetta Government Center,
agenda

Monday, December 3rd- Town Hall Meeting-Year in Review
7PM, Milton City Hall
Tuesday, December 4th- Design Review Board 6PM, Milton City Hall,
agenda

Wednesday, December 5th- Board of Ethics Meeting,
6PM, Milton City Hall,
agenda
Thursday, December 6th- City Council Meeting,
7PM, Milton City Hall

Friday, November 30, 2007

Know Your Milton: Rabbits!

Eastern Cottontail

The eastern cottontail is the most common rabbit in Georgia occurring throughout the entire state. It has dense brown to gray fur on its back with a white underside and white or cotton tail. There is usually a white spot on its forehead, the nape of the neck is rusty in color, and the feet are whitish. From head to tail adults measure 14-17 inches and weigh 2-4 pounds.

Cottontails breed from February to September, with 80% of the young born from April to July. Males are polygamous (i.e., have more than one mate at a time). Cottontails are very productive having 3-7 litters per year that range from 4-7 young per litter. Their gestation period is 25-30 days. Young can start eating vegetation after 8 days and are weaned from their mother after 14 days.

The eastern cottontail is active mostly from dusk till dawn. Their annual home ranges cover 4-13 acres. Research has shown that cottontails use a variety of habitat types ranging from crop fields, oldfields, and pastures to briar and shrub thickets. Brush and briar thickets provide important cover from predators and mortality rates are greater when rabbits venture into open areas with sparse ground cover. Annual mortality rates average about 80% per year. Mammalian predators (coyotes, bobcats, foxes, etc.) account for the majority (55%) of cottontails mortality with avian predators (owls and hawks) next in line (25%) as a source of mortality. Most mortality of cottontails occurs during the breeding season.

Cottontails use a variety of habitats, but prefer early succession habitats (i.e., a mix of grasses, briars, forbs, and shrubs). Early succession habitat can be created or maintained by combinations of periodic ground disturbances that maintain ground vegetation in a 1-5 year old growth stage. Cottontails, as well as most rabbits, feed on a great variety of vegetation. However, rabbit management is targeted primarily at managing for quality cover and not food.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Milton City Council Members Cleared Of Ethics Complaints


State Ethics Commission exonerated Councilmembers O'Brien and Lusk

By DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 11/29/07


Milton City Council members Neal O'Brien and Bill Lusk were exonerated Thursday by the state Ethics Commission of a complaint that has dogged them for almost a year.


"Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I'm free at last," Lusk said. "Your reputation and your name have been impugned, and it's out there in front of the whole world. It's used against you. It's an attempt to discredit you."

After a 15-minute hearing, the four Ethics Commission members voted unanimously to dismiss the charges, said Rick Thompson, executive secretary for the commission.
An identical complaint was filed in April alleging that O'Brien and Lusk improperly used city resources for personal gain when they asked the city clerk to send an e-mail to the press telling them of an upcoming fundraiser.


O'Brien and Lusk, who had only been in office a few months, said a quorum of the City Council was likely to be present, and they were worried that they might run afoul of the open meetings law if they didn't tell the media.


The city ethics boards' complaint unanimously tossed out the charges in July. The complainant, Leon Cole Jr., then filed allegations with the state Ethics Commission.
"It's baseless, frivolous, and vindictive," Lusk said. "Fortunately, justice prevailed."
Cole said he didn't think his complaints were frivolous. He said he remains convinced that the e-mail shouldn't have gone out, but he said he'll accept the Ethics Commission decision.


"I'm not angry," he said. "I did what I thought I had to do. Because of my actions, the elected officials know the citizens are watching their conduct, and that's worthwhile."

Transportation Town Hall Meeting TONIGHT.

6:30 pm to 8 pm

Milton City Hall - Court Room

Milton Residents are invited and encouraged to come to the first bi-annual Transportation Town Hall Meeting at the City of Milton tonight -- November 29 -- from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.
This informal meeting, held in Milton City Hall Council Chambers, Suite F, will provide discussion stations for Maintenance, Intersections, Bike/Ped, and Traffic Calming. Public Safety staff will also be on hand to discuss traffic enforcement issues. Come out and have your voice heard!Who: Milton Public Works staff membersWhere: Milton City Hall Council Chambers, Suite FWhen: Thursday, Nov. 29, 6:30 - 8:00 P.M.

This meeting will provide an opportunity for citizens to share information verbally, as well as through comment cards, survey questions, and by online questionnaire. A summary of the meeting results will be presented to Milton City Council in January.

Please attend this important meeting to share your opinions and get your questions answered in regard to Milton's transportation projects. We look forward to seeing you.

Milton City Hall, Court Room
13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107E
Milton, Georgia 30004

Spread the Word!

Web Site Gives Milton A Forum for, Well, Anything.

publication date: Nov 26, 2007
author/source: Al Levine / STAFF / http://www.beaconcast.com/

AccessMilton.com co-founder Tim Enloe is never far away from his computer.A web site devoted to the goings-on in the new city of Milton was designed as an Internet vision of Mayberry, where residents could talk about living amid horses and good places to buy a car.

Then came the nasty City Council elections. That turned the website, AccessMilton.com, into more of an Internet coliseum, where opponents flogged each other mercilessly.

Folks were waiting to see if the website’s post-election atmosphere would return to its homespun roots or resume its election posture, which was basically a text-message version of talk radio.

Co-owner Tim Enloe got his answer the other day after posting a lovely photo of a covered bridge and suggesting they’d be neat to have in Milton, “like the days of old.”

He received eight responses, most of them anonymous and most of them taking a dim view of the idea.“How quaint looking is a covered bridge that’s 24 feet tall,” wrote Anonymous, perhaps alluding to the city’s dislike for tall structures. “It would stop all truck traffic [including delivery of your new plasma flat screen] and deliverys (sic) to Publix, etc.” That drew an angry response from another visitor.“Thanks for all your negativity on the idea. That's real helpful. Guess we should all just move out of here since the city's going broke anyway.”

Just another day at AccessMilton, which Enloe developed to generate advertising revenue. So what if it occasionally feels like people throwing darts – at each other? At least they’re talking about Milton.

Enloe, whose background is in sales and the Internet, juggles three roles in his business life – selling real estate, working for a website that develops franchising and overseeing AccessMilton.

Enloe and business partner Scott Thompson recently expanded with AccessJohnsCreek.com and OurGeorgiaMountains.com. They also hold domains to develop Access sites for Alpharetta and Sandy Springs.

Their company, Magnolia Media, recently started a monthly newsletter. “It helps to keep the community abreast of various issues that people want to know about, from the very serious to the very laid back, like dog adoptions,” Enloe said.

The Milton site, which is just a year old, received its 100,000th hit way back in March.

AccessMilton.com was abuzz during the recent council elections, and the site correctly predicted the results, with an unscientific Internet poll indicating incumbent Julie Zahner Bailey and the two newcomers she favored would win easily.

The most recent question posted – Do you believe tax incentives should be given to Milton land owners in order to discourage them from subdividing their land? – shows a wide majority voting yes.

When Enloe dreamed up AccessMilton, there was little newspaper coverage in the area. The field was wide open for an information source. “The basic focus is to marry a community with businesses in an online open format,” Enloe said. But the reason for its creation was simpler.Two years ago, Thompson, the business associate, was looking to buy a car. He ended up having to go to South Georgia to find the model he wanted.“After he purchased the car, it turned out that right around the corner from him there was the same car for sale, and he didn’t know about it,” Enloe said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it have been nice, like back in the days of a Andy Griffith-Mayberry feel, to have a site where you never know what you know until you look around the corner?’”

Enloe had been involved in e-commerce for awhile. Thompson is an expert in search optimization. It was a marriage made in Barron’s.

As far as local content goes, the pair didn’t need to look farther than Enloe, who grew up in the little town and is a walking history book about Milton.He can tell you what farm used to be where and pinpoint the location of a well-hidden waterfall that drops 100 feet into a granite cavern.

He can share suburban legends, too.“I had always heard as a boy the reason the east side of [Ga.] 400 built out quicker than the west side, that being Milton, was because of granite mines,” Enloe said. “Originally, they were planning on putting North Point Mall where the silos [on Crabapple Road] are. It’s harder to build in areas that are granite because you have to blast.”

He is also inspired to write essays about his Milton experiences. His recent tale, about the day in 1980 when a massive white bull named Whitey protected his herd by beating the stuffing out a young bull that came a-courting, was burned into his memory from a treehouse on the family property.

But the recent elections turned the nostalgic site into a political bullring. “I never thought it would be as politically charged as it has been,” Enloe said. “We agreed that AccessMilton has to be objective.”A couple of times, however, he has had to edit language.“There’s always a chance that kids could be clicking around,” Enloe said. “I want kids to be kids as long as [possible]. Vulgarity, unfortunately, makes kids grow up.”