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Friday, June 29, 2007

Take Advantage Of Increased Opportunities To Get Involved

by Mayor Joe Lockwood

A vibrant city is built on active citizen participation. Milton is blessed to have numerous residents who have already stepped up to get involved through opportunities such as the Milton Volunteer Pacers (MVPs), which has worked on arts and history projects as well as driving the ‘Furnish the Firehouse’ campaign to provide much-need furnishings and equipment for our new fire service.

Well now you have two more ways to get involved with making Milton a better place for us all to live – the Adopt-A-Road and Citizen Deputy programs.

Most people are probably familiar with the Adopt-A-Road concept, in which civic-minded organizations, businesses and even individuals “adopt” a stretch of roadway – a minimum of one mile – and hold regular cleanups to reduce litter. Milton, working in conjunction with Keep North Fulton Beautiful, has launched its own version of the Adopt-A-Road concept.

Adopting organizations must make a minimum two-year commitment to the program, participate in safety training/orientation, and perform at least four cleanups a year (although additional cleanups as needed are encouraged). The city provides basic supplies such as vests, gloves, trash bags and “grabbers” to pick up the litter.

Organizations interested in participating should contact Linda Blow, project coordinator, at linda.blow@cityofmiltonga.us or call her at 678.242.2489. You can also print and fill out the required Adopt-A-Road forms from the city’s Web site (click on “Forms & Permits” link) and fax them to 678.242.2499.

The Citizen Deputy program is an initiative of our Community Development department, and it too is found in many other communities. Participants assist our code enforcement officers with removal of illegal signage within the right-of-way as well as reporting zoning and other code violations. The deputies also help educate their fellow residents about city codes and zoning. The end result is cleaner, safer neighborhoods and improved property values. If you are interested in this program, call 678.242.2500 or send an e-mail to mailto:info@cityofmiltonga.us?subject=Citizen%20Deputy and put “Citizen Deputy” in the subject line.
***
I am extremely proud to note that, after just seven months of incorporation, Milton has earned the Certified City of Ethics designation from the Georgia Municipal Association. The voluntary program, developed by a panel of business and government leaders, encourages cities to adopt and adhere to a set of key ethical principles and a comprehensive model ethics ordinance. Milton was one of 14 cities – and the newest in the state – to receive the designation at GMA’s annual conference in Savannah. Mayor Pro Tem Karen Thurman accepted the award on the city’s behalf.
***
Thanks to the efforts of Council Member Bill Lusk, the U.S. flag now flies proudly over Milton City Hall in the Deerfield Professional Centre. Mr. Lusk, a Navy Seabee and Vietnam veteran, personally purchased the flagpole and provided the labor to have it installed. On Flag Day June 14, several other Council members and I joined Mr. Lusk, city staff, and representatives of several veterans groups as a U.S. Army Honor Guard hoisted the Stars and Stripes up the pole for the first time. It was a stirring ceremony and we now have a daily reminder that freedom truly is not free.
***
It was a year ago in July that voters in Milton overwhelming approved incorporation, followed by the election in November and then the official incorporation on Dec. 1. We are in the planning process for a “birthday party” for Milton to be held early in the fall. Look for more details to come.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

State House Update

Friends and Neighbors-

I selected and listed 17 bills below that will be on the Georgia General Assembly's plate next January when session reconvenes. They were introduced in the 2007 session. These bills either represent significant changes to the status quo or reflect a clashing of differing perspectives on an issue. The list is by no means comprehensive, though, because hundreds of bills are introduced each year.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts on legislation. Keep in mind that each bill could change substantially during the committee process and may not proceed at all. You can read bills in their entirety at http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=unbivbcab.0.nh86l7bab.cjjqc7bab.1766&ts=S0262&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.legis.state.ga.us%2F.

Separately, the legislation I personally work on primarily reflects several passions I have for the great state of Georgia. I will continue to focus on:

1. Transforming education, which forms the cornerstone for broad economic development and opportunity for the individual. No state issue outweighs the need to focus like a laser on significantly increasing Georgia's graduation rate. Nothing else the state could do would change more lives, spur more job creation and wealth, and affect every other facet of state government. It will require bold change over time.

As Zig Ziglar said, "If you keep on doing what you're doing, you'll keep on getting what you're getting." We can't settle for getting what we're getting.

2. Restraining government's reach into people's wallets and lives by limiting taxes and relentlessly questioning what government's role should be - and not be.

3. Bringing government closer to the people so citizens are its master and government is their servant. Georgians are both government's taxpaying owners AND customers, and I evaluate every state issue with that in mind.

I look forward to working on legislation in the off-season in preparation for next year. In particular, I'll work on:

- Public charter school reform
- Statewide tax reform on the House Ways and Means Committee
- Advance preparation for next year's budget process as a Vice Chair of Appropriations
- A comprehensive study of the proposed re-creation of Milton County through a $400,000 state grant to GA State University and UGA. Additionally, I was appointed by the Speaker to serve on a separate study committee to evaluate Fulton County governance.

This concludes my update series on the 2007 legislative session. Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 46 and Georgia. If I can be of service, please call on me.

Best-

Jan Jones
State Representative - District 46
(Serving northwest Fulton, including Milton, Roswell, Alpharetta and Mountain Park)

LEGISLATION INTRODUCED AND STILL KICKING AROUND FOR 2008

Freeze property tax reassessments through a homestead exemption - HR 3

Would freeze property tax reassessments for property owners claiming a homestead exemption. Would allow property taxes (calculated from reassessments) to increase up to 3 percent or the rate of inflation (Consumer Price Index), whichever is lower, as long as a homeowner owns his home. Would apply to property taxes collected by counties, cities and school boards. Some counties, including Fulton and Chatham Counties, already have the freeze in place. Only one city does, Sandy Springs; The freeze was passed as local legislation and approved by a local referendum (required for homestead exemptions) one year after Sandy Springs was created. Bill requires a two-thirds vote in the Assembly and a statewide vote to amend the state constitution.

Allow historically-merged counties to be re-created - HR 12 (Authored by Rep. Jan Jones)

Milton County and/or Campbell County could be re-created through a local referendum. Both were merged into Fulton County in 1932. They are the only remaining historically-merged counties in Georgia. If re-created, Milton County would rank fifth in Georgia county population. Campbell County would rank 13th and Fulton County would drop from 1st to 4th. (out of 159 current counties). A major university study will be conducted in 2007 to evaluate it. Requires a two-thirds vote by the Assembly and a statewide vote to amend the state constitution.

Restrict red light cameras - HB 77
HB 883, HB 890, HB 892


Would reduce the revenue cities collect from red light camera violations. The intent is to lessen the financial incentives to install red light cameras for reasons other than public safety. For example, Marietta collected $1.6 million at one intersection in one year. Over 70 percent of the House voted either to approve the bill or approve an amendment outlawing red light cameras outright. Bill sits in the Senate after passing the House. Three additional red light camera bills were introduced before session ended assuring this issue will be debated again next year.

Senior citizens state income tax exemption - HB 195

Extend the 6 percent state income tax exemption to all retirement and unearned income for seniors aged 65 and older. Currently, the senior state income tax exemption kicks in at age 62 for the first $30,000 of income and will increase to $35,000 in 2008. The bill would ratchet up the amount excluded each year until 2013 when all retirement and unearned income for seniors aged 65 and older would be exempt.

Limit when special elections and referendums could take place - HB 296

Special elections, including sales tax referendums, would be restricted to fewer dates when more voters participate in elections. Currently, special elections can take place four times per year. The allowable dates would be November (at the time of municipal elections) in odd years; and three times in even years at the time of the presidential preference, primary and general elections. Would not apply to recall or special federal and statewide elections.

Award extra credit for high school honors classes in calculating HOPE eligibility
This surfaced through an amendment to a bill that did not make it through the legislative process, but had wide support.

Change PeachCare qualifications - HB 340

Modify the qualifications for means-tested taxpayer-provided healthcare for children to bring it more in line with other states, Medicaid and the state health insurance plan. Would reduce the eligibility threshold from 235 percent of the federal poverty rate to between 125 and 200 percent of the rate. Would give consideration to requiring co-payments. Would charge $25 per visit for non-emergency room visits. Would increase utilization of generic drugs. Would include vision and dental care services for a premium not to exceed $15 per participant per year. Would not eliminate families currently receiving PeachCare services.

Allow counties to impose a regional one cent sales tax - HB 434

Multiple adjoining counties could choose to collectively levy a dedicated one cent sales tax for regional transportation improvements. The projects would be decided in advance of a local referendum to decide if the tax would be approved.

Referendum on a one cent sales tax dedicated to transportation - HB 442 and HR 509

This is an alternative proposal to HB 434 to increase transportation funding for improvements.

A statewide referendum would determine if Georgia would increase the state sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent with the additional penny dedicated to transportation improvements. Currently, the state Department of Transportation funds road and bridge maintenance and improvements through a 3 cent sales tax on gasoline and 7.5 cents per gallon tax. Since the current funding structure is based ultimately on the number of miles driven per gallon of fuel, funding per mile driven has fallen. As automobile gasoline efficiencies have increased, the per-mile driven revenue to fund maintenance and improvements has declined

Change Certificate of Need process and requirements for hospitals and independent surgery centers - HB 581

Studied in 2006 by the Georgia General Assembly. Closely watched by doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers. Numerous changes are expected.

Eliminate ad valorem tax on automobiles - HB 585

Phase out ad valorem taxes and replace funding to local governments with state dollars. The bill would eliminate the "birthday tax" on vehicles.

Charter School Reform - HB 881 (Authored by Rep. Jan Jones)

Would assure local and state dollars follow students to charter public schools. Would create a state board with autonomy to approve and have accountability for charter schools. Patterned after legislation enacted in Florida last year. Introduced the last day of session in the House. Will be studied by the House Education Charter School Subcommittee as part of an overall evaluation of Georgia charter policies prior to next session.

State tax reform eliminating property taxes - HR 900

Would eliminate all state and local ad valorum taxes on homes, property and vehicles. To fund the elimination of the property tax, HR 900 would implement a state sales tax on services and eliminate most state sales tax exemptions, including on food. Would reduce the state income tax rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. The state sales tax would remain at 4 percent. The proposal is projected to be revenue neutral. Bill sits in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Taxpayer Protection Act - HR 956 and SR 20

Would require increases in state tax revenues (after adjusting for inflation and population increases) to be spent in the following order and manner: 1. fund increases in public school enrollment and, 2. add to the state reserve fund up to 10 percent of the budget and, 3. reduce state debt or, 3. refund to taxpayers. Constitutionally dedicated funds such as lottery and gasoline tax revenues would be excluded. The bills are similar to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights legislation enacted earlier in Colorado, although modified, for example, to accommodate for increases in public school enrollment.

Sunday retail sales of beer and wine - SB 26

Would allow Sunday retail sales of beer and wine by local referendum. Georgia currently allows Sunday sales of beer, wine and alcohol in restaurants by local referendum. An amendment to the bill adding liquor may be considered. Bill passed the Senate and sits in the House.

Dunwoody incorporation - SB 82

Would incorporate 40,000 north Dekalb residents. The charter calls for a legislative council government with a weak mayor and districted council members. Bill passed the Senate and sits in the House.

Allow the creation of townships - SB 89

Unincorporated communities would have the option of creating a township by local referendum, instead of incorporating as a city or remaining unincorporated. The legislation calls for an unpaid citizens' town council with a restricted ability to tax and levy fines (maximum of one-half mill). Townships would primarily manage growth and development decisions. Municipal citizens of some of Georgia's 550 cities could decide by referendum to eliminate their current city status and be reconstituted as a township.

Speed Limit Comment from our Forums Section

The following comment regarding speed limts was provided by one of Milton, GA's newest residents in our Forums Section. On behalf of everyone at Accessmilton.com; We would like to welcome this new resident home!

"If you want to talk speed limits, you need enforcement and I would agree with the 40 or 45 mph. recommendations. A good convenient start of enforcing such standards would be relatively easy since Milton's own police department resides on the Deerfield Parkway. The speed of cars on this parkway on most days easily exceeds 45 mph; as recent residents of Milton, my wife and I usually take strolls on the sidewalks of this parkway; we feel that when we cross the parkway, we are at HIGH RISK. It seems the parkway would be highly convenient for the Milton Police Department to patrol, saving a great deal expense on gas, and generating some revenue, and insuring the safety of its residents. It's just a matter of time for a hit and run."

Have an opinion and want to be heard? Check out the Accessmilton.com community forums today!-> http://www.accessmilton.com/Forums.php

Old Country Roads Are Neighborhoods, Too.

Many county roads are zoned residential

An Editorial By Tim Enloe

Having lived on Bethany Road for the majority of my life, I have experienced more hometown change than most new comers would believe. As a boy, it was not uncommon for me, my two brothers and sister to ride our bikes down to a friend's house or over to the Emporium at Crabapple Corners for a Coke and some candy. The possibility of passing a rider on horseback was about as likely of that of an automobile. Since those days of innocence, the once Mayberryesque manner of this area as succumbed to rapid growth. Swim and tennis "communities" have sprung out of our landscape taking the place of quiet long established farms. These new developments have brought a huge increase in the amount of traffic on our old country roads. When considering all factors, such activity is a given. People have destinations to get to and the asphalt gets them there.

In touring these new neighborhoods, everything seems to have its place. The clubhouse, etc is over here, the land reserved for green space is over there, and side walks are full of kids playing and parents enjoying life. Even the 15 to 30mph speed limit signs are typically obeyed with "children playing" postings speckled throughout. Seeing as much as a cigarette butt, food wrapper, or and drink can thrown on a beautifully cut lawn is unthinkable. To witness that sense of community is a wonderful thing and should be embraced. However, that feeling of comradery shouldn't stop at the entrance. It should transcend to all sections of the city on a daily basis.

I have been very lucky to know many neighbors in the Bethany Road area. We too have a since of pride for our neighborhood and our city. Unfortunately, these residents can't take a leisurely walk or allow children within 20 feet of these roads. It has simply become too dangerous. Speeds in excess of 70mph in our 35mph zone have been clocked by North Fulton Police over the course of the past year and are common place. Even a high end car dealership off of highway 9 enjoys abusing Bethany road as a test drive track for their automobiles. I can't help but wonder how those driving these speeds would feel if others were that wreckless in front of their home. Also, trash is common place on these country roads. Many residents have the weekly chore of picking up commuters refuse who chose to make a trash can out of other people's property.

In closing, I would like to propose some simple solutions for the residents of our wonderful town. Drive the posted speed limit and let our officers focus their attention on more pressing situations. If you see a fellow commuter tossing trash out their window or going above the speed limit, write down there tag and report them. You might even volunteer and adopt a mile of our city's roadway. In the long run, every citizen will benefit. The cleaner and safer the area, the more impressive and valuable the property. Treat all areas as your neighborhood, even old country roads.

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Questions Fly Regarding Proposed Birmingham High

Citizens: We have recieved the following information from a source who has requested to remain anonymous. As always, we are more than open to provide the same opportunity for a differing view point.

- The Accessmilton.com staff.

June 27, 2007

The following information is from the Department of Environment and Community Development Recommendation for the subject site on Freemanville Road, (for the proposed private Kings Ridge Christian School), zoned AG-1, an undeveloped tract of land surrounded with scattered single family residential development.

The following information facts are direct quotes from the recommendation of the Site Plan Considerations for the Kings Ridge Christian School from the Staff of the Department of Environment and Community Development in the year 2000.

When Kings Ridge applied for its Use Permit in the year 2000, the Department of Environment and Community Development issued a denial. They specifically stated in the section of “Other considerations” that they “are concerned with the potential noise and light impacts from the recreation fields on adjoining property owners.” They also stated that, “while there is little that can be done to minimize the sound and light impact from these types of facilities their location on the subject site can be modified so as to minimize any negative impact on neighboring property owners. Limiting the hours for use for the lighted outdoor facilities might also help mitigate the impact on neighboring property owners. The Staff recommended the outdoor lighted facilities be complete by 8 pm on weekdays and by 9 pm on weekends. Setback of all lighted recreation facilities and parking areas from adjoining residentially developed property to 400 feet, which was reflected in the Recommended Conditions section.

In questioning whether the proposed use is consistent with the Land Use or Economic Development plans adopted by the Board of Commissioners: The proposed school at the requested size with the numerous high impact accessory uses is inconsistent with the long range development plans adopted by the Board of Commissioners which seek to maintain the rural agricultural character of the northwestern section of Fulton County.

On the effect of proposed activity on traffic flow from this (Kings Ridge) school, on adjoining streets: Staff anticipates a significant impact on the traffic flow in the surrounding area. Staff anticipates a maximum of 3,849 vehicle trips per day to the site and 978 peak hour vehicle trips. (This was for a school that would have at capacity 1400 maximum students attending and a stadium for 3000 students). (For Katie Reeves to state one minute that the school will not have any new students and their will be no more traffic impact then there already is incorrect to say the least. In the Milton Herald on page 6, (6/27) she states that “100’s of students will enroll over the next several years”. On page 25 of the same issue she states,” As far as traffic concerns, Reeves notes the new school will not be bringing in new students, it will serve students already in the system who now travel down the road to Milton High School”)

The space (Kings Ridge) encompassed 84.08 acres and noted that of its total acreage there is a large amount of open space dedicated to outdoor athletics. They were required to provide a 75 foot wide natural undisturbed buffer along all interior property lines and a 10 foot improvement setback interior to each of the required buffers. A 10 foot wide landscape strip is required along Freemanville Road.

In the staffs opinion the proposed private school at the requested size will have a definite impact on the low density residential and rural agricultural character of the surrounding area. They further noted the Board’s recent efforts (year 2000) to maintain the character of this segment of Fulton County throughout the adoption of the Northwest Fulton Overlay District and recent Board denials of high impact uses in the area. Staff does not view a school campus of this magnitude as compatible with the surrounding land uses.

Their conclusion was, “Given the size of the proposed school, the extent of the proposed facilities, the impact of the hours of operation, the impact of the lighting and the parking and recreation areas and the impact of the tremendous increase in traffic in the area combined with the Board’s policy to maintain a rural agricultural character in the area through the adoption of an overlay district and their recent denials of other high impact uses, Staff recommends the petition for Land Use Permit to be DENIED.

Now I ask the community how the Department of Environment and Community Development can make the recommendations above regarding a private school requesting to build on this same exact site several years ago, but it is okay for the BOE to come in and build a much larger impacting public school on the same piece of property with no accountability to the community, the City, and the County, the DNR, the EPA, the environment, and the Watershed, on the recommendations from Fulton County as stated above regarding the Kings Ridge proposed private school. If the environmental issues and problems for building a smaller private school on this exact site existed warranting denial, then the BOE must be held accountable for not placing a school on this site for the very same reasons.
Please sign the petition against this proposed school location!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ashley Hall Comes to Milton!

MILTON COMMUNITY OF UNIQUE
HOMES AND ESTATE HOMESITES

Every small community is a part of larger one. ASHLEY HALL is a small community located on the outskirts of the NEW city of MILTON, GEORGIA, but with Cherokee County taxes.

HOMESITES ARE 2 +/- BEAUTIFULLY WOODED ACRES.

Once you select your homesite at Ashley Hall, you may bring your own builder or use one of our CUSTOM BUILDERS. Only 13 opportunities available!

Our Vision respects restrictive growth policies; therefore, we are building a unique neighborhood with spacious 2 acre ESTATE HOMESITES.

Residents at ASHLEY HALL will enjoy the balance between tree-lined neighborhood streets and luxurious homes. The wooded acreage wraps throughout the community and creates a buffer of natural beauty.

Located on the “OUTSKIRTS” of the quaint city of Milton, you’ll discover a neighborhood recreated and remembered.

To find out more information, contact the experts at Exit Realty today!

Scott Smith 404-538-8514
Bob Smith 770-314-6847
Main Office 770-345-4545

Directions: Take Ga. 400 North to Old Milton Pkwy; turn left and follow to Broadwell Road; turn right and follow to Batesville Rd. Turn left onto Batesville, cross into Cherokee Co. Turn right on the first road after crossing into Cherokee Co. (Rowe Rd.) Ashley Hall will be on the left.

Milton Launching Adopt-A-Road Program

Civic-minded organizations, businesses needed for litter cleanup
The City of Milton, in conjunction with Keep North Fulton Beautiful, is launching an Adopt-A-Road program and is seeking interested organizations who want to help clean up roadways in the new city.The objective of the Adopt-A-Road program is to reduce litter by allowing the community to assume responsibility for sections of the public right-of-way. Any civic-minded organization such as garden clubs, church groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school clubs and organizations, businesses, business associations, even individuals can adopt a stretch of roadway. Participants must be at least 12 years old and participants 17 years old and younger must have parental permission.Adopting organizations must sign an Adopt-A-Road agreement making a minimum two-year commitment to the program and participate in safety training/orientation. Adopted road segments will measure a minimum of one mile and city officials have final approval of all routes. Organizations must perform litter clean up at least four times a year; additional clean ups are encouraged on an as-needed basis but are not required.The city provides basic supplies such as vests, gloves, trash bags and “grabbers” to pick up the litter.

Organizations interested in participating should contact either Linda Blow, project coordinator, at linda.blow@cityofmiltonga.us / 678.242.2489 or volunteer organizer Tim Enloe at tmenloe@aol.com / 770 653 0552. You can also print and fill out the required Adopt-A-Road forms and fax them to 678.242.2499.

Milton Earns "City of Ethics" Designation

Voluntary program promotes ethical principals, maintaining public trust

Milton was among 14 Georgia cities – and the state's newest city – to receive the "Certified City of Ethics" designation at the Georgia Municipal Association's Annual Convention in Savannah June 26. There are now 189 cities in Georgia which have received the designation.The voluntary program, developed by a panel of business and government leaders, encourages cities to adopt and adhere to a set of key ethical principles and a comprehensive model ethics ordinance. The ordinance guides city officials' conduct in areas such as financial disclosures, conflicts of interests and outside employment. The ordinance also contains strong penalty provisions - including public reprimands, fines and removal from office - for city officials who violate the ordinance. “Milton is honored and excited to have earned the designation as a ‘Certified City of Ethics’ from the Georgia Municipal Association,” said City Manager Aaron Bovos. “This initiative was originally sponsored by Council Member Neal O’Brien and supported by the entire Council and staff. We look forward to the benefits the program has to offer.”"The 'City of Ethics' program recognizes cities that make a tangible commitment to ethical conduct," said GMA Executive Director Jim Higdon. "We now have nearly 200 cities that have proven their commitment to honest, ethical government by adopting strong ethics ordinances. I am extremely pleased that cities have taken the lead on earning and maintaining the public's trust in government."A panel of attorneys reviewed the ordinances to determine if they comply with the GMA criteria. The cities received a plaque and are now authorized by GMA to use a "Certified City of Ethics" logo on city stationery, road signs, city vehicles and for other uses.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

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Milton Folks Clash Over Agri-Business

Homeowners take exception to agricultural use next door
by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers / www.northfulton.com

It seems many Milton residents moved here because of its rural character, but they get upset when that rural character means rural businesses. But agricultural uses are to be expected in a city that has 19,000 acres zoned for just that.When retirees Don Baker and his wife, Susan, bought the property at 1470 Redd Road to expand their orchid growing business, Rainbeau Flowers, in August 2006, they were elated.Don said the pair sunk their retirement funds into the property in preparation of moving their greenhouses, which have been located at their current home just down the street since 1990."It was supposed to be the culmination of our lives' work," he said. However, what has transpired in the months since then has been just the opposite. They have found neighbors angry at the way the property was clear cut, citizens upset by the construction of greenhouses they find "ugly and industrial" and meetings mired in governmental red tape.Lately, the protests have taken a darker turn, with disgruntled residents calling Bakers' clients threatening to boycott them and otherwise harass them."There has been a car that sits at the end of the road and watches us," he said. "Someone even followed my wife – trying to see who we sell to, I guess. It's introduced this element of fear into our lives. We never expected such animosity from the public."

These extraordinary instances aside, Baker's case seems to be symptomatic of a larger culture clash in Milton. Million-dollar homes sit next to working farms where the realities of the sights, sounds and smells of country living are not what many expected.

Kathleen Smith, who has run Hidden Haven Farm with her husband at their home on Bethany Road since 1999, said she has seen this phenomenon first hand.Her farm yields produce, chickens and fiber in small quantities – what she calls a "truck market" operation because the goods are taken to local farmers markets. She said, however, that her home's front pasture could grow a whole lot more if her neighbors would let her till it."I don't do it because I'm just fed up with hearing people complain," she said. "You know, it's real farming, it's not going to be pretty."In Smith's case, and in most cases throughout Milton, everyone learns to co-exist peacefully with each other save for a few temporary flare-ups.

Certainly it's rare for neighbors to be so openly hostile toward one another, as in Baker's case.Community Development Director Tom Wilson said what appears to have happened is that residents move into areas zoned agricultural expecting them to be serene, pastoral – and above all – residential settings."I think people are surprised when they get there that next door there is an agricultural use which has piled manure up right next door to their property," he said. "We have people living in agricultural districts and next door to them, we have people exercising agricultural uses."Wilson admits that smelly example might be extreme. But in the case of the greenhouses, the concept is the same since they are operating lawfully under the Agriculture zoning classification."And I think some people would prefer that it not be there, but it is the zoned district for it," said Wilson. "It's really about the person who lives in the residential house and what their tolerance level is."

Smith said she's noticed people aren't ready for all the realities and harshness of farming."People want the 'Disney-fied' rural experience,'" she said. "They want to drive by these farms on the way to their subdivisions. They don't want to actually be impacted by them."In other words, people want to see the little red barn but not the cows and chickens.As if to illustrate this fact, Baker said in the 16-odd years his greenhouses were at their prior location on Redd Road, no one ever really had a problem with them. It's only been since the move to a location where they are visible from the road that the he has run into static.

An April 17 Board of Zoning appeals meeting served as the sounding board for many of Baker's perturbed neighbors. There they aired their grievances against Baker and urged the board to restrict his use of the property on Redd Road."This is a residential area with very expensive, beautiful homes and very nice schools. And we understand the zoning is AG1, which is allowable for commercial [agriculture]," said Laura Houston, a resident of the Reddstone subdivision. "But [he carried out his plan with a] blatant lack of respect for anyone around him."

Later Houston said she thinks the Bakers should be sensitive to their neighbors."He told me he has been here since 1979 and he can do whatever he wants. But times have changed, and most people have changed with them," she said. Houston said her home sits directly across from Baker's greenhouse property and that he clear cut the area without understanding the implications. She also said his supply trucks block the neighborhood's entrance."We've got this monstrosity we see everyday that we come by our house," she said.Houston also alleged Baker set up business illegally and without permits until he was caught – an allegation Baker contends was an "unwilling mistake."She was joined in this opinion by Redd Road neighbor Steven Domenico, who forcefully argued that Baker worked without a permit and was fined for it."It makes this place look like an industrial park, and I don't believe any of us voted for the city of Milton to become like that," he said. "We'd like to keep it nice, residential. It used to be a beautiful horse farm and now it looks quite unattractive."The meeting saw roughly an hour of public comment on the issue, which ran the gamut of supporters and vehement opposition.

Smith said she suspects a number of Milton homeowners are so concerned about their property values because they know they won't retire in the area."They know the company is going to move them off in a couple of years, and then they'll make money on the sale of their house," she said. "We were going to retire here too, but now we're not. I just can't deal with the people,"Smith said she complained when people bought the farm land around us to make the subdivisions"Now it seems like they are in and they don't want anybody else to change the land," she said.

Baker and his wife suspect they may be lightening roads for larger frustrations about Milton's land use, citing resident fears over the new Birmingham School and Crabapple Corners."We're the little guy, we don't have a team of lawyers who come down and claim imminent domain," he said. "But what happens when they get rid of us? Will the horse barns be next?"At the end of the day, Wilson said he just wants people to be educated about what uses are permitted on agricultural land so that they are prepared when a neighbor might undertake a project like Smith's or Baker's."I approach this as an educational opportunity to let people know they are not moving to Virginia Highlands, they are not moving to Beverly Hills," he said.

Important Notice from the BHA Alliance!

Mark Your Calendars:

Ø Tuesday, June 26th Planning Commission Meeting 7PM, Agenda-Crabapple Rezoning Requests
Ø Wednesday, June 27th Community Zoning Information Meeting
Ø Monday, July 9th Ethics Board Meeting 6PM
Ø Thursday, July 12th City Council Work Session 3PM
Ø Thursday, July 12th City Council Meeting 7:30pm

All meetings are held at Milton City Hall, 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107, Milton, GA 30004.

Planning Commission

Planning Commission tomorrow evening will hear and make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council vote on July 12th of the following two cases. Your emails to staff and the Planning Commission requesting DENIAL can make a difference. The Planning Commission can be reached at PC@cityofmilton.ga.us.

Case #RZ07-003 & VC07-003 – Trinity Land Group - Deferred from May 22nd - City of Milton Community Development Department Recommendation- DENIAL of both parts.

The Planning Commission requested the applicant to revise the site plan to reflect the Staff’s recommendation of residential; address the Fire Department’s comments; the Arborist’s comments and allow Staff to review the traffic study submitted at the Planning Commission meeting. The revised site plan is inconsistent with the policies and intent of the Crabapple Crossroads Plan and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners policy; therefore should be denied.

The rezoning case # RZ07-003 exceeds the maximum allowable retail/commercial square footages and maximum density of the approved Crabapple Crossroads Overlay. Milton staff recommends denial of the request to develop 5.03 acres with 12,000 square feet of retail within 2 buildings each containing 6,000 square feet with 15 condos above the retail; to develop 2 detached townhomes and 13 single family homes for a total of 31 residential units.

The request violates the:

· Crabapple Crossroads Community Plan and Design Guidelines as approved by Fulton County Board of Commissioners, June 3, 2003 and adopted by City of Milton.
· Comprehensive Land Use plan.
· Fulton County Board of Commission Policy.
· Staff's recommendations for denial.
· Chapter 14 of the Milton City Code regarding Land Development including Soil and Erosion Control and Flood Damage Prevention. The proposed rezoning will add approximately 3.9 acres of impervious surface which is seventy-seven (77) percent of the site.

Additionally, the Fire Department and Arborist have concerns with the following:
· Amount of water lines and hydrants shown on the revised site plan.
· Site plan does not provide acceptable turning radii in front of the single family lots.
· The revised site plan shows the proposed locations of the specimen trees to be saved will most likely not survive because of the proposed parking lot and road on top of the roots systems.

Case #RZ07-005 & VC07-002 Milton Medical Holdings - City of Milton Community Development Department Recommendation- DENIAL of both parts.

The proposed use of the 4.09 acres on Mayfield Road of AG-1 land is to develop 16,685 square feet of medical office within 2 new buildings and general office within 2 new buildings; 4,000 square feet of commercial retail in the existing Dinsmore Farm House and 10 townhomes within 3 new buildings with a request to reduce the 75 foot buffer and 10 foot improvement set back. The proposed office, commercial retail and residential development are inconsistent with the policies and the intent of the Crabapple Crossroads Plan and Fulton County Board of Commissioners policy; therefore these requests should be DENIED. Both cases exceed the maximum allotted total square footage of 100,000 square feet for both Commercial/Retail and Office-

Additionally, the City of Alpharetta has been represented with a rezoning request PH-07-08, Shops of Crabapple, to increase approved square footages of 1700 square feet of retail to 4500 square feet. Together these three rezonings would far exceed the maximum allowable density. City of Alpharetta’s Staff notes that this should be denied, “there is not enough parking on site.” This case will be before the Mayor and City Council on Monday, July 23rd.

Community Information Meeting:


Rezoning request for 1.6346 acres of existing AG-1 land to Mixed Use for a 1,179 square foot commercial business operating as a county store and single family residence. The complete site plan may be viewed on Wednesday at the CZIM at City Hall.

Address: 15260 Hopewell Road
Applicant: Mark L. King, Reunion Park LLC

Important dates:

Design Review Board Tuesday, July 10th 6PM City Hall
Planning Commission Tuesday, July 24th 7PM City Hall
City Council Meeting Thursday, August 16th 7PM City Hall

What Can You Do?

 Contact the Mayor, City Council Staff and Planning Commission via email, letters and phone calls with your opinions about any of the issues facing Milton. Contact information at the bottom of this message.
 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.

City of Milton Contact Information:


City Hall
13000 Deerfield Parkway,
Suite 107
Milton, GA 30004
678-242-2500
www.cityofmiltonga.us

Mayor Joe Lockwood
joe.lockwood@cityofmiltonga.us
Karen Thurman – District 1
karen.thurman@cityofmiltonga.us
Julie Zahner Bailey – District 2
julie.zahnerbailey@cityofmiltonga.us
Bill Lusk – District 3
Bill.lusk@cityofmiltonga.us
Neal O’Brien – District 4
Neal.obrien@cityofmiltonga.us
Tina D’Aversa-Williams – District 5
tina.daversa@cityofmiltonga.us
Rick Mohrig – District 6
rick.mohrig@cityofmiltonga.us
Aaron Bovos – City Manager
678-242-2489
Aaron.Bovos@cityofmiltonga.us
Tom Wilson – Community Development Manager
678-242-2534
tom.wilson@cityofmiltonga.us
Robyn MacDonald – Planner
Robyn.macdonald@cityofmiltonga.us
Greg Wilson – Community Services Manager
678-242-2556
Greg.wilson@cityofmiltonga.us
Jeanette Marchiafava – City Clerk/Clerk of Court
678-242-2521
Jeanette.Marchiafava@cityofmiltonga.us
Mike Tuller – Community Development Deputy Director
Mike.tuller@cityofmiltonga.us
Chris Lagerbloom – Public Safety Director
678-242-2570
Chris.Lagerbloom@cityofmiltonga.us
Carol Wolfe – Operations Director
678-242-2505
Carol.Wolfe@cityofmiltonga.us

Local Newspaper Contacts:

Milton Herald

Hatcher Herd
hatcher@northfulton.com

Milton Herald
Jason Wright
wright@northfulton.com

AJC/Northside
Todd C. Duncan/Editor
tduncan@ajc.com

Doug Nurse/Johns Creek and Milton
dnurse@ajc.com

Monday, June 18, 2007

2007 Fall Elections

Municipal General Election date: November 6, 2007

Secretary of State Website: www.sos.state.ga.us/elections

Candidates:
• Qualifying Dates for Candidates: August 27, 2007 to August 31, 2007 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

• Qualifying fee for Candidates: $390.00

• Last day to file Notice of Candidacy to
have name on Municipal General Election
Ballot 21-2-132 (3) (A) August 31, 2007, 4:30 pm

Voters:

Voter Registration deadline October 9, 2007

How do I vote?

The Fulton County Voter Registration Office, (404) 730-7072, handles voter registration for all Fulton County residents regardless of the city or unincorporated area where they reside.
You must be registered to vote in an election. You must be registered as a resident within the area in which you intend to vote.

You must be registered 29 days prior to the election date.
You will be mailed a voter registration card from Fulton County. Your precinct and polling location will be designated on the card. For more information on voter registration, contact the Fulton County Voter Registration Office (404) 730-7072.

In order to obtain an absentee ballot, a Fulton County registered voter fills out an "application for official absentee ballot" that can be obtained at City Hall, public library, or from the Secretary of State website: (www.sos.state.ga.us/elections). The application is then mailed to: Fulton County Voter Registration, Suite 4064, 141 Pryor Street, S.W., Atlanta, GA 30303, or can be faxed to Fulton County (404-730-8839). Fulton County will mail the ballot to the voter and the ballot is then mailed back to Fulton County. It has to be received by Fulton County by 7:00 pm, Election Day, November 2, 2007. OR, the voter can go directly to North Fulton Annex at 7741 Roswell Road, fill out the application, and vote there.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ethics Violation Alleged In Milton

Mayor accused of giving own opinion as the city's

By DOUG NURSE / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Published on: 06/14/07

The latest chapter in the sparring between the mayor of Milton and members of the council is an ethics complaint against the mayor. His alleged crime? The mayor unilaterally — and incorrectly — informed the governor that city leaders opposed a bill approved by the Georgia Legislature.
Among other things, the legislation amended Milton's city charter to weaken the powers of the mayor.
Bob Moheb, a city planning commissioner, wrote in his complaint filed late last week that he believed Mayor Joe Lockwood had violated a provision in the city ethics code that says, "No public servant shall falsely represent his or her personal opinion to be the official position of the city and no public servant shall falsely represent his or her personal opinion to be the official position of any board or city administrators."
"In my opinion," Moheb wrote, "our elected officials should be held to a higher standard than the rest, and for this reason I think this is something worth looking into and should be investigated."
Lockwood said he believed he accurately was conveying the City Council's views based on feedback he received during a work session on May 5.
"I didn't try to mislead anyone," Lockwood said. "He [Moheb] seems to think I acted on my own. I think it's politically motivated. It's frivolous, and I'm disappointed."
The ethics code also states: "This shall not apply to statements of elected officials made in the course of fulfilling the responsibilities of their offices."
At the behest of state Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton), the General Assembly passed four bills altering the new city's charter, and sent them to Gov. Sonny Perdue.
The governor's office called Lockwood for his opinion. He asked Perdue to veto the legislation.
The governor's office wanted a response in writing that afternoon, so without following up with the City Council, Lockwood sent a letter to Perdue, saying the city opposed the changes.
At the very next meeting, the City Council voted 4-3 to ask the governor to approve the changes. The governor did so.
This is the second ethics complaint filed against City Council members since the city was founded Dec. 1. The first complaint was filed by Leon Cole against City Council members Neal O'Brien and Bill Lusk after they instructed the clerk to notify the press about a campaign fund-raiser in which a quorum of the council was expected.
An investigation by the city attorney determined they did not violate the prohibition against city officials using city resources for personal gain as alleged.

Could it be...Cowards Among Us?

An Editorial By Tim Enloe

As many of you know, I put my name in the hat for the Milton City Council District 4 seat this past summer. I ran the way I would want a candidate to run – with a clear conscious. I self funded my campaign to a tune of only $3,000.00 and refused any outside financial support. I did not want a contributor trying to steer my discretion in public office because of what they gave me in the midst of a campaign season. My focus would be on the citizens’ wants and desires. There were some exceptions which left me with a total of right under $300.00 in donations. (When all was said and done, the same $300.00 ended up covering the cost for three DVD-VCR players for our Milton Fire and Police.) As Milton’s first voting season came to a close in November, two run-offs came about. My self and another candidate still had our work cut out for us until early December as well as two others in another district. The voters spoke and I was left the lesser of two choices.

Fast forward to March of 2007 and rumors swirled of a "fundraiser" for two of the current city councilmen. It would eventually come to light that the two councilmen asked the city clerk to publicize a political fund-raiser for their campaigns. According to State Ethics Commission Executive Director Rick Thompson, "The law states no public agency shall directly or indirectly promote a candidate or elected official." It wasn’t long until an ethics complaint against the two came by means of retired school teacher Leon Cole Jr. He would write "(These two councilmen) should be formally and publicly reprimanded for their intentional, significant and unlawful personal use of public resources." The last I heard, the investigation is ongoing.

One of the sites our company runs is AccessMilton.com; a community focused website for all things Milton, GA.

While we pull credited stories from local news sites, we also provide avenues for citizens to give input or question. One such instance was the initial invite sent out for the "fundraiser" listed above. Due to numerous requests, we posted it in our news & forums section on March 28, 2007 and alerted all visitors much like we have with stories past. In the long run, it would appear that some didn’t like this extra attention…

My wife Ginger called me in early April relaying that I had received a piece of mail from the City of Milton. The letter dated April 3rd, 2007, began "Please be advised that I serve as the City Attorney of the City of Milton, Georgia." Hmmm. Ok. Keep reading. "It has come to our attention...through members of the community that the manner in which you are going about soliciting donations is problematic." Huh? " We understand that you have been contacting individuals directly and directing them to make their contributions through your "Access Milton" website." Our city attorney and his accusers are incorrect. I have never told anyone to make donations to Accessmilton.com on behalf of the city's Fire and Police Charitable Group. We do have a separate Fire and Police fund that was set up during my campaign that eventually would evolve into part of our business model. Each year starting in January of '08, we will be donating 10% of our profits to the Milton Fire & Police departments. (Prior, we were actually contacted by a city staff member inquiring about the fund before they had initiated their own. I offered control of this fund to the city with a simple request to give recognition to those who started it. A day later, an email received declined.) "To the extent that "hits" on your website may benefit you or your company directly, there is at least an argument that can be made that this is a violation of the City Ethics Ordinance." I was always led to believe that attorneys are necessary to ensure that no stone is left unturned regarding a dispute.

For the assumptive and ill-informed, AccessMilton.com generates revenue in one of two ways:

A. An advertiser pays for space on the website.

B. A visitor to the website clicks on a "Google® Ad Sense" ad.

We DO NOT generate revenue every single time a user "hits" Accessmilton.com. One would think the City Attorney and his accusers would have researched these facts prior to their claim, but I digress.

The letter continued about an error in our forum section regarding an Accessmilton.com admin titled "Miltonfirepolice" and confusion that such a title could possibly relay to the public. Point taken and this concern has been amended.

After a response was sent to the City Attorney on our company's behalf, we received yet another letter; this time in email form. It would state: "Tim is serving as a volunteer with the City. He is not just a private citizen. If you had bothered to read the definitions section of the Ethics Ordinance you would see that number 35 under the Appendix of definitions defines "Public Servant" to include the term "volunteer." If Tim wishes to either continue as a volunteer with the City or not be the subject of an ethics complaint, he must immediately comply with the ethics ordinance. Directing people to the Access Milton website to raise funds for the firehouses results in personal gain from the "hits" the site receives. You haven’t disputed this. Tim must cease and desist this practice immediately or he will be removed as a volunteer and the City will terminate all relationships with him." He continues "I must emphasize that no other volunteer with the City has had to be referred to the City Attorney for consideration and that Tim’s actions are causing the City to have to needlessly expend resources on attorney time. Regrettably, I must say that at some point, the City be forced to make a determination about whether the benefit of a volunteer’s services exceed their costs."

If the City Attorney "had bothered" to understand the revenue model of Accessmilton.com, then he would realize that he as well as those who push this claim are incorrect regarding the "hits" attempt. It would also have been wise for the City Attorney to conduct due diligence regarding the false claims of my directing citizens to Accessmilton.com on behalf of the city's official fire and police fund before writing a letter. A claim, as shown above, proven false without much effort. The City Attorney continues stating that my actions are "causing the City to have to needlessly expend resources on attorney time. Regrettably, I must say that at some point, the City be forced to make a determination about whether the benefit of a volunteer’s services exceed their costs." Note that he does not reference the time spent on behalf of those whose brought up these false accusations initially. Note that he does not reference the purchase of the three DVD / VCR players purchased for the Milton Fire & Police departments by myself.

When all was said and done, we requested a meeting with some of the city staff. Much like I have laid out above, I did the same in this instance. The attendees understood my points. Upon exiting, I would ask who it was that brought these accusations against me. While no names were given, I was told that "it was some members on the city council." Imagine that.

In closing, could it be that the tax dollars wasted in pursuit of me might have been better used to help the Milton Fire and Police keep our families safer during an emergency? Could it be that some on the council have once again abused our city staff; this time for political revenge? Could it be that some on the council have few ideas so they choose to attack others out of fear and hollowness? Could it be that there truly are cowards among us? That… is for you to decide.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Crabapple Lawn Care, Inc.

Crabapple Lawn Care, Inc. is dedicated in improving your investment in the landscape. We strive to build strong relationships through superior service and continued advancement in your community. That's why we created the Crabapple Community Benefit Program. This program supports local schools, events, and neighborhoods like yours. It works by contributing a percentage of the total cost of the services we perform back into these organizations to improve the community. Visit our website for more information at -> http://www.crabapplelawncare.com/

Citizen Deputy Program Fosters Community Pride

Volunteers to help with code enforcement, target illegal signs in right-of-way

Are you concerned about the environment, health, safety, property values and general well-being in the City of Milton? If so, you are an ideal candidate to serve as a volunteer “Citizen Deputy.”The city’s Community Development office is launching a Citizen Deputy Program, in which citizens assist city employees with the removal of illegal signage within the right-of-way as well as reporting zoning and other code violations. This effort provides an addition tool to protect the city’s environmental and aesthetic integrity.The program is designed to educate residents about city codes and zoning and involve them in the code enforcement process; and to identify, report and follow-up on violations. In addition to illegal signs, some of the other code violations addressed by Citizen Deputies include:

Dilapidated, fire damaged, open and vacant residential and commercial properties
Illegal car repairs
Junk vehicles
Missing addresses
Parking on grass
Trees
Vacant and overgrown lots

All volunteers will participate in a city-specific training session.“The Citizen Deputy Program will result in cleaner, safer neighborhoods; improved property values; development of lasting relationships with our residents and identification of community resources,” said Community Development Director Tom Wilson.If you are interested in becoming a Citizen Deputy, call 678.242.2500

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Milton Community Meeting Overview / June 11, 2007

- White Columns

The Purpose of the meeting was to encourage the community to rally in opposition to the new proposed Birmingham High School site on Freemanville Road to convince the BOE to choose an alternative site for this new school for the City of Milton. The following site locations were discussed at the meeting: The Old Milton High School location, Birmingham Hwy (south of the Cherokee County Line), and possibly Webb Road and Hwy 9. Information on additional potential sites and land swaps are also being considered at this time which will be discussed if needed at the next meeting.

The goal is to legitimize locations for consideration, then proceed with a meeting with the BOE to present these sites in addition to the signed petition. We would like to have a meeting with FCBOE before the new 2007-2008 school year starts.

At the meeting there was a call for volunteers to head up committees and also requesting emails, letters, and phone calls to the Milton City Council Members, Board of Education, our State Representative, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the EPA.
In addition the community is being encouraged to attend the City Council Meetings and BOE meetings on a regular basis to go on record in opposition to this school site and a committee will be assigned to organize groups to attend these meetings.

Questions and answers were asked after the proposed sites were discussed and some of the questions were directed to Council Member, Bill Lusk who happened to be in attendance.
The consensus is that the community feels the decision to place another High School in Milton in such close proximity to Milton High School is inappropriate for the City of Milton, it’s residents and the City’s Land Use Plan which is in it’s early stages of development. The residents feel a school site should be better planned and placed in our community, and not decided on the sole factor of the criteria of a single land owner willing to sell a large tract of land. The planning should be based on the demographics of the area, projected population growth, and the wants and needs of the City of Milton’s Land Use Plan, the elected City Council Members and the input from the residents. Given the information on population for Milton, it should be relatively easy to plan for schools for our future and not just place another one less than 3 miles down the same road because the land happened to fit only one criterion for planning.

Meetings will continue to occur on a monthly basis and the next meeting is planned for July 16th, Monday night. The time and location have yet to be determined. The community is invited to attend these meetings and encouraged to become highly involved in this issue. The issue of this school being built on this particular site is having a great impact on our Land Use Plan for our City since the City Council, our Planning Commission, our Citizen’s Advisory Committee, and the new Planning Committee have had no opportunity for input whatsoever in the placement of this school for our community. Please attend the meetings and be an involved citizen. We need the support of many, not just a few, to achieve the goal of having a school more appropriately placed for our community needs and our City. Come to our meetings, contact your friends and neighbors and let your voice be heard. Do not count on others to make the difference for you. Join us and do your part. Take the first step by signing and forwarding our petition that is attached below.

Contact: Lisa Cauley – Chairperson, protectmilton@aol.com

Have a "Cup of Joe" with Joe!


Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood invites you to join him for a cup of coffee and an informal chat on the third Tuesday of each month.

If there’s something on your mind, here’s your chance to share it directly with the Mayor.
Mayor’s Coffee Sessions run 9-10 a.m. in the City Council chambers at Milton City Hall, located in Suite 107 of the Deerfield Professional Centre, 13000 Deerfield Parkway.
For information call 678.242.2500

2007 Mayor’s Coffee dates:

June 19
July 17
August 21
September 18
October 16
November 20
December 18

City of Milton Has First Homicide


Man shot at Preserve at Deerfield

By MIKE MORRIS / wwwajc.com / Published on: 06/12/07

Milton police Tuesday morning were investigating the first homicide in the short history of the North Fulton town.

The shooting occurred at the Preserve at Deerfield apartment complex on Webb Road off Deerfield Parkway, about a half-mile from the Forsyth County line.

About 1:30 a.m., Fulton County 911 operators, which handle dispatch duties for Milton, received multiple calls from residents of the 636-unit complex reporting gunshots, said Bill Doughty, communications director for the city.

"At roughly the same time, Forsyth County had received a 911 call from the apparent victim, who said that he had been shot, then the line went dead," Doughty said, adding that the victim had made the call from a cell phone.

Officers searching for the victim discovered broken glass outside a unit in Building 19, and a bullet hole in a window. When they entered the apartment, they found the man lying on the floor, dead of an apparent gunshot, Doughty said.

The victim's name was not immediately released.

Doughty said the shooting was the first homicide since Milton became a city on Dec. 1. The city's 21-officer police force began operation on May 1.

State House Update

Friends and Neighbors-

I listed 30 bills below for your review that have broader interest and significance. Each was passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed by the Governor. I wrote additional notes after the listing of bills.

In a subsequent and final update on the legislative session, I will explain selected legislation introduced this year, but not yet passed or defeated. Each piece of legislation represents a significant or controversial issue. The bills remain alive for 2008; you never know which ones will "get legs" next session.

As always, I value your feedback.

Best-

Jan Jones
State Representative - District 46
(Serving northwest Fulton, including Milton, Roswell, Alpharetta and Mountain Park)

2007 STATE LEGISLATION SIGNED INTO LAW

*Should you want to read the full text for a piece of legislation, go to http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=5w5e4acab.0.nh86l7bab.cjjqc7bab.1766&ts=S0254&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.legis.state.ga.us%2F, click on Legislation and type in the bill number.

HB 2 - Annexation dispute resolution


Requires binding arbitration between a city and a county in an annexation dispute.

HB 24 - Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care; includes form to fill out


Provides for an advance directive for health care, which combines provisions of a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Provides for health care treatment preferences and a physician's responsibilities.

HB 107 - Franchise fee transparency (Authored by Rep. Jan Jones)


Requires utilities disclose and itemize city imposed franchise taxes on customers' bills. Increases transparency of taxes and accountability of local governments. Franchise taxes are passed on to customers 100 percent and range from 3 - 5 percent on electric, natural gas, garbage, wired telephone and cable services. The tax rates and number of services taxed varies by city. Counties are only allowed to levy franchise fees on cable service.

HB 128 - Sales Tax Holidays


- School-related and computer sales tax holiday - August 2-5; save 4 percent on purchases
- Energy efficient products up to $1,500 sales tax holiday - October 4-7; save 4 percent on purchases

(The Governor signed 19 bills providing tax breaks and vetoed another 8.)

HB 131 - Georgia's HERO Scholarships


This bill expands the HERO college scholarship to include surviving spouses of deceased members of the Georgia National Guard and surviving spouses of deceased members of the military reserve.

(This is the only Higher Education bill passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor; another was vetoed. A Higher Education tax-related bill, HB 225, was also signed into law.)

HB 132 - Harbor Pilots


Increases the number of harbor pilots from 17 to 21 in Savannah and from 6 to 8 in Brunswick. As Georgia's economy grows, these ports are becoming busier. The extra pilots will ensure these ports continue to operate smoothly.

HB 147 - Ultrasound Act


Establishes that if an ultrasound is performed prior to an abortion, a woman will be offered the opportunity to view it.

HB 186 - Bio-Fuels sales tax

Provides a sales tax exemption for construction materials for any bio-fuels facility primarily dedicated to producing and processing ethanol, biodiesel, butanol and their byproducts.

HB 214 - Jekyll Island

This bill reaffirms that only 35% of the island shall be developed and that the remaining 65% shall be protected. It extends the life of the authority and leases by 40 years upon their expiration. Creates a joint committee in the General assembly, called the Jekyll Island - State Park Oversight Authority, to advise the General Assembly on the Jekyll Island Authority's compliance.

HB 225 - Higher Education Savings Plan

Expands a state income tax incentive to non-parents (grandparents, for example) and parents making greater than $100,000 filed jointly and $50,000 filed individually for higher education savings up to $2000 per beneficiary/child.

HB 232 - Georgia Development Impact Fee Act

Will require transportation impact fees assessed by cities or counties on new developments to be spent in the area and for the purpose they were levied.

HB 227 - Consumer Choice for Television Act

Allows Georgians more television choice through cable TV providers and video service providers. Increased competition will likely drive down retail prices for consumers.

HB 314 - DNA analysis of sex offenders

Allows the GBI to collect DNA from anyone put on probation for a sex offense on or after July 1, 2007.

HB 369 - Shared parenting

Comprehensive overhaul on how child custody matters are handled in the GA Courts. The bill is a result of a 2006 study committee and extensive input from judges, lawyers, psychologists, parents and children who have gone through the judicial process. Ensures both parents are treated fairly in the court system, and that the focus on any decision is based solely on the best interests of the child. Encourages greater cooperation between parents by requiring they submit parenting plans to the court prior to any contested court hearing and encouraging parents to engage in alternative dispute resolution prior to any hearing.

HB 394 - 911 Emergency fee allocation

Will bring over $300 million to cities and counties around the state for 911 emergency services at no additional cost to taxpayers. The bill requires dollars that were previously not being properly returned to local governments to be returned in the future. A grant fund will allow the poorest counties to provide a higher level of response to emergency calls.

HB 429 - HIV Pregnancy Screening Act

Requires prenatal care physicians to screen pregnant women for HIV unless the woman declines.

HB 463 - State soil and sedimentation requirements

Compromise bill passed overwhelmingly to modify original soil and sedimentation requirements. Clarifies that at least one person meeting education and training requirements will oversee land disturbing activities as representative of the project.

HB 497 - Parental rights

Allows a biological father to terminate parental rights prior to the birth of a child if an adoption plan is in place.

HB 551 - State False Medicaid Claims

Would allow individuals to take action as they become aware of Medicaid fraud or false claims. They would be able to petition the State Attorney General to review their case. The bill is modeled after the Federal False Claims Act. Other states that have passed similar legislation have been able to recoup millions of dollars paid out in fraudulent claims.

SB 5 - Real ID Act

Authorizes the Governor to delay compliance with provisions of the federal REAL ID Act until the Department of Homeland Security expressly guarantees that implementation of the Act will not compromise the economic and biological privacy of Georgia's citizens. Prohibits the Georgia Department of Driver Services from issuing an identification card, license, permit or other official documents to non-citizen applicants unless such applicants have been confirmed through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program to be lawfully present in the U.S.

SB 10 - Georgia Special Needs Scholarship

Authorizes the State Department of Education to administer the "Georgia Special Needs Scholarship" for students with disabilities who attend public schools in Georgia. The legislation allows the parents of students with disabilities to apply for a scholarship equal to the state funding for their child's special education. The parents may use the voucher at a participating private or public school they believe would provide a better education or environment. Local funding will not follow the child. The State Department of Education must approve participating schools and parents must be given the credentials of their child's teachers every year. The student will also be given an annual assessment and the results must be shared with the parents, teachers and Georgia Department of Education. In Florida, a similar voucher program serves 5 percent of children with special needs.

(The Governor signed 9 bills pertaining to K-12 public education; he vetoed two. Two additional education tax-related bills, HB 128 and HB 182, were signed into law)

SB 17 - Medications prescribed by optometrists

This legislation allows optometrists to prescribe certain oral and topical medications to treat conditions and diseases of the eyes. Optometrists using such medications will be held to the same standard of care as physicians who perform similar acts, provided, however, that a doctor of optometry is not authorized to treat systemic diseases.

SB 39 - Charter Systems Act

The Charter Systems Act authorizes the State Board of Education to enter into an agreement, called a charter, with a local board of education to establish a local school system as a charter system. Also creates a statewide advisory board to the State School Board to review independent charter school applications as well as charter school system applications. A charter school or a charter system provides the opportunity for teachers, administrators and parents to have greater flexibility to meet the needs of students. Schools or systems can be more flexible and innovative without having to adhere to "one size fits all" mandates that apply school district wide or statewide.

SB 60 - Georgia Trauma Commission and Trust Fund

Establishes the Georgia Trauma Commission and the Georgia Trauma Trust Fund. The Commission will study the provision of trauma care in Georgia, establish a statewide trauma network, develop a trauma transportation system to provide immediate transport for trauma victims where other options are not available, develop and administer a compensation system for providers of uncompensated trauma care, facilitate trauma education and prevention, and act as the accountability mechanism for the entire Georgia trauma system. The bill comes after an exhaustive 2006 study committee that reviewed the State's trauma care network.

SB 72 - School Administrative Manager; Alternative teaching certificates; Local School Council changes

Provides that a majority of the members of a school council will be composed of parents or guardians of students enrolled in the school with at least two of such parents/guardians being businesspersons. The chairperson of the school council will be a parent member. The original bill authorizes local boards of education to employ school administrative managers, in lieu of or in addition to assistant principals. The school administrative manager must possess a bachelor's degree but will not be required to be certified by the Professional Standards Commission. Provides for another alternative teaching certificate process for individuals possessing a master's degree in the subject he or she will teach.

SB 95 - Minors attempting to purchase cigarettes

Current law prohibits minors from purchasing or possessing cigarettes or tobacco products, and this measure will prohibit minors from attempting to purchase cigarettes or other tobacco products. Violation of this provision will result in up to 20 hours of community service and/or attendance of a lecture regarding the hazards of smoking. Additionally, businesses are prohibited from dispensing any non-tobacco products, other than matches, in vending machines that dispense cigarettes and other tobacco products.

SB 98 - Cellular phones used for exploitation of minors

This bill includes the criminal use of cellular phones or any other electronic device used in furtherance of these crimes: sexual exploitation of children, electronically furnishing obscene material to minors, computer pornography, stalking, or forgery and fraudulent practices that involves the use of a computer; so that providers of cellular and other electronic communications must also comply with disclosure requirements.

SB 123 - Public school class sizes; twins class placement

Beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, each local board of education may establish class sizes not to exceed 32 for core classes in grades 9 through 12. Eliminates system wide averaging among schools for class sizes in grades 9 - 12. Requires class sizes to be reported to local school councils (Rep. Jan Jones amendment). Language from the original bill provides that a school must place twins or other multiples from the same family in the same classroom if the children are in the same grade level and the children's parent or guardian requests the placement if requested within a certain time frame.

SB 148- Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank

Creates the Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank for postnatal tissue and fluid, provides for donations and information concerning donations, creates the Georgia Commission for Saving the Cure, and authorizes taxpayers to make certain contributions through the income tax payment and refund process.

SB 194 - Election changes

The bill changes Georgia's date for the presidential preference primary to the first Tuesday in February of the year of a presidential election (this primary is currently held on the first Tuesday in March). Will give Georgia a more influential role in deciding the party nominees for president. Numerous other states have also moved their presidential primaries up to February 5th. It also revises Georgia law on absentee ballots and runoff elections.

Additional notes:

By state law, the Governor had 40 days after session ended on April 20 to veto, sign or allow a bill to become law without his signature (Governor Perdue makes it a practice to decisively sign or veto bills only). The Assembly passed 208 statewide and 187 local bills.

Governor Perdue vetoed a total of 41 bills on May 30, (33 General; 8 Local), the highest number of vetoes since he took office in 2003. Representative or Senate sponsors for 5 local bills requested vetoes due to changed circumstances; a number of other bills had technical flaws. The Governor exercised numerous line item vetoes in the 2008 state budget bill, HB 95.

Other initiatives appear in the 2008 budget bill rather than legislation. For example, the budget will fund the Governor's initiative, Graduation Coaches, in public middle schools. The coaches will focus on assisting students at-risk of not graduating on time or dropping out. The program has already significantly improved high school students' progress towards graduation just one year after implementation.

Jan Jones

Monday, June 11, 2007

Protect Milton To Meet Monday Evening

The Protect Milton Community Group will be holding a meeting regarding the opposition to the new FCBOE proposed Birmingham Highschool on Freemanville Road, tonight, Monday, June 11th at 7:00 p.m at White Columns Golf and Country Club in the Veranda Room.

How To Survive This Drought!

Experts tells how best to exploit water days
By Keri Smith / www.ajc.com / Published on: 06/10/07

As the metro Atlanta drought worsens, restrictions are tight in the northern suburbs, and they could get tighter. So what's the best way to use water on the days you're allowed to water?
AJC Northside posed that question to Luca Gianturco, owner of Scottsdale Farms Landscape Co. & Nursery in Alpharetta.

One surprise: Established lawns only need to be watered once a week, if you do it right. Here are some tips.

Deep watering

•The bigger the roots are, the better the grass is. Try to get an inch of water on the grass per week.

Water measurement

•Take tuna fish cans, which are about an inch deep, and place them randomly around the yard. Set your irrigation timer to see how long it takes to fill the can, then you'll know how long to set your irrigation timer next time. If you don't have an irrigation timer, you can still use the can trick. Just set your sprinkler up at different spots in the yard. The amount of time it will take depends on the design of the irrigation system.

Lawns

•Established lawns prefer to have a deep watering about once a week. It is much more beneficial than shallow watering done often.

Shrubbery and Flowers

• Again, water as deep as you can and try to get the soil moistened about 6 inches deep per plant. Top the soil with a 2-inch layer of mulch to help keep the roots cool and retain moisture.

Friday, June 08, 2007

World Class Craftsman Calls Milton Home

Woodworker Howard Cutter featured on DIY, CNN

by Jason Wright / www.northfulton.com / Appen Newspapers
June 05, 2007

This day in Howard Cutter's, big, beautifully appointed workshop at his home on Bethany Road, the bluegrass music is loud.That's because the master craftsman is working hard on his new project, a completely handmade table with legs constructed from four separate sections. And when he's in the shop, the bluegrass is playing.

"I just love the sound of the acoustic guitar," he said, tapping his foot to the plodding bass line.He's happy among the sawdust, and you can tell it. Cutter spends most days in his shop, home of his business, Fine Woodworking of Alpharetta, handcrafting beautiful, intricate furniture, religious ornaments and other original pieces of art.It's a life he picked for himself. A Buckhead native who moved to Connecticut to work for IBM, he retired to Alpharetta in 1993 after 37 years with the company.One of his great dreams was to build the perfect workspace, one much roomier than the cramped basement he labored in at his home in Norfolk, Conn."It was a little bit of a splurge," he said, referring to the 1,000-square-foot shop that's attached to a barn on his 8-acre property. "Maybe it's overcompensating for that basement."Overcompensation it may, but with fine results.
Cutter's crafts and workshop have landed him on CNN for a segment entitled "Life After Work" about people who choose second careers in retirement, and on the DIY (Do It Yourself) Network. His shop served as the set for DIY's "My Ultimate Workshop" special.Cutter said he got his start woodworking taking weekend classes in Connecticut. In fact, he still has his very first project, a dovetailed box. It was that simple feat of craftsmanship that saw him through today."I thought, 'That's what I want to do when I can do whatever I want to do,'" he said.From there he was hooked. After creating furniture for his home and his own workbench, Cutter's next big step came when he entered a rocking chair, a three-year project, into the Atlanta Woodworking Show. He took home first place."I thought, 'OK, this is easy,'" he said. "It gives you kind of a big head, but then people want to see more original work."
Roswell resident Beth King is one of the people who asked Cutter for more original work. Fellow parishioners at Roswell's St. David's Episcopal Church, King commissioned the master craftsman to create two items for the church: a Verge, or Episcopalian processional stick, and a box for Eucharist pieces."If you need a special piece, Howard is the first name you think of," she said. "Everything is done with such skilled craftsmanship.
His heart and soul are so evident in every piece."King said the most amazing thing about Cutter's work is his ability to create pieces that are both practical and beautiful."There is just love, care and spirituality in what he does," she said. "Sacredness runs through the entire creation."And though his pieces are always one of a kind because "making the same things over and over kills" him, it's the word of mouth from people like King that have made Cutter's business such a success."It's a modest business," said Cutter, "but it keeps me off the streets."