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The Planning Commission Meeting last night at which we presented our Petition for Re-Zoning for the Dinsmore Commons was disappointing in some ways. The good parts were that he meeting was well run and the commissioners seemed to be interested in doing the right thing for Milton, and that we got two votes in our favor that were concerned with just our plan. The disappointing part was that the actual process of approvals or denials has been hijacked by the issue of whether the policy of capping commercial growth in Crabapple is indeed the law, or whether there is reason to believe that the Comprehensive Land Use Plan is law and the Cap is just the policy of this City Council.
Our plan complies with, or exceeds to the benefit of, every planning principle used by the City of Milton for land use planning. We never really were heard on our plan because of Cap policy you have said you have in place. The only case heard on this issue last month was denied for that policy reason, but it should have been denied because it was a bad plan. I have been told by every planner and attorney involved in land use work in the City of Milton and in Fulton County that I have spoken with that the Cap is a Node recommendation of the Fulton County Comprehensive Plan from market recommendations of 5 years ago with a specific nod to the Crabapple Crossroads Plan that has been adopted as policy by the City Council and that it is not law.
Is that right? Is the policy law or not? What legal authority do you have for that position? Are you prepared to tell the families and property owners in the center of the Crabapple Crossroads Land Use Plan that their property has no value other than as a family residence? Are you prepared for a coalition of those same folks to challenge your policy on a legal basis as a taking of their properties? Are you prepared to tell Mr. Dinsmore that his property is worth $1,000,000 less than what he has a contracted to sell it? That sounds like real damages to me. He has depended on your legally adopted Land Use Plan to sell his land, has turned down lesser offers over the last 3 years, and could lose his current sales contract solely due to your public policy grounded on the basis that it is better for Crabapple. There is already an approved development for more than 20,000 s.f. of commercial property outside of our from the core on our side of town. We will not stick out. We will fit in, and do it right.
The questions of the planning commission in regard to our plan were almost exclusively centered on whether if they approved our very good and well thought out plan that they would have to accept others with similar plans in the Crabapple Mixed Use designation. Respectfully, that is exactly why the Land Use Plan was made and legally adopted. So that the Crabapple Crossroads could be the community center with mixed uses and greater density graduating quickly towards full rural lifestyle properties. Fulton County planned it, sold off all the easy commercial spots to those with money, and left you to deal with what was left. Nothing. It sounds to me as if your plan has no value, and it has been shown that your process of applications to fulfill that plan has no value. Your policy leaves the property owners in that downtown crossroads area with little choice but to sue the City that they helped to create to garner the value of the plan they helped you put together and supported your council positions in order to get.
I am at a loss as to how to proceed to get your attention for this matter. Your policy of capping commercial development because of a Node designation for market conditions present 5 years ago before Milton was even a city has put us at cross purposes. I will present my plan for the development of Dinsmore Commons that, according to the collaborative efforts of architects, city staff, engineers and land use planners involved, fits exactly with the Land Use Plan and character of the community.
If you accept our plan and allow the re-zoning as requested we will be grateful and happy to bring to the community a development of which they can be proud. If you deny our petition, we will re-group, consult with the many neighbors in similar positions, and begin again. We will at least have made you say to the community at large that your policy that does not fit the plan and is fundamentally unfair in the manner in which it was executed is the way the city intends to act towards all reasonable development in the Crabapple core. That, I believe, gives any property owner so affected legal standing for action.
Don't you want a healthy village mix of uses in the Crabapple core? Don't you want a greater tax base for support of community values and infrastructure? Don't you want a better traffic plan? Don't you want sidewalks that folks can walk on and trails that they can visit their neighbors from? Can you say that you are putting the community first? Ask the folks living in Crabapple. Ask the people that are depending on you to live up to the legally adopted Land Use Plan for Crabapple Crossroads.
Jay Davis / firstname.lastname@example.org