by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers
January 06, 2009MILTON - By a 3-2 vote Dec. 15, City Council OK'd a rezoning for a home fashion business on Ga. 9 - after lopping off a third of the square footage for which the applicant was asking. The business, which is to be located on a 2.26 acre lot fronting Ga. 9, was planned for 28,260 square feet of space.It was previously zoned through Fulton County for a little less than 19,000 square feet - the number with which the majority of council felt comfortable.
The business' owner, a Milton resident, currently runs the operation in Alpharetta but is looking to relocate the two miles into Milton to have a new facility. Eighty five percent of the development was for the home fashion center, and the other 15 percent - 5,000 to 6,000 square feet - was for other complimentary businesses. However, because of concerns the density was too high, that the lot's trees would be harmed by that density and that tree recompense would not do enough to shield the property, council members Julie Zahner Bailey, Tina D'Aversa and Alan Tart voted to decrease the size of the project.
Both staff and planning commission had recommended approval of the project, but members of the design review board member noted the density was too much."I'm struck by the comments [of the design review board]," said Zahner Bailey. "This level of density, if allowed to be built at that density, would effectively remove the ability of any trees to remain. I'd be remiss if I didn't say to this body that I'd be concerned with 28,000 square feet. To go up by 10,000 square feet is excessive."She added she felt such a move would be inconsistent with the board's policies along Ga. 9.
D'Aversa said it was "a problem for Milton" and "myself personally" to establish a Ga. 9 Design Review Board to help streamline the development along the state route while at the same time approving a higher density project.With less density and more trees, she said, "It would look more like what ... I'm confident the committee is going to bring forward to us. I'd hate for us to go ahead and rezone properties that are going to be designed differently when six months from now we're going to have design guidelines that are so much different."
Mayor Joe Lockwood said he did not feel it was a wise move to make decisions based on guidelines that could change in the future.Historically Zahner Bailey, Tart and D'Aversa, which generally take a harder line approach against development in the city, have been outvoted by the more centrist voting block of Lockwood, Karen Thurman, Burt Hewitt and Bill Lusk. This time, however, Lusk and Thurman did not attend the meeting.
Zahner Bailey put forth the motion to approve the site for the original Fulton County density and save specimen trees while also adding trees on site for recompense.She also asked for four board equestrian fencing to be used on the property.Lockwood said he couldn't support changing "in the last 15 or 20 minutes" a citizen-owned project that had been approved in all levels of Milton's zoning structure. Hewitt agreed."I respect everybody's concerns, but we just changed this applicant's whole use of the property," he said.