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Monday, January 05, 2009

Milton Mayor Asks For Another Vote on Zoning Decision

By DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday, January 02, 2009

Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood wants a do-over on a recent zoning decision made while two City Council members and the city attorney were absent.On Monday, Lockwood is going to ask that the council reconsider on Jan. 15 an 18,000-square-foot project on Ga. 9 — this time with everybody present.

“We want to preserve Milton and keep it like it is, but this was in an existing commercial area,” Lockwood said. “With these tough economic times, with potential cutbacks on services and revenue down and not being able to raise taxes, I think it’s important that we do let development occur where development is allowed.”

The seven-member council tends to be divided into two factions, most prominently on development issues. One faction, the majority of four, is considered pro-development by its critics, not a positive appellation in a community wary of growth. The three-member faction has been described by critics as anti-development, also not a compliment in a city struggling to pay its bills.On Dec. 15, the tables were turned as two members of the majority were gone, and the minority held sway.Realtor Larry Singleton sought a rezoning that would allow him to expand a proposed high-end decoration and furniture shop on Ga. 9 from 18,000 square feet to 28,000 square feet.

Milton’s city planning staff had signed off on it, and the Planning Commission had blessed it as well.But the proposal met trouble when it reached the City Council, which approved the plan 3-2, but imposed several conditions. The council rejected the increase in size, demanded more trees be planted to replace ones that would be cut down and banned a long list of potential uses for the property.The project’s supporters felt the changes weren’t fair, so they ended up voting against the proposal.

City Council member Tina D’Aversa supported the changes, but said in the interest of fairness, she wouldn’t fight a re-hearing. “I don’t think they thought through their site plan,” she said. “I don’t think they were prepared to appear before the City Council. They should have asked for a deferral.”

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