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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Council Oks Office Condos On Webb Road

by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers

March 20, 2009

In its one zoning case March 16, Milton's City Council followed staff's recommendation and approved 4-2 a site plan for office buildings on Webb Road with two variances.It was those two variances that split the vote, with Alan Tart and Julie Zahner Bailey voicing concerns — also aired that night by citizens in public comment — that letting a business at Webb Road and Ga. 9 reduce certain setbacks by 10 and 15 feet, respectively, was a detriment to the area.

The crux of the case for developer Ken Morton who owns the land was that the site was narrowed after government planners found a stream on site. That required buffers which affected the amount of buildable land. Though the land had been zoned for office use in 2005, multiple plans had to be worked up because of the buffers."The financial impact to our family was significant," he said.

Add in the site's topography, said Morton, and the variances to reduce a side yard setback by 10 feet and rear setback by 15 feet were necessary to ensure office condos with adequate parking and an usable entrance.Otherwise, he said, the condos would be "unsellable and not worth building."Staff concurred, and said it would constitute a hardship, in their opinion, if he was not allowed to build.

The adjacent property owners all supported the variances, as well — both of which were virtually invisible unless one were standing at the back of the building."Our hardships are not self imposed, he told council. "We've tried to make your decision easy."

Citizens who opposed the site disagreed. They said Morton, who had taken about a half acre of land from the site in question and added it to an adjacent property for a self-storage unit project, created his own problems on the site."I'm having trouble making the math work," said John Bratten.He and others insisted it is far better for the city if development is held within the guidelines already established — thus, no variances, even if the effects couldn't be seen by a vast majority of Milton's citizens.Tart agreed, asking what the difference to the site would be if that half acre were added back in.Morton said it didn't matter, as the issue was finding space for a driveway away from the half acre.

Zahner Bailey took a slightly different route, arguing the density was too great for the site — though Morton had technically decreased the overall project density to fit in the buildings."I don't think we can look at this from a straight density per foot viewpoint," she said. "It's density per buildable acre."A motion by Tart to approve the plan but deny the variances failed 2-4, with only Zahner Bailey supporting.Almost immediately, Council-woman Karen Thurman moved that council approve the plan with staff's recommendations. It passed with no discussion.

After the vote, Mayor Joe Lockwood said the vote passed with little fanfare from the majority because it was reasonable."He was asking for a 10-foot buffer that backed up to a retaining wall," he said. "All the neighbors had signed off."I'm all for the preservation of Milton, but we have to be reasonable — and that means keeping commercial development where its zoned and keeping low density residential in the rest of the city so as not to burden the residential tax base."

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the city is headed in a reasonable direction. What's up with the Tart guy?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the majority for showing some common sense when others continue to fail at doing so.

Anonymous said...

They are showing some leadership, not activism.

Anonymous said...

Ken Morton must have dated either Tart or Bailey at one time, and it must have gotten ugly, based on their actions toward him and his family.

Anonymous said...

That is real nice, how about getting serious here!

Anonymous said...

Hey, someone has to test Mr. Morton's meat, so I am sure eith of those two could do it.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked at what some of you do in your spare time. Cant you be serious about some things?

Anonymous said...

Does ken Morton's family know that he may have dated Alan Tart in the past?

Anonymous said...

After being married to Julie for so many years, it would not suprise me if she did date Ken. She was quite the vixon back in the days before pancake makeup.

Anonymous said...

Hey, why don't you run for council and we can dissect every part of your life, too. Whatsa matter? No guts? Or, you'd have to crawl out from under your safe, comfy rock?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you got it.

Anonymous said...

Just think about how many trees we could save if she didnt wear quite so much make-up?

Anonymous said...

Make-up critics should move to the Revlon blog.

Anonymous said...

What does make-up and city council have to do with each other?