Courtesy Appen Newspapers
MILTON, Ga. - Milton has begun the process of remaking the Crabapple area into more of a town center than a traffic headache.
The city has hired Lew Oliver and his company, Whole Town Solutions, to create plans and ideas for how to redesign that area around the intersection of Crabapple Road and Birmingham Highway.
Oliver held a brief summary meeting on March 14 for the public to see how he intends to approach the challenge and to make clear that not everyone will be happy with his eventual suggestions.
One such suggestion is higher density.
Oliver is a proponent of "new-urbanism." That is, using a combination of high-density housing, decorative streetscapes and small retail or offices to create a very mixed-use environment in a small area. One such example could be Atlantic Station downtown.
However, Milton has stood by its one-house-per-acre motto for several years now, which has led to many new developments being built. Oliver pointed out that a lot of developers do not use their land wisely and, with 6,000 acres open in Milton, it could mean at least that many people could be added to the population in the next generation. Oliver suggested a solution to allow higher density in areas where it makes sense, in exchange for developers leaving other areas empty.
For instance, historic downtown Charleston, S.C. has a density of five units per acre. However, few would argue Charleston is undesirable. Savannah is similar, which feeds to Oliver's point that it's not the density that makes it undesirable, it's the management and use of the area to promote more walking and less focus on roads.
Resident Jack Burns, who lives in the Crabapple Station townhomes, said that while he likes what he's heard so far about future plans, he's cautious about mixed-use. His neighborhood was designed to be mixed-use, with the residents within easy walking distance of the shops on Crabapple Road.
Burns said that while it's convenient to be able to walk to a restaurant whenever he feels like it, that path goes both ways.
"I was getting my mail and nearly tripped over someone's food they threw away," he said. Parking and patrons of the nearby restaurants often impede on the lives of the residents, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Dog handlers use the nearby dog park, despite it being private property for the residents.
Crabapple Station was made to allow people to move around easily and safely, but because there is no dividing line between those who live there and those who are visiting, it can create tension.
Of major interest in Oliver's suggestions will be a possible city hall for Milton. Currently, the city rents office space on Deerfield Parkway. For many residents, if Crabapple were to be a town center, it would be the perfect location for a new city hall.
Oliver provided sketches of his preliminary suggestions for the public on Monday after deadline, and reaction will be in next week's issue of the Milton Herald.