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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Council hears preservation law, discusses powers.

Historic sites in dispute.

Courtesy Jonathan Copsey; The Milton Herald

MILTON, Ga. — Milton City Council members heard the newest iteration of the historic preservation ordinance at their April 16 work session.

This is the third time it has appeared before council for approval to then be submitted to the state for final approval. It would create a Historic Preservation Commission, which would be in charge of identifying and preserving historic properties and buildings within the city.

The state has certain language and powers they expect in the ordinance and Milton has fought that to tailor an ordinance more suited to its local wishes.

"I would hate to go back to the state again," said Council member Karen Thurman. "We've got input back from the state before. How many times do we go back to them before they say no?"

At issue was language required by the state that does not require any actions by the mayor and council on matters regarding historic preservation, including purchasing and renovating sites.

"This is closest to state ordinance and we are very close," said City Attorney Ken Jarrard. "We don't want to have another ordinance we adopt that doesn't pass muster."

The Planning Commission members felt such decisions are best left to the elected leaders, not an appointed commission.

"You don't want to just pass an ordinance like that and give the Historic Preservation Commission powers that were unintended," said Council member Joe Longoria.

Jarrard agreed.

"This could set an unfortunate precedent," he said. "What other committees could get that power?"

Without a law on the books that agrees with the state laws, the city and the commission cannot get grant funding and unique financing related to historical preservation. Jarrard also added that it may put the city on shaky legal footing should there ever be a challenge to the ordinance.

"The Planning Commission felt that was less important than that Milton be true to Milton," Jarrard said. "Ultimately you [city council] are the elected body of Milton and what you want is what staff will prepare."

Council member Bill Lusk said that on this particular ordinance, they're going to continue to lose these historic properties if they don't enact some legislation to deal with this process.

"Let's move forward with this," Lusk said.

Lusk said the only money the Historical Preservation Commission would have to exercise these wide powers would be money the council approves, so ultimately there are checks to the system.

If approved at their next council meeting, the ordinance would go to the state for review.

Also at the meeting:

New population, new laws

MILTON, Ga. — Because of Milton's new census population, it is now designated as a "municipal corporation" and new laws will take effect July 1 that are triggered by its population size.

According to City Attorney Ken Jarrard at council's April 16 work session, many of the laws are "mundane and in the weeds."

He said the city courts will get expanded jurisdiction. Sunday sales will be allowed between 11:50 p.m. on Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday, and new fire safety requirements and expanded delivery of services are all among the population statues.

Ga. 9 plan presented

MILTON, Ga. — Final recommendations were presented for the Milton-Alpharetta Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan to revitalize and beautify Ga. 9 from Mayfield Road up to Bethany Bend.

"We met with the Atlanta Regional Commission, GDOT and MARTA for additional feedback and they love the plan," said City Planner Michelle MacIntosh-Ross. "So we're pretty much moving forward with that."

The LCI study was started August 2011 and held several workshops and planning sessions open to the public about what the streetscape should look like.

The study will be used as a five-year template to mark progress whenever the city seeks funding from the state for projects.

"Any time you go to the ARC for funds or initiatives, they will refer to what you have accomplished, what were the projects that may need initiatives and if you have fulfilled any of the opportunities," said Eric Bosman, of consultants Urban Collage.

Total project costs are expected to be about $150 million for the length of the project.

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