Monday, October 29, 2007

Letters To The Editor.

Milton Elections

November 6, it is time to vote again for Milton City Council. Experience has shown this is usually a meaningless endeavor. There are rarely any life affecting issues to consider, and even when there are, there is no telling where a politician stands. Words and actions, especially in the political realm, quite often don’t reflect one another. But, this election is different. It has great importance to its residents and it is relatively easy to figure where the individual parties stand on the most important issue.
The city of Milton has become a beautiful residential community. Nice small homes and spacious mansions, on nice pieces of land, line the roads. Horses, cattle, and other farm animals can be found dotting the countryside. Even the wildlife still has a place to call its own. Pleasant two lane roads course over hills, past fields and through forests of trees, reminiscent of a trip to Grandmother’s house. Even the traffic can be called pleasant compared to the rest of metro Atlanta. It could be lots worse. All in all it is a wonderful rural community, with minimal development, this in itself is the problem. The fact that it is rural with minimal development, makes Milton the developers dream. There is money to be made and why not maximized profits.
Milton is the fertile crescent for developers. People want to be here and there is land to build on, so let’s build. Why just one family on that plot, can’t make money that way, let’s try for four. Don’t forget the potential for business development that pays even more. How could the residents of such a fine city survive without two or three gas stations and 10 or 12 fast food establishments in their backyard? The developers are salivating. They are not about making a place more beautiful. They are about making the most money and moving on. Until now, they have been held just out of arms reach, by a number of concerned residents and politicians, but it’s election time again and another chance to change the rules that control their lust.
To this point, Milton’s growth has been controlled by a land use plan that establishes guidelines for its development. This plan controls growth by assigning areas that can be zoned in certain ways, as well as controlling density where there is no sewer. Zoning has limited value. Zoning can be changed, it can go from residential to commercial as fast as you can say “my cousin wants to build a Zippy Mart.” Or it can go up from a low density residential to a high density residential zoning as fast as you can say, “how can I make any money developing at one unit per acre?” We have all lived in areas controlled by zoning alone and too often we have seen how that falls short. No sewer has a set defined limit to what and how much can be built on an acre. As long as there is no compromise on the sewer issue there will always be a throttle on development. Once an exception to the sewer issue is made, the legal system can force the issue elsewhere. This election is simple, it is about absolutely no sewer or sewer, that is to say low density development or higher density development respectively. Reading between the lines one can find where the candidates stand on development and sewer, and perhaps pick the one that best reflects the individual’s desires.
With all the slanderous mud slinging, baby kissing and rhetoric, how can you find the candidate to reflect your views? One could ask each candidate where they stand, but some will tell you what you want to hear and others will dance around the issue, still others will tell the truth. In most situations you would be left to guess blindly to find the right candidate probably guided by who has the most signs along the roadways, but this election has hints, if you read between the lines. So if you want either heavier development or controlled growth, it’s not about taxes, roads or other issues, it is about sewers, and which candidates are most likely to bend on the sewer issue. Keeping in mind, any weakness on the sewer stance may be enough to affect the direction of development.
Conveniently it seems the candidates have aligned themselves on teams. Driving across Milton, the Mohrig, O’Brien, and Santi signs can be found together in a nice little threesome not unusually next to for sale signs, or in front of construction sites. O’Brien has openly endorsed Santi by his attendance to Santi’s fund-raiser at a local developer’s house. Santi, Mohrig, and O’Brien have received backing from a number of developers, while Santi has even taken support from The Atlanta Board of Realtors, and even a private sewer company called Innovative Water Solutions. Groups like these developers, Realtors, and sewer companies, are not likely to give support unless they expect something in return. Candidates don’t have to accept contributions and backing from any organization or person unless they choose to. But in choosing to it reflects the views of that candidate. If these candidates had accepted support from a prominent neo-Nazi, or the KKK, it would say something about them, just as accepting support from developers, sewer companies, and Realtors says something. Maybe these candidates have their own definition of controlled growth and no sewer and they don’t owe their supporters and contributors anything, you read between the lines.
The threesome’s opponent is a triumvirate of Zahner Bailey, Hewitt and Tart. Julie Zahner Bailey was an activist fighting development long before she took the fight to her post on the City Council. She has been so effective in her fight against uncontrolled development that developers have openly cursed her name in the local paper. She has a proven stance against sewer or any variance from the land use plan. One needs only to look at her record of voting from her first year in the council to see where her true feelings lie. It’s very likely even her critics would agree she would never give in on the issues of sewer and uncontrolled growth. Hewitt and Tart are unknown quantities. They have laid claim to no sewer and controlled growth but what candidate hasn’t. Perhaps the best indicator of their stance on growth and sewer is the lack of support from the development community, and the fact they can claim no sewer company has given them the thumbs up. Hewitt and Tart appear to share the same attitudes toward development or at least the same backers, as their signs can often be seen together on the lawns of city residents.
This election is not about taxes, impact fees, traffic, sexual orientation, bogus ethics charges filed by developers, false accusations about some not lost money, none of these things. It is about development and therefore sewer. If your desires as a citizen of Milton are to maintain a rural community with lovely lands, two lane roads, tolerable traffic and farm animals, then sewer cannot be allowed in Milton and growth must be controlled Your votes should go for Zahner Bailey, Hewitt and Tart. If you are a developer, involved in building, own a sewer company or have lots of land for sell, then reading between the lines, O’Brien, Mohrig, and Santi are most likely for you. This is an important election and sewer is the issue. There are no other issues. All else is mundane. For once you don’t have to throw darts in the dark to find your candidate, if you read between the lines, you can find who is most likely to control growth or maximize your profit.
- David Shepherd


Anonymous said...

Mr. Shepard, no one could have said it better than you just have in this letter. You are right on! I hope the residents of Milton pay close attention to what you've said.

Those who live in subdivisions have EVERYTHING to lose and absolutely nothing to gain by voting for the developers dream candidates which are considered the Opposition (Santi/O'Brien/Mohrig).

Those who have land for sale also lose nothing by voting for the People's candidates (Bailey/Hewitt/Tart) as the land value remains the same regardless what the Opposition tells you. Landowners, don't be fooled by them. Our land is valuable because Milton's landscape looks like does now.

But it could all change on November 6th. Someone said it well earlier on this blog. "The Developers are looking at Milton like a Lion looks at the Serangetti".

This election really is our last chance to keep Milton rural and save the open space and horse farms - and our quality of life. Or, we all lose our home values, our pastures, the animals - and our peace of mind.

Vote for Bailey, Hewitt and Tart on November 6th!

-Patti Silva

Anonymous said...

Ask Roy Mickler [a veteran of WW II and Korea] what Julie did to his home.

She TOOK IT without his knowledge or consent and made his home "historic' even though it wasn't.

Sewer is an issue sure, but politicians taking your property for their cause[s] is a whole lot more freightening than sewer.

Anonymous said...

How do we get in touch with Roy Mickler?

Would like to hear his version.

Anonymous said...

Per the Georgia Register of Historic Places, there are no such locations currently in the City of Milton...

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be impossible for Julie to do this without another's involvement. She's passionate about preservation but I have a hard time believing that she alone could have taken someone's home away from them as the anonymous one states above. Why is this person afraid to post his name anyway? Makes me wonder....

All of the UGLINESS that the opposition keeps showing in this election makes me mad as you know what. I'm threw with this back and forth game of theirs. Enough of the negative vibes already...

I pray that the voters of Milton are more intelligent than them and vote for a POSITIVE future for our Community.

That will surely happen with a vote for Bailey, Hewitt and Tart.

-Patti S.

Anonymous said...

I don't know which side is more negative. There is nothing positive about either side.

Both are just ugly. For those that espouse a holier than thou attitude, I am sorry to say that I think you are looking at things with rose colored glasses.

Is Julie perfect fro Milton? No. Does she help protect many of the things that we want, yes she does. Does she walk on water Nope she does not.

Santi is not back 100% by developers either. Is he perfect fro Milton, nope. He is not. Are both bad, no of course not, but to try and make one seem perfect compared to the other is just flat out wrong.

The personal attacks and wild accusations lead me to think that maybe we should have a write-in candidate and forget both of them.

We might be better off.

Anonymous said...

When the Baptist Church bought the old school on B'ham Hwy. Julie fought them to not tear it down and use their own property for a church.

The demolition permit was finally issued late on a Friday afternoon to allow the church to begin their building.

Crabapple Baptist church folks need to know how she treated them.

Nobody needs to make up Land use nightmares concerning Ms. Bailey.

They are everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think all of those old junk houses were moved around on the SW coner of Birmingham and Birmingham? She along with her posse forced them in the overlay/masterplan as "Historic."

Good old historic asbestos siding houses. Yep, We got to preserve them as empty monuments to planning stupidity a la you know who.

You shouldn't be scared of her planning ideas, you should be petrified.

Anonymous said...

You'd think Mrs. Bailey was making all the decisions on city council or we were still under the one county commissioner form of government.

Afraid, petrified, scared or whatever...never seen sooo many wussies in this town.

It scares me and I aint scared of nothing.

Anonymous said...

Business owners would never tell you or take sides politically [becuase they might loose someones patronage] But, If Ms. Bailey had her way, there would be no Publix, Little River Animal Hospital, Scotsdale Farms, The Manor,Crabapple Baptist Church, etc, etc,etc

The reason this race is so divided is because for over a decade she has fought EVERY change in the area. That's why business is lined up againist her.

It's not business vs. preservation. It's planned responsible growth vs. STOP all change.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who believe the upcoming land use planning will become the Milton Magna Carta, I would like to point out, "The only thing constant is change"

Think please, Dred Scott v Sanford, Brown v Board of Education, Roe v Wade.

Then tell me when don't need some change occassionally.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where Mr. Mickler is now.

But if you missed him standing with his son with tears in his eyes asking the crowd [at the meeting in Crabapple years ago] How he could fight for his country in two wars and not sell his home [because Julie et al had designated it "historic" in the master plan/overlay.]

You missed an opportunity to understand why passions run so deep againist Ms. Zahner Bailey.

Anonymous said...

"Per the Georgia Register of Historic Places, there are no such locations currently in the City of Milton..."

No one said "Georgia Register of Historic Places, it was local insanity.

Anonymous said...

According to Fulton County records, Parcel I.D. 22-4060-037-9-017-0, .892 acres, owned by Roy and Louise Mickler, was sold on May 19, 2004 for $474,827 – that’s right almost ½ million dollars! This is a handsome sum for less than one acre -- hardly a taking! It was remodeled as office space and as part of the Birmingham Master Plan. The developer got additional density for using the existing structure for his development. Sounds like the Micklers, the developer and the community won on this one. Thank you, Julie Zahner Bailey for your extraordinary efforts to create the Birmingham Master Plan that allowed this win-win situation!

Anonymous said...

No NO, Neal O'Brien, or "RJ" as he is affectionately refered to, did it when he froze taxes and set up the parks thing.

Anonymous said...

That is a nice sum of money for a building that was practically on top of the road and in poor condition...I certainly wouldn't be complaining...

Anonymous said...

Factual, Historic, Sophistry at it best "Spin Doctor."

Indivually, without the other corners, he lost complete ownership/control of his property for 8+ years.

Did the developer average land prices? Of course.

If you think Julie made a win-win, you are sadly mistaken.

AND I will bet you Mr. Mickler would agree with me.

She put her neighbor through HELL for years.

In the end he finally came out because of the Publix developer averaging land prices and built the "Now Vacant" Birmingham Village
[who Julie fought and now claims she designed]

Ergo, she fought the thing that EVENTUALLY made it work out for Mr. Mickler

But, "nice try" on the spin thing. Next time get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

Dear learned "Spin Doctor",

Now please "splain" to me how she didn't bankrupt the Birmingham Civic Asso. by hiring planners, she couldn't pay for the overlay/masterplan.
[That Fulton County tax payers had to eventually pay for]

I'd love to hear this one.

Come-on educate me, learned one.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to those who disagree,

The Community got an Overlay and a Master Plan that is so will never be completed, because no one is going to build houses next to a substation.

The Developer got forced into agreeing to build a development that is only partially completed,has high vacancies, and will not retain tenants.

And the Mickler's, wisely, got the Hell out of Dodge.

Maybe when the overgrown empty corner and the vacant buildings have a shooting someone will see, it wasn't a win-win, It was a loose-loose.

The Birmingham Cross Roads stands as a colossal shrine, Milton's Taj Mahal of how ingoring basic, proven, economics principles do not work.

Thank you Julie for taking the SE corner out of the commercial tax base, it is so attractive we should make a park out of it in your honor.

Anonymous said...

Re:the comment that if Julie Zahner Bailey had her way there would be no Publix:

Wake up. It's there BECAUSE she (and the Birmingham Hopewell Alliance) had their way. Otherwise, it would have been five times bigger -- as the developers wanted.

Anonymous said...

To anyone who believes a master plan will keep the developers from ruining Milton, take a walk through Crabapple.

Part of it is jammed, random and ugly. Part of it is a waste land.. And it, too, had a master plan.

It also has plenty of vacancies. Construction on houses has virtually stopped and we're seeing adds knocking $50,000 off the price.

Were it not for Bailey, it would be the same at Birmingham.

The economy will rebound, and Birmingham will get tenants. Crabapple is ugly forever.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What kind of CPA doesn't understand conservation use as a tax benefit? The kind who plans to help his buddies clear cut and put up apartments. Bye! Bye! Green space and parks!

Anonymous said...

What can you expect from a CPA who voted to WIPE OUT a Wildlife Management Area and put up a city? What's good for Cherokee is good for Milton, right?