Tuesday, September 30, 2008

News From Alan Tart; Council Member of District 6 / Milton Georgia

ALERT: 911 Change for City of Milton Residents May Require Action on Your Part

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

The City of Milton will transition its Emergency 911 and Public Safety Dispatching from the Fulton County Emergency Dispatch Center and Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to the City of Alpharetta Emergency Dispatch Center and PSAP tomorrow, October 1. All wired phones or "land lines" have been changed through a programming process. Citizens that have these phones will NOT need to take any action. It is important to note that citizens who have VOIP (voice over internet protocol) service may need to take action. It is the responsibility of those users to notify their service provider and tell them of the change. The information for the Alpharetta Public Safety E911 Dispatch Center and PSAP is as follows:

City of Alpharetta Dispatch Center
2565 Old Milton Parkway
Alpharetta, Georgia 30004
(678) 297-6300
Milton's Public Safety Department has been working to transition its dispatch center since its inception in May 2007.

Town Hall Meeting of Highway 9 and Adjacent Citizens

Council Member Tina D'Aversa and I will be co-hosting the first of what we hope to be several meetings for any interested citizen to get involved with community efforts to bring awareness and support to issues facing the Highway 9 area. Highway 9 is the "Gateway to Milton," and as such, it needs greater attention. In addition, this area is somewhat unique to Milton since it is densely populated with both residences and businesses. Outside of the attention dedicated to this area by our city staff, we want to hear your thoughts and ideas so we can work together to make all of Milton the best place in the state to live. Council Member D'Aversa and I want your feedback on what we can do to co-sponsor resolutions, ordinance updates, or other activities to make the Highway 9 area a better place to live, work, and play. More information regarding the date, time, and location of the first meeting will be forthcoming soon. We expect this meeting to occur in the next several weeks. Please plan to attend.

Crossroads at Crabapple Art & Antique Festival

Saturday, October 4 Make plans to attend this year's Crossroads at Crabapple Antique and Art Festival, coming up on Saturday, October 4th! Enjoy an old-fashioned family event featuring American Country Antiques and juried local artists. Date: October 4, 2008Time: 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Location: Historic Community of Crabapple
790 Mayfield RoadMilton, GA 30004

This event will feature more than 50 American Country Antiques dealers from eight states, plus 50 juried artists, roaming musicians, food, fun and much more!

Admission and parking is free.

Energy Star sales tax holiday starts Thursday

The annual Energy Star sales tax holiday will start at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, October 2, and run through midnight Sunday, October 5. Georgians will not pay state or local sales taxes on the purchase of energy-efficient or water-efficient products that cost $1,500 or less per item during the sales tax holiday period. Eligible appliances include dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs, dehumidifiers, programmable thermostats, refrigerators, doors and windows. Eligible Water-Sense products include high-efficiency toilets and bathroom faucets. For more information, visit or

Next Milton Nights

WHEN: October 25, 2008 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
WHERE: Mad Italian Restaurant on Windward Parkway
WHAT TO WEAR: Wear your best Halloween costume. Prizes to best dressed big and little "kids." Come even if you do not want to wear a costume though!
WORTHY CAUSE: Host restaurant Mad Italian has agreed to donate 10% of the evening's sales to the Milton Public Safety fund.

To find out more, please go to and click on the Milton Nights section at the top of the home page.This is a great opportunity for you and your family to get out and meet your neighbors.

Upcoming Meetings

Unless otherwise noted, all meetings will occur at Milton City Hall located at 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Building 100, Suite 107, Milton, GA 30004.

To review agendas or materials for upcoming cases, please visit the city's website and view the community calendar.

Click here to view October's calendar

Oct 1: Disability Awareness Committee - 7 p.m.
Oct 6: City Council Regular Meeting - 6 p.m.
Oct 7: Design Review Board - 6 p.m.
Oct 8: Tree Committee - 3:30 p.m.
Oct 13: City Council Work Session - 6:00 p.m. and
Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee - 6:30 p.m.
Oct 20: City Council Regular Meeting - 6:00 p.m.
Oct 21: Board of Zoning Appeals - 7:00 p.m.
Oct 22: Tree Committee - 3:30 p.m.
Oct 27: Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee - 6:30 p.m.
Oct 28: Planning Commission - 7 p.m.
I consider it an honor and privilege to serve you, the citizens of Milton. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Best regards,

Alan Tart
Council Member, District 6 (At Large)
Milton, GA
678-464-8550 (cell)

For those who dare, your last night awaits on Saturday, October 25th from 6pm to 9pm!
At The Mad Italian, your final requests shall be heard among ghouls, goblins, witches, and ghosts - some young, some old, and some even cold!

Your Concluding Menu Offers:

Dinner for a Family of Four only $51.00(additional kids meals can be purchased for 4.50 each)Includes.....FREE munchie bar for the family from 6 to 8 PM Each Adult receives: Pasta dinnerHouse salad, choice of dressingGarlic breadOne Dessert to share Two drinks per adult from the bar (beer or wine)
Each child receives: Kid's meals ( from the kid's menu) Soft drink beverages Cookie
(Tax and gratuity not included - in house promotion only, no carry outbags.)
Please RSVP by October 20th to
So come one and all to the first annual Milton Halloween Nights dressed in your best costume
for good food, good fun, and good people!

Crossroads At Crabapple Art & Antique Festival

Saturday October 4th

Make plans to attend this year's Crossroads at Crabapple Antique and Art Festival, coming up on Saturday, October 4th! Enjoy an old-fashioned family event featuring American Country Antiques and juried local artists.

Date: October 4, 2008
Time: 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Location: Historic Community of Crabapple
790 Mayfield Road
Milton, GA 30004

This event will feature more than 50 American Country Antiques dealers from eight states, plus 50 juried artists, roaming musicians, food, fun and much more!

Admission and parking is free.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Milton 41 / Centennial 20

Milton Raises $166K At Ball

Courtesy Appen Newspapers.

September 24, 2008

MILTON - Saturday, Sept. 5 Milton High School's booster club held its annual Red and Silver Ball at the Marriott on Windward Parkway, raising more than $166,000 for the school's athletic programs.According to event organizers, $93,000 of that was from the 550 items up for auction, which included everything from a week-long stay in Italy to dinner with the coaches. Ticket sales reached into the 700s, and some of the money raised will be used to hire a trainer for the school.

Sponsors included: Appen Newspapers Inc.; Milton Girls Lacrosse Camps; The Mowry family; Vernier Inc.; Puppy Palace; Jeffrey Fester DMD; Legacy Lacrosse Cup; Brett Glick DMD MS; The Ruland family; Crowell Associates; Habitat and Initiative; Northside Hospital; Milton Swim Parents; Billhofer USA; Old Crabapple Bottle Shop; Fitt 2 U; Wachovia; North Fulton Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine; Swim Atlanta; Tina D'Aversa Milton City Council; Magnolia Media, LLC, Le Grande Salon; Chin Chin; Milton's Bar and Grill; Edward Jones; Dean Machinery; Sage Woodfire Tavern; El Azteca; Robert Kakos DDS; Woolard Construction; Beverage Depot; The Icebox; Casa Nuova; James Gray DMD; Randall Coggins DMD; Strawberry Fields/A Dana Gallery; Nami International Inc.; The Burton Family; The Schwartz/Derene Family; Laura and Walter Dean.

Must Win Game From Centennial HS!

Must win game for Centennial HS!

The disappointing Centennial Knights, who were an early
season pick by some to win the Region, bring their 1-3
record (0-3 Region) to Milton High School, 3-1 (2-1
Region) tonight in what is a must win game for them.
Their season on life support, they face a tough Eagles
running game. The Knights turned their season around
last year in similar fashion and they always play tough
when their backs are against the wall. This is a key
region match-up that will surely have playoff
implications in what has now become a wide-open region

Tune into tonight at 7:15 p.m. for our
live play-by-play broadcast complete with instant
replays and game analysis.

Our pre-game show starts at 7:15 p.m. with predictions
on all of tonights high school football action across
North Fulton. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

Just go to, click the game icon at the
top of the site, create a password and log in! Its that
simple and its free!

The broadcast tonight is brought to you by Emory Johns
Creek Hospital, Charter Communications, Milton Heating
and Air, Montanas Bar and Grille, and Harrison Motor

For HS Football Broadcast advertising opportunities,

Don't miss a play on!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Milton Wishes Beckett Well

The City of Milton said farewell to City Manager Billy Beckett on Wednesday, Sept 24, with parting breakfast at city hall. Mayor Joe Lockwood, Councilman Bill Lusk, and Rick Hirsekorn from CH2M Hill joined city staff to wish Beckett well. As a show of appreciation, a football signed by city staff was given. Until a replacement is found, Public Safety Director Chris Lagerbloom will be taking over the roll of city manager.

Milton Has A Sewer Policy! (Well, Sort of)

publication date: Sep 22, 2008

author/source: Jonathan Copsey /

Milton City Council member Julie Zahner-Bailey talks about the proposed sewer map.
It may come as a surprise to the business pessimists living in Milton that after two years of intense debate, several changes in key city personnel, a team building psychiatric debacle, two defeated incumbent City Council members in municipal elections last year and a public fight with Fulton County last month, the north side’s most infamous city finally has a sewer policy.

Well, sort of.

The policy does expand sewer service, but it doesn’t expand it to every property that already has a Fulton County sewer permit. The agreement that Milton reached includes allowing sewer expansion on only a portion of the properties that Fulton County assured could have it.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, apparently it didn’t make sense to Fulton County officials either. They now oppose the measure, after being for it. Sound familiar?


It was a theatrical end to the seemingly endless debate over the city of Milton’s sewer policy, beginning with heated arguments on both sides and ending with a final vote that Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood all but demanded in another contentious Milton City Council meeting held on September 15.

As the meeting began, Councilman Alan Tart and Councilwoman Julie Zahner-Bailey tried to delay a definitive decision by removing the scheduled sewer debate from the agenda, wishing to add it to a workshop sometime later in the month.

They argued that council members and citizens needed more time to evaluate the proposed policy. Lockwood, embattled and under fire from community leaders for not taking decisive enough action to resolve the sewer log-jam, took the gloves off, reversed course and forced a motion. That motion was approved in a 4-2 vote. (Councilwoman Tina D’Aversa, who would likely have voted with the minority, was absent for the first half of the meeting.)

The issue, bogging the city down for nearly two years, came to a head last weekend when Milton staffers released a map showing which plots of land within the city have sewer access and which do not. The controversy began when staff admitted there were six properties to the south of the city, totaling 110 acres, whose current sewer status was unknown. These were, characteristically, marked in red.

It turned out the properties in question did not have current sewer service, but had been previously approved for sewers by Fulton County. Milton staff tentatively recommended allowing these properties sewer. Lockwood defended their position. “All it does is define the existing areas that had sewers in them,” Lockwood said, “and give us the distinction where Fulton County said, ‘These are the people who have always had sewer and always had the right to sewer.’”

To the “no-sewer-whatsoever” group, however, these additions essentially amounted to an expansion of the sewer system in Milton. Their position was crystal clear: absolutely no sewer extension to be allowed within the city for any reason.

For Lockwood, it was quite a an untenable dilemma – abide by the wishes of several influential council members and what could be interpreted as a majority of his citizens (based on last November’s election results) or follow through on what Fulton County had approved, which he may be legally obligated to honor?


Sewer is the sacred cow in the city of Milton that has seemingly split the populace right in two. Since the city’s incorporation two years ago, any city-sanctioned expansion of sewers has largely been demonized as a precursor to higher density. Milton likes its horse farms and quaint rural feel. Sewers are seen as the forbearer for the demise of that bucolic way of life. Or so goes the “no-sewer-whatsoever” group philosophy.

When Milton incorporated from Fulton County, the two entities made an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) clearly defining where sewers were already located and what properties had the right to put in sewer.

When Fulton County ran the area, they could make a policy and then break it at their pleasure, and the future citizens of Milton had little say in the matter. That was one of the motivations behind incorporating the city.

The impasse began with the fact that the county promised the option of sewers to several properties before Milton incorporated, but some of Milton’s elected officials reached office on a strict promise of no sewer expansion.

Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley staked out her position – and that of the county – bluntly: “I will defend each and every single parcel that has previously enjoyed the privilege of sewer eligibility should they wish to preserve that right and privilege,” she said.

D’Aversa was equally resolute. “If you say no sewer extension, then you’ve made a statement that that’s your policy for your city,” she said.


The council meeting had a sizable audience of citizens wishing to hear the council’s deliberations on the subject and, hopefully, come to an agreement on the sewer issue.

The residents attending the meeting seemed to be split on what to do – finish the controversy and put an end to two years of very public bickering and humiliation? Or delay a vote so that both the public and council members could study the map further? Some suggested the sewer opponents thought they were a vote short of endorsing their position and may have been trying to buy precious time needed to swing a vote their way.

A major point of contention was the speed at which the resolution came up. According to council members, the IGA and map were released on the Friday before the meeting, giving members just the weekend to review it. Citizens had even less time to look at the map.

“We’ve looked at enough of these things and they haven’t changed drastically,” noted Councilman Bill Lusk. “It’s basically the same map that we got from Fulton County.”

If the writing had not been on the wall after the initial vote to delay debate, it certainly was when the mayor’s position became abundantly clear halfway through Zahner-Bailey’s intense questioning of Milton’s new Community Development Director, Alice Wakefield. It was her department that created the map. The questioning tactics directed at Wakefield by several council members resembled that of an interrogation, and Lockwood took offense.

“This is the reason I’m not supporting a [further] work session,” said Lockwood. “I don’t want to see our staff get on trial like this. I think it’s time we take a vote and move forward. I know where everybody stands on this. We could go round in a big circle and come back. We could spend three more hours on this [or] we could spend two weeks on this but we’re all going to come back to the same decision. We could spend two more years on this. At this point we have beaten this thing to death.

“We’ve lost several good people,” he continued, referring to City Administrator Billy Beckett, who announced his resignation last month, and former Community Development Director Tom Wilson, among others. “It has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, we haven’t been able to move forward [because] everybody is sits around and twiddles their thumbs every day because they don’t know which way to go. I’m ready to make a decision.”

As he said this, D’Aversa stormed out of the meeting and the audience turned angry, shouting support or anger toward the mayor. Shouts of “stonewalling” and “what’s the rush?” were called out several times, each with equal vigor. After another hour of debate, Lockwood decided to invoke the city’s newly adopted speaking time limit policy and promptly cut Zahner-Bailey off.


Councilwoman Karen Thurman made a motion to approve the IGA and map, but only allowing sewers in the Crabapple Crossing properties and nowhere else (these properties were already covered by the Crabapple Master Plan, which was agreed to by the city months ago) and cut out more than half of the properties disputed from sewer consideration.

D’Aversa, Alan Tart and Zahner-Bailey voted against the new sewer IGA. Mayor Lockwood and Council members Lusk, Thurman and Burt Hewitt voted for the motion, and it carried 4-3. And so Milton’s sewer policy was finally born.


Those on the losing side of the argument, namely D’Aversa and Zahner-Bailey, were infuriated at the decision, despite reassurances by the mayor that the IGA was only defining where sewers had always been allowed.

“What you just witnessed,” said Zahner-Bailey, “was people who claim that they don’t support sewer extension just vote to support sewer extension… The big white elephant in the room is that sewer necessitates density.”

“Now we’ve made the statement that we allow sewer extension,” D’Aversa said. “I think it’s a precedent.” She went on to note her displeasure at Lockwood forcing the issue through so quickly. “These maps were never provided to the public. Open and transparent government means that you at least allow the citizens we represent to view what it is we’re about to discuss and vote on. The thing that I’m most disappointed with is that we did a disservice to our community and our citizens by not allowing them to view the data. Public process was undermined tonight.”


Despite the policy’s adoption, the issue is far from resolved. While Milton may have reached a decision on where sewer may go, the county still has to agree with them. Right now it looks like Fulton will not.

Almost as soon as the measure was passed, Lynne Riley said that she cannot support an agreement that does not allow everyone a sewer who was promised it. “Based on what I have seen, there are definitely parcels that were omitted by city council action that are legitimately entitled to sanitary sewers,” she said. “What was presented on August 4 was the county’s representation of that which was in place when they incorporated… The city chose to revise it further.”

It was in the August 4 council meeting that Riley and several county staff members presented a similar map and IGA before the council outlining exactly where Fulton County allows sewers.
“If you knew that your property was worth $1,000 an acre and by an action taken by council it’s now worth $10 an acre, you would not be happy,” she continued. “The fact that a property owner has not acted to connect a sewer does not diminish the value of the property based on eligibility. It was the city of Milton that chose to remove their rights… I certainly would want affidavits that would release the county from liability from these property owners before I would consider taking away that right (to sewer).”


The next step, now that Milton has come to an agreement on where they believe sewers should be allowed, is for Fulton County to look it over and see where the two differ. Once the differences are ironed out, the new Intergovernmental Agreement can become fact. The issue of “expanding sewers” will likely be tackled again in the near future as those properties allowed sewer by the county decide whether they want to put it in.

For Mayor Lockwood, he’s just happy it’s over for now. “It just came to the point where we had to make a decision and do it and move forward. If we had gone on further people would have been caught up in analysis paralysis. I’m sure we would come up with the same decision a month from now, two years from now. Sometimes a good leader has to make the right decision and stick by his guns and move things forward. I am 100 percent confident that we made the right decision.”

Only now, Fulton County doesn’t like it.

Alert: 911 Change For City Of Milton Residents

From the City of Milton.

The City of Milton will transition its Emergency 911 and Public Safety Dispatching from the Fulton County Emergency Dispatch Center and Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to the City of Alpharetta Emergency Dispatch Center and PSAP on October 1, 2008. All wired phones or "land lines" will be changed through a programming process. Citizens that have these phones will not need to take any action. It is important to note that citizens who have VOIP (voice over internet protocol) service may need to take action. It is the responsibility of those users to notify their service provider and tell them of the change. The information for the Alpharetta Public Safety E911 Dispatch Center and PSAP is as follows:

City of Alpharetta Dispatch Center 2565 Old Milton Parkway Alpharetta, Georgia 30004 (678) 297-6300 Milton's Public Safety

Department has been working to transition its dispatch center since its inception in May 2007. Thank you for your attention to this very important issue. Any questions, please contact the Milton Public Safety Department at 678.242.2570.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Southern Comforts Grand Opening! Please join as we celebrate the Grand Opening of our newest location in Alpharetta.

Southern Comforts 21 Milton Avenue
Alpharetta, GA 30009

Please be our guest as we share some food and cheer
from 7:00 to 9:00pm
on Tuesday, September 30th

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lagerbloom To Pinch Hit As Milton City Manager Again

By DOUG NURSE / Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Milton Public Director Chris Lagerbloom is being asked to step into the breach once again.
The City Council on Wednesday will ask Lagerbloom to fill in as city manager until an interim can be found. Wednesday is the last day for City Manager Billy Beckett, who resigned after five months on the job.

Lagerbloom said he hopes this stint is shorter than the eight-month term he served as city manager late last year and early this year. Lagerbloom took the reins of day-to-day management of Milton government after the first city manager resigned under fire.
“The mayor is talking to people as interims who are qualified,” Lagerbloom said. “They just couldn’t be here as soon as we needed them to be. I don’t anticipate this will as long as last time.”

Green Cemetery on 11 Alive

Many Thanks to Jim Bell for sharing this with us!

The following is a video segment from 11 alive regarding the Green Cemetery coming to Milton.

For those who dare, your last night awaits on Saturday, October 25th - 6pm to 9pm!
The Mad Italian, your final requests shall be heard among ghouls, goblins, witches, and ghosts - some young, some old, and some even cold!
Your Concluding Menu Offers:

Dinner for a Family of Four only $51.00(additional kids meals can be purchased for 4.50 each)Includes.....FREE munchie bar for the family from 6 to 8 PM Each Adult receives: Pasta dinnerHouse salad, choice of dressingGarlic breadOne Dessert to share Two drinks per adult from the bar (beer or wine) Each child receives: Kid's meals ( from the kid's menu)Soft drink beveragesCookie
(Tax and gratuity not included - in house promotion only, no carry outbags.)
Please RSVP by October 20th to

So come one and all to the first annual Milton Halloween Nights dressed in your best costume
for good food, good fun, and good people!

Black Lab Home Again


After a day of knocking on doors and meeting some more wonderful Milton neighbors, the old sweet Black Lab nicknamed Shoes, but whose real name is Duke, is back home tonight safe and sound after being missing since Friday night.

Thanks so much to all who helped me get him there!

Gosh, how I love this place!

Thanks Again,
Patti Silva / Miltonville

Monday, September 22, 2008

Milton Citizens Generously Donate $27,000 To Help The Muscular Dystrophy Association

The City of Milton's firefighters, with the help of big-hearted Milton citizens, outdid themselves for the second year by raising $27,000 during the 2008 Fill-the-Boot Campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). In just three Fridays, two in July and one in August, Milton's firefighters were able to collect an outstanding number of donations at intersections and other locations throughout the City.

"It has been a privilege working with MDA for the past two boot drives and I can't say enough about the generosity of the citizens of Milton," said Fire Lieutenant Chris Coker. "Our firefighters show their dedication and commitment in a number of ways, from collecting monies for charity in the summer heat to risking their lives in the heat of a blazing fire. We commend them on their hard work and selfless service."

The money raised will go towards medicine, treatment, research, and powered wheelchairs for children in Georgia affected by Muscular Dystrophy.

"Milton citizens really support our Public Safety Department and all we do," added Coker. "We are very fortunate to serve such a great community day in and day out!"

To donate, click here=>

City Wide Resurfacting Project

The City will start its 4.17-mile program of resurfacing city streets on October 1, 2008, as shown on the map. Portions of the following nine roads are scheduled to be resurfaced and patched as needed:

1. Alicia Way, from Hopewell to dead end, 0.1 miles.
2. Bell Park Road, from Thompson Road to dead end, 0.29 miles.
3. Creek Club Drive, from SR 9 to Wolf Willow Close, 0.36 miles.
4. Hopewell Crest, from Hopewell Plantation Drive to dead end, 0.29 miles.
5. Kilgarron Court, from Powers Court Ave to dead end, 0.11 miles.
6. Onagh Court, from Glendlough Court to dead end, 0.16 miles.
7. Thompson Road, from Hopewell Road to Francis Road, 1.86 miles.
8. Treyburn Manor View, from White Columns Drive to dead end, 0.6 miles.
9. White Columns Drive, from Freemanville Road to Hampton Bluff Drive, 0.4 miles.

Please be on the lookout for construction activity on these roadways and be mindful of any construction workers on the road. Please note that Thompson Road may only be patched in October and would then be resurfaced later this year.

"While the City's budget for road improvements is somewhat limited, we have selected roads that need work the most based on a standard rating system," said Public Works Director Dan Drake. "The Pavement Condition Index, or PCI, gives roads a rating of 1 to 100, with 100 being excellent, and we chose this year to work on local roads with a rating of 30 or below. This will ensure that citizens see the maximum road improvement from their tax dollars."

This project is expected to be completed by November 1st. Work on each of these roads will be done during weekday business hours, with start times as early as 8:00 AM and ending no later than 6:00 PM.

Click here to see map of roads=>

Mayor & Council Decide On Sewer Service Issues

From the City of Milton.

During the September 15th regular City Council Meeting, the Mayor and City Council carefully reviewed an analysis and recommendations made by Milton's Community Development department in regard to a proposed Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and revised City of Milton Sewer Service Area Map prepared by Fulton County. After much discussion, Mayor and Council voted to accept all of Staff's recommendations except to allow property in the Crabapple Plan shown as eligible for sewer to remain sewer service accessible.

"I am excited that Council and I have made a decision on sewer and am ready to move forward," said Mayor Joe Lockwood. "I believe we have decided on a solution that is in the best interest of the City, and which will have no negative impact on future density issues." Mayor Lockwood adds, "This was a difficult decision for Council to reach a consensus on, and I appreciate the time that the Council members and the Staff have put into bringing us to this point."

The Adopted Sewer Service Area map shows 84% of the City to remain unsewered (20,862.8 acres), 3% Little River (795.6 acres) and 13% Big Creek Services Area (3,280.5 acres). "Staff and I reviewed these properties parcel by parcel, and land lot by land lot, and presented to Mayor and Council what we believed to be best for our City," said Alice Wakefield. "I am pleased with their decision."

Click here to see the adopted city sewer map=>

Second Annual Milton Roundup A Success!

The City of Milton hosted its second annual Milton Roundup this past weekend. With more than 3,300 attendees, the Roundup was a huge success. The fun-filled day started with a Classic Car parade from the new Super Target on State Route 9 all the way to the Publix parking lot at Birmingham Crossroads. After the parade, the Roundup officially began and Milton citizens were able to enjoy games, rides, shows and food all day long.

The tethered hot air balloon rides were the big hit of the day as families were able to float nearly 50 feet in the air in the basket! Kids (and a few adults too) rode the mechanical bull, ponies and inflatable rides. The Public Works Chili Cook-off was another hit. "Cookin' with Gas" took home the top spot with 1st place and the Spirit Award, followed by "Guns & Hoses" in 2nd place. "Fire & Gas Technicians" came in 3rd place and also won the People's Choice Award for the second year running! Congratulations to the winning teams!

Laura Bentley and the Equine Rescue Team presented Milton's Fire Department with the gift of an equine rescue sling, which Milton's firefighters can use to rescue trapped horses, and gave a demonstration of the tool in use. Thanks to donations of water and cold drinks from Publix, the Milton Public Safety Fund Drink Stand netted a whopping $931.00! Thank you to everyone who donated to help our Public Safety fundraising efforts!

The day ended when three massive hot air balloons lit the dusky sky. This was surely a day and an evening to remember. The City will have to work even harder to top this event next year!

Message From Mayor Joe Lockwood

It is hard to imagine that all we have accomplished here in the City of Milton has happened in less than two years and I am proud to say we have come a long way. We have formed a new City, elected a hard-working City Council and put together an outstanding City Staff. Together we have celebrated many successes and have overcome many obstacles. Our leadership has helped bring Milton to fruition these past few years and will continue to push for the City we all voted for.

We've made many accomplishments thus far. We launched our own Public Safety department and signed an intergovernmental agreement with Alpharetta to provide Milton with 911 dispatch for police and fire instead of Fulton County dispatch. The Finance department presented balanced budgets for FY 07, 08, 09 that continue to fund crucial projects such as road improvement, public safety and setting money aside for parks and recreation. The Public Works department launched new projects like the Catchbasin Lid Replacement Program and a Sidewalk Replacement Program and worked with Alpharetta to help a citizen in need by installing a granite dust path on Windward Pkwy. The list goes on and on. We can all be proud of the progress we've achieved.

It is important to remember in times of difficulty and in times of prosperity the importance of strong leadership. I want to assure the citizens of Milton that it is my pleasure and responsibility to lead this City into a bright and triumphant future. I, along with City Council and Staff, will continue every day to take the initiative to enhance our City. We will endure the necessary growing pains every new City experiences and prosper.

Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos, has a great motto to live by: "Loving change, tumult, even chaos is a prerequisite for survival, let alone success." I agree with this sentiment in every sense of the word. Chaos and tumult, and handling it correctly and in the right manner, will surely deliver success. This statement rings true for all areas in life, including local government.

I want to remind Milton citizens that cities across the nation, both small and large, experience change every day. Milton, just like any other city, will face new challenges every week, and every week we will have new solutions. We will face those challenges head on and learn from each new experience. Not a single day goes by without progress.

What I ask of you now is your continued support. Know that Council, City Staff and I are working hard to make you proud to call Milton your home. We will continue to work together for a better future. Remaining optimistic and continuing to share any concerns you may have is vitally important. With your help and cooperation, the success of the City of Milton has no limits.

Sincerely, Mayor Joe Lockwood

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In Search Of....GAS!

So what is your story? Did you have gas buried in the back yard or are you relying on wind power? Share your thoughts on the gas shortage crisis below!

Miltonian Concerned About Speeding Abuses

NOTE: The staff of are advocates of safe driving. We applaud Christopher Bloor for stepping up to the plate and leading the charge to make our roads and our families safer. Please stand with Christopher and sign the petition!

Thank you,

Tim Enloe
Magnolia Media, LLC

Dear Milton Neighbors,

As our city streets become busier and more commuters use them to access to HWY 400 and surrounding thoroughfares, we have seen traffic become congested and accidents become more prevalent. Many people are unfamiliar with the roads of Milton and will at times endanger themselves and other with excessive speeds.

Under Georgia law, the police are limited in their ability to control speeders unless they are going excessively over the posted limit. Once someone has reached 11mph over the posted limit, the police are able to stop them an issue them a citation. That means that someone has to be doing 56mph in some areas before they can be slowed down.

This initiative is not about adding revenue to the city or trying to create speed traps. It is about safety in our neighborhoods. The families that live along the streets where speed limits are set to 45mph have the same safety concerns that those of us that live in traditional neighborhoods have. It is time that we ensure that all of our communities and neighbors are safe.

Over the last two years, we have had multiple accidents occur because of speed and have unfortunately had people die on our City streets for the very same reason. To ensure the overall safely of our community we must take action to limit the possibilities of further accidents or deaths.

Please take a moment to sign the petition ( and help us to support our community, our city and the police and firemen who protect and serve us.

Thank you, Christopher Bloor

AM Pet ID Page

Name: Cisco
Owners: Bob and Sandy Smith
Phone: 555 998 2324
Home Location: Hopewell Road

In light of all the lost and found dogs, cats, and other loved pets, has come to the rescue! We are now accepting pictures of your pet along with your contact information. We will then place this information in our Doggie Tails section for safe keeping and reference in case your four footed friend goes missing! Email us today at: / Subject line: Pet ID
It's FREE!

Help Bring An Old Pup Home!

Many thanks to Patti Silva at Miltonville for sharing this with us.
Dear Friends and Neighbors:

An older black Lab was found at Shannondale Farm at 2225 Birmingham Road (closer to Hopewell Road) in Milton about 6:30 this evening. They called me and now I have the dog at my home. He is jet black other than a white/grey muzzle and feet (i.e nicknamed "Shoes" by my children) and a green shock collar (with dead battery) but no tags. He also has a green scarf with fire trucks tied around his neck.

Do you know anyone missing a older black Lab? Could you please forward this email to your friends and neighbors in Milton so we can get him home.

He sure is a sweet old fella!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Milton 42, Alpharetta 13

Milton scores big, manhandles Alpharetta

Raiders can’t match Eagles’ superior offensive effort


Friday, September 19, 2008

Milton hasn’t qualified for the postseason in football in the 21st century, but the Eagles certainly looked like a playoff team Friday night as they trampled Region 6-AAAAA rival Alpharetta 42-13.

It was the Eagles’ second straight decisive region victory on their home field. Both Milton and Alpharetta are 2-1 in the region, 3-1 overall.

The Milton offense was led by Tennessee-bound tailback Toney Williams, who carried 24 times for 250 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 916 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season.
One play after Milton stopped the Raiders on a fourth-down sack deep in Eagles territory early in the third quarter, Williams shot through the middle for 78 yards and a touchdown to give the Eagles a 28-7 lead.

The Raiders closed within 28-13 two plays after sophomore quarterback Mikhal Abdul-Saboor left the game with a leg injury. But Milton responded with a penalty-aided scoring drive, with Williams going 15 yards for his final score.

The Eagles scored on drives of 65, 71 and 59 yards in their first three series and finished the game with more than 480 yards of total offense. Quarterback Wil Perry was 10-of-13 for 120 yards and a touchdown, throwing primarily to fullback Robbie Hoffman and tight end Johnny Keane, who had an 8-yard scoring catch.

The Milton defense, which allowed 77 points in its first two games, turned in a second straight strong effort, led by lineman Andrew Quinlan, linebacker Jeremy Grable and safety Joe Kizer, who all contributed big plays.

After Abdul-Saboor connected with Brandon Terry for 27 yards to tie the score at 7-7 in the first period, the Milton defense forced three straight punts before twice holding on downs inside the Eagles’ 20.

Abdul-Saboor passed for 234 yards and set up the second Alpharetta score on a 45-yard pass to Terry, but the Raiders were ineffective on the ground. They finished with just 26 yards rushing, with Alpharetta running backs carrying just once in the game for a loss of 4 yards.

Catch The Big Rivalry Game Tonight!

The surprising Alpharetta Raiders (3-0) bring theirundefeated record and Cinderella season to the EaglesNest where they take on the Milton Eagles (2-1) in a key region match-up that will surely have playoff implications.

Tune into tonight at 7:15 p.m. for ourlive play by play broadcast complete with instant replays and game analysis.Your broadcast team will be live from Milton High School tonight to bring you all the hard-hitting action!

Pre-game show starts at 7:15 p.m. with predictions on all of tonights high school football action across North Fulton. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

Just go to, click the game icon at the top of the site, create a password and log in!

The broadcast tonight is brought to you by Emory JohnsCreek Hospital, Charter Communications, Milton Heatingand Air and Montanas Bar and Grille.

For HS Football Broadcast advertising opportunities,email

John Fredericks
Publisher, Beacon Media
770-640-3230 X203

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Letter From Mayor Lockwood

Friends and Neighbors,

Last Monday, September 15th, the Milton City Council approved a plan to move forward on a sewer service area agreement with Fulton County. This passed by a 4 to 3 vote, with myself as one of the 4 in favor.

This plan basically defined the areas of Milton that have access to sewer and those that do not. It was based on an existing Fulton County ordinance, and actual additional areas that already are sewered, or had commitments from the County before Milton was formed to be sewered. There are divided opinions on this issue and I respect every one of Council's opinion.

This issue has been going back and forth for a long time and it has made things very unproductive both at the city and between our citizens, has cost a loss of key staff, and has cost $ thousands of dollars in legal opinions. As the leader of the city, I felt very strongly that this issue needed to be addressed and decided upon so that we may move forward as a city in a positive way, and allow us to work on future "quality of life" issues for our citizens. I honestly believe that if we waited 2 more weeks, or 2 more month, or 2 more years, the decision would have been the same.

It boils down to this:

Our staff and legal dept. recommended that we take 7 properties out of Fulton County's rendition of what they believed was the existing sewered areas. What I supported was this, minus 2 properties in Crabapple that were called for higher density by the approved Crabapple Master Plan.

Here are the facts and numbers:

1. Previous sewered area, Big Creek basin 3280.5 acres (13%), Little River basin 795.6 acres (3%), and un-sewered areas of 20,862.8 acres (84%)

2. Fulton County proposed sewered area, Big Creek basin 3344.9 acres (13%), Little River basin 795.6 acres (3%), and un-sewered areas of 20,798.3 acres (84%)

3. City of Milton sewered area that passed they other night, Big Creek basin 3287.6 acres (13%), Little River basin 795.6 acres (3%), and un-sewered areas of 20,855.6 acres (84%)*

These above numbers were provided by City of Milton Community Development Dept.

As you can see there are marginal differences in acreage and no difference in percentages of sewered vs. non-sewered areas. I feel confident that this decision will allow us to enforce and support a plan that will protect Milton and ensure that all of our commitments and promises can be up held for you, our citizens and neighbors.

Please feel free to give me a call at 678 993 7664 if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,Mayor Joe Lockwood

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Sewer Extention Approved 4-3"

Email Newsletter from Council Person Julie Zahner Bailey.

Council members Zahner Bailey, D'Aversa and Tart vote against sewer extension

Sewer Extension Approved 4-3

Thank you for attending the September 15th Mayor and Council meeting. There was standing room only attendance and I received many emails in opposition to sewer extension prior to the meeting.

Despite requests by citizens and Council Members D'Aversa, Tart and Zahner Bailey to allow a minimum of a week to review last minute, new maps and IGA, a vote was taken to approve sewer extension. I am greatly disappointed with what I perceive as a rush to a vote and the approval of sewer extension supported by Mayor Lockwood and Council Members Thurman, Lusk and Hewitt.

Karen Thurman made the motion to approve staff's newly-created map and the new IGA and to include more acreage for sewer extension than staff had recommended. Bill Lusk seconded the motion. This 4-3 vote to approve sewer extension impacts areas of Highway 9, Webb Road, Hopewell Road (in Vickery Crest subdivision), Crabapple including Green Road and Arnold Mill, Green Road near Waterside, Waterside and the Crabapple Village and land on Mayfield Road.

Please use this link to read the article in Tuesday's, AJC.

While I appreciate staff's effort and time, please know that I did not support this motion or vote. The new maps and IGA were provided on Friday and Sunday at 2:00 a.m. These documents were never made available to the public before the council meeting on Monday night. Council members D'Aversa, Zahner Bailey and Tart requested a work session so that the public would have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with these documents and to provide input. This request was denied. A decision of this magnitude deserves appropriate deliberation.

Regardless of claims otherwise, the Milton City Attorney has stated for the record, not just once but several times, that the version of the Fulton County IGA and sewer service maps voted on Monday night included sewer extension. Staff's anaylsis also shows sewer extension; for the full Staff analysis click here.

Please note that the City of Milton website reports that this vote did not represent new or extended sewer. This is incorrect as the new sewer map and IGA do, in fact, include new sewered areas. These are represented in red on the attached sewer map and were pointed out by the City Attorney and staff's analysis. To see the Milton website article and new sewer map, click here.

Obviously, sewer in itself is not bad or evil. The problem is that it allows unnatural density levels. There are two exposures from the new sewer areas. First, higher density may be allowed than the unsewered land would otherwise support. Second, properties adjoining the new sewer areas may well request sewer in the future. Approval would be subject to future City Council decisions, so control is tenuous. If legally challenged, Courts may tend to approve zoning requests where the infrastructure (sewer) already exists. The new sewered areas will create new exposure to additional sewer expansion.

Now that the vote has been taken, the next step is to reach a legal agreement with Fulton County Commissioners. In an article published in today's AJC, Commissioner Lynne Riley indicates that the maps and IGA approved on Monday night do not extend sewer far enough. The article confirms that Council Member Thurman's motion to add areas to the map was an attempt to get closer to Fulton's desired stance.

I know that many of you are disappointed and feel personally let down by the decision of some to extend sewer into Milton. Please continue to contact the Mayor and Council Members about your concerns. As always, thank you for the opportunity and privilege to serve as your Council Member. I will continue to work hard on your behalf everyday for the future of our collective community.

Julie Zahner Bailey
Milton City Council
404-310-6344 (c)

Fulton Commission Won't Vote on Milton's Sewer Agreement

AM NOTE: The eight parcels referenced below are 1059, 1060, 1096, 1138, 1167, 1166, 1103, 1109, 1049. 1059 is located at the intersection of Mayfield and Bethany Roads. To preview the map, please click here=>

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fulton County is rejecting a sewer agreement hammered out over months and approved Monday by a divided Milton City Council.

County Commissioner Lynne Riley said Tuesday she warned Mayor Joe Lockwood and other council members last week that she would oppose any agreement that omitted city parcels previously promised sewers by the county. The final agreement left out eight pieces of property on the city’s southern border.

“Unfortunately, those revisions by Milton staff removed property that were duly granted sewer eligibility by Fulton County,” Riley said. “The agreement solves 99.6 percent of the issues, but that 0.4 percent still needs their rights defended. This is not what I expected to wake up to this morning.”

Riley said she has asked the county attorney to review the county’s vulnerability to lawsuits if it were to consider the city’s new plan.

Typically, commissioners rely on the advice of the commissioner in the affected district.
The item was pulled from today’s County Commission meeting agenda. Milton council member Karen Thurman, who voted to approve the agreement, said she doesn’t envision having to reopen the whole discussion.

“We’ve given staff clear direction on 99.6 percent of the cases,” Thurman said. “They can issue certificates of occupancy and land disturbance permits. We still have 0.4 percent that we have to work on with the county. We’ll get there.”

Because the county provides sewer inside the city limits, the city’s sewer policy has to be consistent with county plans and commitments.

The City Council voted 4-3 Monday night to approve a map and an intergovernmental agreement with Fulton County defining where sewer service could go in Milton. There was jubilation in the City Council chambers after it appeared the contentious issue had been settled.
In many communities, extending sewer service is routine. In Milton, it’s fodder for political combat, leading to the defeat of two incumbents last November and contributing to the resignation of the city manager after only five months on the job.

Milton residents treasure their tree-lined lanes, pastoral vistas and other rural characteristics, and they fear development, especially dense development, will ruin that. Many believe that sewer service is an engine for density, and they favor limiting sewerm service as a way to control growth.

But others argue that density can be controlled through zoning, that sewer service in some areas is reasonable and that the city needs the tax revenue from commercial projects.
In the past few months, the city has had several meetings and spent untold man-hours hammering out a map they hoped would settle the issue.

News From Alan Tart - Council Member From District 6

September 17, 2008 Update

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

On Monday, September 15, by a vote of 4 - 3, with Council Members Julie Zahner Bailey and Tina D'Aversa joining me in opposition, the Milton City Council voted to extend sewer service in our city. Please see relevant AJC article: "Bitter issue: Milton council agrees to extend sewer lines".

As a reminder from my previous newsletter, the mayor and council members did not receive the proposed Sewer Service Area map until last Friday afternoon, and we did not receive the proposed Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Fulton County until after 2:00 a.m. last Sunday morning. Council had very little time, therefore, to review these documents before the meeting last night. In addition and perhaps equally (if not more) concerning, neither the map, nor the IGA, were posted on the city web site to allow the public any opportunity to review and comment on the items in advance of the meeting.

Dozens of citizens were in attendance at the meeting, and the overwhelming majority of these citizens asked the mayor and council to postpone consideration of these items to allow for an opportunity to review them. Despite this, a motion put forth by me to remove consideration of these items from the agenda and instead postpone their consideration for one week failed.

I also want to point out to you that there is erroneous information in an article on the City of Milton's web site. Despite what is stated in the article, sewer service was indeed extended with the 4-3 vote Monday night. See article by clicking here. Our city attorney stated into the record that the inclusion of tracts of land in the Crabapple area (colored red on the proposed Sewer Service Area map) as part of the motion to approve the map and IGA was indeed sewer extension.

The map and IGA must now be approved by Fulton County before the contract and the ability for Fulton County to provide sewer service can legally go into effect. According the Fulton County's web site, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) plans to vote on the proposed map and IGA during its September 17 regular meeting. Click here for agenda.

Despite what I believe to be a violation of the spirit of open and transparent government and a blow to many citizens' trust in their city's government, I remain eager to get down to the business of making our city a better place for us all to live, work, and play. I only want you to be accurately informed about the facts of this issue.

As always, I consider it an honor to serve you. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. I encourage you to let me and the other council members and mayor know how you feel about this and any other issue. Public comment is allowed during all of our meetings. In addition, our e-mail addresses can be found by clicking on the link below.

Best regards,

Alan Tart
Council Member, District 6 (At Large)
Milton, GA
678-464-8550 (cell)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Computer Theft Delays Weekly Newspaper


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More than $50,000 worth of computers and electronics was stolen from Beacon Media Companies in Roswell, causing its weekly print editions to be several days late.
“Approximately 80 percent of our subscribers should be receiving editions this week,” said John Fredericks, publisher of Beacon Media. “But of course there’s information in there that’s two weeks old.”

Beacon Media, publishes the weekly Roswell Beacon, Alpharetta Beacon and Milton Beacon and has a circulation of 55,000, the publisher said. The company also operates and broadcasts a high school game of the week though IPTV.

Fredericks said Monday that it took his staff almost a week to get back on its feet. He said this week’s production schedule was running on time.

The theft occurred Sept. 7 but wasn’t discovered until the next day when the first employee arrived for work, according to a report taken by Roswell police. At least one door had been pried open, the report said.

Fredericks said the retail center where Beacon offices are located, on East Crossville Road, has been burglarized before.“This is the fifth time since April that someone has broken into a business in this complex,” he said. “It is a very sophisticated crew that is doing this.”

Fredericks said the company has insurance but there is no way to make up for the inconvenience. “The disruption to our company and customers was massive,” he said.

Classic Car Show Pics from The Roundup!

Bitter Issue: Milton Council Agrees To Extend Sewer Lines

Vote was 4-3 in highly controversial decision; some fear sewer system will end pastoral flavor of area


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A bitterly divided Milton City Council on Monday finally put to rest an issue that has bedeviled the community since its inception — a sewer policy.

The council voted 4-3 to adopt a map and agreement with Fulton County defining where county sewer could go. In many communities, extending sewer is a routine activity. In Milton, it’s been grounds for political combat, leading to the defeat of two incumbents last November, and contributing to the resignation of the city manager after only five months on the job.

North Fulton County news Milton residents treasure their tree-lined lanes, pastoral vistas and other rural characteristics, and they fear development, especially dense development, will ruin that. Many believe that sewer is an engine for density, and they favor limiting sewer as a way to control growth.

But others argue that density can be controlled through zoning, that sewer in some areas is reasonable, and the city needs the tax revenue from commercial projects.

After three hours of sometimes testy debate, Council member Karen Thurman moved to approve the map and agreement, hammered out by the city attorney and staff. Councilman Bill Lusk seconded. They were joined by Mayor Joe Lockwood and Councilman Burt Hewitt. Opposing the motion were Council members Julie Zahner Bailey, Tina D’Aversa and Alan Tart.

“It’s a landmark,” Lusk said. “We can remove this political football that’s been use and abused and maintain the character of the area that everyone wants, and get on the more important things of running this city. Now we can enforce sewer service and move on.”

The minority vigorously objected to voting Monday night, arguing they hadn’t seen the map until Friday, the agreement until Sunday, and the public hadn’t seen them at all. They lobbied for a work session next week so the details of the map and agreement could be fully vetted.

But Lockwood countered that after months of discussion it was time to make a decision.

The council’s decision establishes borders for sewer to go along Ga. 9 and in some spots in the Crabapple area.

The two sides could not agree on what defined “sewer extension,” the equivalent in Milton political parlance to a curse word. For the minority, sewer extension was defined as providing sewer to any new parcels. For the majority, extension was defined as running it beyond the defined service area.

City Council chambers initially was packed with about 100 people, including some from neighboring jurisdictions who came to watch the climatic showdown. About 20 residents and business owners spoke at the meeting. Although in the past, most speakers have been anti-sewer, on Monday those addressing the council were more evenly divided.

D’Aversa said after the meeting that by approving sewer extension, the City Council had established a dangerous precedent that could haunt the city later.

Zahner Bailey said that some on the council forgot earlier promises to voters.

“You just witnessed four people who claimed to not to support sewer extension vote to extend sewer,” she said. “Sewer equals density.”

Monday, September 15, 2008

Milton Council Gets First Look at 2009 Budget

by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers

September 08, 2008

MILTON - Milton's City Council got its first look at the $22.8 million fiscal year 2009 budget Sept. 3 in the form of a giant notebook complete with passages detailing department justification for each expenditure.

City Manager Billy Beckett said though the total amount of Milton's budget climbed more than $4.1 million, it was because of the Special Service District (SSD) funds the city received earlier in the summer, which can only be used on one-time cost expenditures. In fact, he said after figuring in CH2M HILL OMI's $7 million contract, the $447,000 building lease on City Hall and $5.7 million in city employee salaries, Milton really only had a few million dollars to work with.

That small amount could be compounded by several "challenges of producing revenue," he said, including Gov. Sonny Perdue's proposed freezing of the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant, which is a state reimbursement to Milton for cash it loses on homestead exemptions.

Perdue proposed the freeze in early August in the wake of the state's own budget crunch. It could cost the city more than $258,000.

Since that money is up in the air, Beckett created what he deemed a "bucket" of things he'd like to buy for the city, including additional police officers, the first year of a lease on a tanker/pumper truck for fire protection and additional human resources software.

Other revenue challenges include state and county economic abatements on several plots of land with which the city must comply and tax appeals that could add hundreds of thousands to the city's coffers.

"We could obviously use that money," he said.

So what could Milton expect from its 2009 budget?

Beckett set aside $1.2 million from the SSD funds for the purchase of more parks and greenspace. A part-time position contracted by CH2M Hill for parks and recreation is also in the document.

Beckett also set aside $100,000 for "something" at Birmingham Park. He said the extent of what the money could buy would be up to council, but he suggested a disc golf course, a picnic area and trail or a gravel parking lot to "show we're serious" about recreation in the city.

A little more than $124,000 is set aside for improvements to council chambers, which also houses municipal court. There is also money set aside for a records clerk and a new system to stream council meetings over the Internet.

On the public safety side, there is money for one additional police officer and requisite equipment per shift, which would bump up coverage to four bodies plus a supervisor. In addition, funding is set up for a narcotics officer, which Beckett said could actually make money for the city, since drug busts usually generate revenue.

"Fayette County actually got a helicopter once," he said.

On the fire side, Beckett also broke out funds for a "mobile cascade" system, which fills oxygen tanks on scene. He said during the extreme heat of Georgia's long summers, such a device is key to keeping firefighters fresh.

Beckett was apologetic to council because with Milton's budget he could only offer a 2.5 percent pay increase for staff — 3.8 percent is the national average. And most of that would be swallowed up by health care increases, he said.

Council will pose its questions about the new budget at an early work session Sept. 8. There council and staff will likely tweak the budget until it meets everyone's approval.

"This is still a living document," said Finance Manager Stacey Inglis. "It's going to change based on any new information you bring to us or staff might have."

Milton Looks For Sewer Showdown


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Milton will take another stab at resolving the long festering conflict over sewer service in the city.

On Monday, the City Council will again take up the issue that has unseated incumbents, contributed largely to the resignation of a veteran city manager and dominated political discussion in this north Fulton community.

“I hope the odds are high we can settle this,” City Councilwoman Karen Thurman said. “There’s been a lot of legal expense surrounding this and an incredible amount of staff time resolving this. We need to figure out what our policy is and get moving.”

In Milton, limiting sewer has been used as a way to control growth. Some argue that sewer expansion brings density, which would ruin the country feel of the community. They say that allowing sewer service beyond where it is now would set a dangerous precedent that would haunt the city.

Others contend that such fears about sewer are unjustified for practical and financial reasons. They maintain that some sewer and commercial development in a narrowly defined area are needed for the tax revenue.

Waiting anxiously in the wings are several developers whose Milton projects are at a standstill until they are assured they can connect to county sewer. Some have indicated that if the situation isn’t settled soon, they will sue the city to force a resolution.

The primary point of contention is the definition of what constitutes extension of sewer service, said County Commissioner Lynne Riley. One camp maintains that any new sewer connections beyond those that currently exist is an extension of sewer. Others say sewer extension occurs only if sewer lines are run beyond the defined service area.

But the issue is muddied by indistinct service maps from the county, conflicting maps between the city and county, maps that conflict with the county’s sewer policies for the area and exceptions the County Commission made to its policies before the city was incorporated in 2006.
The sewer issue is so polarizing that two incumbents were voted out last year in part because they were deemed insufficiently anti-sewer. City Manager Billy Beckett, a veteran of 30 years of government management, tendered his resignation after five months on the job because of disputes with some council members, many of whom focused on sewer issues.

Monday’s meeting could settle the questions. The city attorney and planners worked last week to hash out yet another map to reconcile some of the conflicts.

“I think it could resolve 98 percent of the issues,” Councilman Bill Lusk said. “The city has had enough of this. Rather than complicate, delay, deny and extend the issue, it’s time to put it to rest.”

Late Land Deal Costs Fulton Schools $5M

Cost for Sandy Springs elementary school rises

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Fulton County school board let land for a new school slip from its grasp, only to pay nearly twice as much for it two years later, school records show.

The misstep cost taxpayers $5 million. And the price keeps climbing.

In a hurried closing last year, the school board paid $10.8 million for 24 undeveloped acres at Ison and Roswell roads. Two years earlier, an indecisive school board had dropped an option to buy the land for little more than half that amount.

The purchase included paying nearly $1 million to a developer so he would walk away from a sales contract he’d secured as the board was making its offer.

School board President Julia Bernath said hindsight makes it clear the district missed its chance to buy the land for less.

But she defended the purchase, saying the board couldn’t agree on the need for the school when the site was identified. By the time the board changed its mind, she said, Ison Road appeared the best buy.

“Even though the price had escalated, it still was far less than anything else we’d been able to identify,” she said. “We are trying to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

A series of questionable decisions plagued the board’s purchase:

• The district chose not to spend $10,000 to extend its option to buy the land. The additional time could have saved millions of dollars.

• The school board approved a purchase price without an appraisal to support it.

• The district paid $4.5 million more for the land than the seller had paid about six months earlier.

• The district took no steps to condemn the property — and ask a judge to determine its fair market value — even when facing the steep run-up in price.

The purchase illustrates the pitfalls public agencies confronted when vying with developers for large tracts in what was a hot real estate market.

Now, neighbors worried about school-related traffic are criticizing the purchase. Jim Ramseur, a real estate broker and neighbor who opposes the school, said taxpayers got a bad deal.

“The sheer fact that the school board paid 70 percent more for the same site that was purchased six months earlier, with no apparent justification, is appalling to all taxpayers,” Ramseur said. “Especially when they had control of the deal earlier for even less.”

Deal runs out

In 2004, Fulton school leaders knew Sandy Springs needed more classrooms. Unimproved land was hard to find, and the wooded Ison Road property stood out.

“We are anxious to put this under option as they received two more offers on Friday,” former school land agent James Haverstick wrote in a December 2004 e-mail.

The parcel was not ideal. A creek bisected it, and steep drop-offs would make extensive grading necessary. A gas pipeline about a half-mile away would require extra precautions. Architects said building costs would be “much higher than typical.”

The district already thought the asking price was high. “There was a little sticker shock in that,” Mike Russell, former associate superintendent for operations, said in an interview.

Yet with vacant land scarce, the district secured an option in December 2004 to buy the property for just under $5.8 million.

The new year ushered in turbulent times. In February, Superintendent Michael Vanairsdale stepped down amid an investigation into construction cost overruns and questionable accounting practices. The district froze construction spending.

With the Ison Road option running out, Haverstick recommended offering the owner $10,000 to extend the option three months.

Haverstick’s superior, former chief operations officer Robert Leon, e-mailed back a one-word response: “wait.”

Leon, who left the district to work as a civilian Army contractor in Germany, could not be reached for comment.

No other options

In the two years that followed, the district rejected all other potential sites for a new Sandy Springs elementary.

By the time Ison Road was back on the district’s radar, the landscape had changed. So had the price.

In October 2006, two development companies had bought the property. Summerall Development paid $5.8 million, then resold it the same day to Capital Design, which paid $6.2 million.

Capital Design planned to build a 48-home subdivision, said principal Donald Chapman.

By late March 2007, however, the board was finally ready to buy. The district approached the owners.

But Capital Design instead agreed to sell to developer Robert Donner’s company — a move that would cost the district nearly $1 million.

Donner had offered to close the deal in a month, a broker reported, while the district wanted two to three months. School officials scrambled, saying they could likely close more quickly. The broker offered to seek to terminate Donner’s contract.

Board attorney Bruce Dean warned officials they should negotiate the price with the current owner, not a potential future owner. “We need to see if we can avoid a ‘flip’ situation if possible because of past board experiences,” Dean wrote in an e-mail.

School officials knew rapid resales, or flips, can quickly escalate land values. Moving too slowly had cost them before.

In 2001, Fulton had paid $1.4 million — on top of the purchase price — to a developer that had secured deals to buy property before the district could purchase it for Alpharetta High School, records show.

Appraisals and offers

On April 10, the board authorized offering Capital Design its asking price of just under $10 million. The board typically would have a recent appraisal in hand before making the decision, but not this time.

A 2005 appraisal done for the district said the property was worth $6.2 million. But on April 20, the new appraisal came back at $4 million more — $10.2 million.

The new value was also $4 million more than what Capital Design had paid six months earlier.

Appraiser McColgan & Company explained the price increase as “changes in market conditions” and a zoning change allowing more dense housing.

But McColgan appraiser Mike Hunter said in a recent interview that the appraisal’s explanation for the price increase was incorrect. No rezoning had taken place since the previous sale.

Hunter said appraisers use standard explanations when reconciling a new value and a prior sale. The wrong explanation was used in the board’s appraisal, he said, but the value was correct.

The appraisal should have said Capital Design’s plan to build 48 homes had limited the land’s value, Hunter said. Its worth increased once Capital Design dropped that plan and other uses — such as more expensive homes — became possible.

“The report stands for itself,” Hunter said. “It’s supported.”

The school district never questioned the appraisal, he said.

With the price set, the district offered Donner, the developer, another $150,000 to $250,000 to step aside, e-mails show. But Donner declined, saying he would be giving up a larger profit from his planned subdivision.

The district raised the offer to $990,000. Donner accepted. The school board closed May 9.

In a recent interview, Donner said he was ready to move forward with a high-end subdivision, but the prospect of the district continuing to pursue the land helped convince him to sell the contract. “It was a business decision.”

Faced with the steep rise in price in a short time, the school board could have invoked its power to condemn property. A judge would have considered whether the price was fair for both the landowner and the district — and, by extension, taxpayers. While the district used eminent domain for another Sandy Springs site, it did not for Ison Road.

Bernath said the board is reluctant to use the power unless a seller balks.

“We had what appeared to be a willing seller,” she said.

The new school will relieve crowding at Sandy Springs schools, she said. A groundbreaking ceremony is set to take place this fall.

“We’re very excited about beginning construction,” she said.