Uniting the Community with Sensible Land-use Solutions (Republished Post from June 2016)

Following is a republished blog post from June 2016.  Too often, divisive battles at Council (that pit citizens against each other) result from poor decisions of staff and at Council.  The CSO was hugely divisive and wasted copious resources that would have been better deployed to other land-use issues.  Interestingly, the tree ordinance is mentioned in my below letter.  This was a land-use measure that should have enjoyed broad community support.  However, the tree ordinance was yet another instance of City staff/Council getting it wrong.  It took over 4 1/2 years to get an ordinance written and approved; there was much acrimony along the way.  And the shame of it is that the experience of the tree ordinance is typical of how things get done at City Hall.
Advocating for Government Competence,
Citizens of Milton
Following is a letter to the editor published in today’s Milton Herald.  You can read the letter below or click on the following link to the on-line posting of the letter:
There are plenty of land-use solutions that the community can rally around.  The focus going forward needs to be on those kinds of uniting solutions . . . and there are many.  In the coming days, we will focus on some of those solutions–some of which are mentioned below.  Citizens, thanks for your continuing support and sensibility about land conservation in Milton.  And thanks for tuning in.  Since we started blogging on behalf of Milton voters, our blogs have been viewed over 4,000 times.  Citizens are engaged and it is making a positive difference.

Uniting the community with positive land-use solutions

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016 12:00 am


Last week, Milton’s City Council denied rezoning of 745 Ebenezer Road which would have allowed cluster housing in one of the last truly rural areas of Milton. This action came after an initial approval on April 25th that was subsequently vetoed by the mayor. Denial also came after over 1,750 citizens, in less than four weeks, signed a Milton Coalition petition opposing key elements of the plan, including quarter-acre lots and community septic.

The reality is that Milton citizens are increasingly engaged on land-use issues. And increasingly, citizens are displeased with the city’s lack of progress in maintaining Milton’s rural character. For nearly two years, the city has obsessed over a single, controversial, developer-promoted solution for preserving land: conservation subdivisions. The first chapter was the drafting of a Conservation Subdivision Ordinance, which was denied by council last December, after strong citizen protest. The rezoning of 745 Ebenezer was the next chapter and an attempt to implement a conservation subdivision through rezoning and variances. Again, citizens protested (even more strongly) and the rezoning was defeated. Hopefully, the city will bow to the will of constituents and close the book on conservation subdivisions.

The tragedy in this saga over conservation is that the city has neglected other conservation solutions that citizens can actually rally behind. This includes toughening Milton’s tree ordinance, reforming Milton’s zoning process to make it more citizen-centric, and strengthening Milton’s current zoning laws. In fact, the Milton Coalition recently proposed changes to Milton’s Tree Ordinance after a comparison to other cities. These recommendations have been embraced by staff and hopefully will soon be presented to council. The Milton Coalition is also tracking a new rezoning on Donegal Lane, which we oppose, to document issues in our zoning process, with the goal of effecting positive changes in Milton’s zoning process.

Lastly, the Milton Coalition supports improvements in current AG-1 zoning, including incorporating the best ideas from the CSO. Rather than further battle over contentious land-use solutions, our City Council should focus on uniting the community through conservation initiatives that all citizens can embrace.

Tim Becker

Milton Coalition