Following is a republished post from July 2016. At the time, there was a lot of criticism of AG-1 zoning from proponents of cluster housing in Milton. However, AG-1 zoning actually protects Milton . . . if it is enforced. And it is that enforcement that is a problem. Staff is often lax in enforcement, and City Council, through granting of copious variances, also had eroded AG-1 protections for citizens. As noted in my blog below, the City would is better advised to enhance AG-1 zoning, strengthen Milton’s tree ordinance, and re-engineer the entire zoning process to make it more rigorous and tougher for developers. Some modest AG-1 enhancements have been made. The tree ordinance was eventually strengthened, but it took 4+ years to finally approve an ordinance. And absolutely nothing has been done to reform the zoning process and make it more rigorous and fairer to citizens . . . NOTHING, despite 1900+ citizens signing a petition specifically demanding such reform. (The below photos were taken on my property in Milton.)
At the June 20th City Council meeting, speaker after speaker in favor of “conservation” cluster housing cited the evils of AG-1. As if reciting a mantra, cluster housing proponents repeatedly spoke of “clear-cutting” and “cookie cutter” lots and properties in AG-1 subdivisions. We found this interesting in that quite a few of these speakers live in AG-1 subdivisions and many of them are quite nice . . . or at least we think so. We also found the criticism interesting in that the City has never made a serious attempt to reform AG-1 to make it better. Furthermore, many speakers seemed unaware that AG-1 explicitly forbids “clear-cutting.” Perhaps Milton has an enforcement issue. Perhaps staff does not have the resources to enforce AG-1’s provisions. Or perhaps the penalties for violating AG-1’s provisions need to be increased. Rather than cluttering Milton’s Code with new zoning ordinances that would not be enforced or approving complex rezonings that staff cannot manage, the city should focus on toughening existing ordinances, including AG-1 and our tree ordinance. And furthermore the City should re-engineer the city’s entire zoning process to make it more rigorous and tougher on developers.
The truth is that there are many beautiful AG-1 subdivisions in Milton. The many thousands of Milton residents that live in AG-1 subdivisions are proud of their homes and their properties. They do not view AG-1 as evil and they do not view their homes as cookie-cutter. Many residents have bought or created unique properties in AG-1 subdivisions. We strongly believe that AG-1 is compatible with land conservation and protecting wildlife. Following are photos of one property in an AG-1 subdivision. Does this property strike anyone as cookie-cutter?