Come January 2022, the City of Milton will have 3 new council members. Only the District 1 race is competitive, with 3 candidates vying for the honor and privilege of representing the fine citizens of Milton. Two candidates (for districts 2 and 3) are running unopposed.
Candidates would be well-advised to study some of the zoning battles that have been fought in Milton over the past 5+ years. I would recommend candidates begin their preparation with the battle over the “Conservation” Subdivision Ordinance (CSO). This was a long and sordid affair consisting of 3 acts. Failing to pass an ordinance, CSO proponents sought to achieve their goals through rezoning (of a property on Ebenezer Road) . . . the first of many successful rezonings, they hoped. And they did prevail in the initial Ebenezer Road rezoning hearing before City Council. However, the rezoning was vetoed (on procedural grounds) and the rezoning approval was reversed in a subsequent City Council hearing. This June 20, 2016 hearing brought out so many “conservation” subdivision opponents that a second room, with a video monitor, was established to hold the overflow. Ninety-nine citizens completed speaker cards and 1800+ citizens signed the Milton Coalition petition against the CSO. Not to be deterred by overwhelming citizen opposition, CSO proponents pursued a rearguard action to implement the CSO by promoting community septic for residential development—i.e., private sewer systems run by HOA! (Talk about your bad ideas . . . HOAs running sewer systems . . . what could go wrong?!?) However, CSO proponents also failed in this endeavor, finally retreating to the shadows. However, sensing an opportunity to resurrect “conservation” subdivisions, I suspect the CSO proponents will target Milton’s new council members, preying on their lack of historical context. With this in mind, I have reactivated my anti-CSO blog, which was active from November 2015 to May 2016. I have re-published (with some minor edits) a subset of the blog posts so that candidates (and citizens) can educate themselves on “conservation” subdivisions. Several hundred hours of research and analysis went into this body of work.
In closing, I must note that citizen opposition to the CSO in 2015-16 was based on theoretical arguments and anecdotal evidence from CSOs elsewhere in metro Atlanta. However, because the CSO and subsequent Ebenezer Road rezonings were both denied and the property (now called Sweet Apple) is still being developed, we now have empirical evidence that “conservation” subdivisions would have increased density in Milton. At various times, under AG-1 zoning rules, the Sweet Apple developer claimed the property could support (or under rezoning, he was approved for) 45, 48, 50, and 55 homes (although we definitively proved that percolation tests for individual septic systems would not support this number of homes). Well, it turns out that the site plan (under AG-1 zoning) for Sweet Apple shows only 34 home sites, compelling evidence that the proposed Sweet Apple “conservation” subdivision would have entailed a 32% to 62% increase in density (vs. AG-1 zoning density). Imagine such a density increase metastasizing across Milton through similar rezonings and the deleterious effects (e.g., increased traffic congestion).
(Note: The 2 lots at The Farm were not included in the original Sweet Apple property and hence are not included in the analysis of the rezoning homesites compared with AG-1 homesites.)
In addition to the CSO and (two) Ebenezer rezonings, candidates need to study other zoning battles (some were lost), such as the music venue approved (using 12 variances to bastardize a festival use permit) for the NW corner of Birmingham Crossroads; the abandonment of roads in Crooked Creek; the recent Painted Horse fiasco (Milton’s version of a Star Chamber); and, the special use permit and 15 (yes . . . 15 . . . a record in Milton) variances approved for Ashford Gardeners.
This is all to say to Milton’s City Council candidates: Beware of the tired, retreaded agendas being schlepped by Special Interests and their agents in Milton.
(Still) Advocating Against the CSO and For Smart Land Use,