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Alpharetta Planning Commission recommends lower density for new subdivision


Sharp Residential seeking permission to build 108-unit neighborhood in northwest Alpharetta



November 08, 2012
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Sharp Residential Builders may be forced to further reduce the number of homes it seeks to build on a 78-acre parcel in northwest Alpharetta after the city's Planning Commission recommended a lower density on the parcel to align more appropriately with surrounding properties.

Sharp Residential, an Alpharetta-based builder headed by Tom Sharp, has filed an application with the city of Alpharetta to build 108 homes on two parcels of land, totaling 78 acres, in an area bounded by Bates, Mayfield and Providence roads. The homes are expected to begin in the high $400,000s up to $600,000 with square footage from 2,500 square feet and up.

The project is divided into two parcels – the Johnson Tract and the Bates Road Tract. Sharp had originally requested a change in zoning from primarily agriculture to as low as R-12 (12,000-square-foot lot minimums) for the majority of the subdivision to allow 130 homes. After meeting strong opposition early in the process, Sharp revised their application to R-15 (15,000 sq. ft. minimum), which dropped the total number of planned homes from 130 to 108.

The company may now need to lower the density even further after a vote by the Planning Commission last Wednesday recommended a zoning of R-22 (22,000 sq. ft. - or half-acre minimums) across the entire project. That recommendation will be forwarded to the Alpharetta City Council for consideration Nov. 26.

Kathi Cook, deputy development director for the city of Alpharetta, had recommended approval of the Sharp proposal as it was submitted to the Planning Commission, with several conditions pertaining to landscaping, buffers and berms and drainage. There was no mention of lower density in the list of conditions from Cook.

But two hours of a steady stream of voices urging 1-acre minimum lot sizes convinced the members of the Planning Commission to address the density issues and seek compromise between the neighbors and the developers.

Living primarily in the adjacent neighborhoods of Mayfield, Alpharetta Estates and Harrington Falls/The Oaks at Harrington Falls, the speakers urged the commission members to retain one of the few large parcels of northwest Alpharetta for estate-style developments and larger homesites.

"While I fully support continued development, I am concerned with the impact and aesthetics [of this proposal]," said Tim Barnes. "[I believe] we can come up with a compatible plan that would not be so visibly jarring to the area we love so much."

Because of the lack of sewer connections in the area, many nearby homes are on septic systems which require a 1-acre-lot minimum. With the exception of a handful of parcels in the proposed Sharp development, all homes will have sewer access, allowing a higher density.

One condition that received universal skepticism from both neighbors and developer was the city's requirement for a transportation roundabout at the intersection of Bates and Mayfield roads.

"In my opinion, it's a solution looking for a problem," said Marc Acampora, the traffic engineer who performed an analysis of the roadway for Sharp Residential.

After discussion, the Planning Commission changed the "will be constructed" to "may be constructed" pending further review by the city's engineering department. The traffic plan showed the intersection capable of handling the additional traffic from the subdivision with only the addition of a left-turn lane from Mayfield onto Bates Road; which Sharp has agreed to install.

If approved, Sharp intends to begin construction immediately with a completion date in three years.

Sharp Residential Builders has been in business for 18 years and has built, or is in the process of completing 15 neighborhoods primarily in north metro areas, according to its website. The homes are generally in the $300,000-$400,000 range, although the builder also builds townhomes that start at a lower price point.

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