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Milton to see housing boom in 2014

Grapples with population, development growth

"There has been a pent-up demand."
Kathleen Field,
Milton community development director
December 23, 2013
MILTON, Ga. – Anyone driving through Milton's back roads may have seen an unusual amount of building activity. According to the city, this construction will continue and expand in the coming year.

According to numbers provided by Kathleen Field, Milton's community development director, there are 896 new homes either under review, under construction or seeking rezoning.

Most of the properties seeking rezoning are along Milton's southern edge, especially Ga. 9

These numbers for new homes to be completed in 2014 are triple 2013's numbers. In all of this year, there were 279 residential permits given. That number is in itself nearly three times the number of permits given in 2010 (103).

With these new homes, the city expects the population to jump from 34,588 this year up to 37,008 next year, an increase of nearly 2,500 people.

"It's because of the depression we had," said Field. "There has been a pent-up demand."

People want to come to Milton, she said, and now they have the chance.

This should come as no surprise. Milton is frequently touted as a rural, restful community of horse farms and quiet country roads. It has one of the highest median home prices in the Atlanta area.

Milton was named "best quality of life" in Georgia and ninth highest in the Southeast by the Business Journals' On Numbers Survey.

"This kind of honor just fuels the desire of people wanting to move here, as we all have chosen to do so at some point," wrote Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood in a recent letter to the community.

However, the city cannot simply close its borders to all newcomers, nor can it forbid residents selling their land for new development.

The trick is finding a way to make sure the developments coming in conform to what Milton wants to be in the future. With all the open space replaced with single family homes, what happens to that "rural" feel that drew people in the first place?

Part of the problem, said Lockwood, was that properties that meet all the legal requirements do not have to go through the same public scrutiny or come before the City Council. If land is allowed to have 50 homes built on it, it can. And the builder does not need to tell his neighbors about it.

Field says there is an array of options to help mitigate the issues.

The city could require setbacks from the road to be increased, limiting the views of endless houses, replacing that view with trees and shrubs.

Conservation subdivisions are another option. Developers would set aside a portion of their land as green space. That green space could be required to be at the entrance of a neighborhood.

There are no conservation subdivisions in Milton.

The transfer of development rights is also an option. This gives developers the chance to trade density in one area of the city for another. Instead of building 60 homes on Birmingham Highway, they might be able to build apartments along Ga. 9, saving the rural parcel.

The issue with conservation subdivisions and the transfer of development rights options is they are voluntary. The city cannot force builders to use them.

Field said the city needs to find ways to better promote and encourage developers to use these options.

Editor, Milton Herald
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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    growth in Milton
    December 27, 2013 | 10:18 AM

    IMHO, the city needs to look aggressively at greenspace planning and land conservation options. Many cities have grappled with some of the same issues and have effectively addressed them However, this will take the city officials publicly adopting focus on land conservation and asking the citizens to help with funding. Conservation subdivisions are also very important, but we need to be assertively looking to prevent developments by acquiring land. There are public and private ways to do this. I do hope city officials are actively addressing this area. So far approaches to preserving the city's rural identity have been far too passive. In addition,we now can see that simply blocking the sewer and blocking any rezoning out of AG-1 zoning are very limited ways to help our city. Low density is fine, but focusing on it alone, gives us no proactive ways to shape the inevitable growth that is descending upon us.

    Laura Rencher
  2. report print email
    More growth. Great.
    December 29, 2013 | 04:39 PM

    "People want to come to Milton, she said, and now they have the chance. This should come as no surprise. Milton is frequently touted as a rural, restful community of horse farms and quiet country roads. It has one of the highest median home prices in the Atlanta area."

    Wonderful. Just what we need. More housing development. Well that cat's out of the bag now. How ironic all these people (whoever they are) want to move to a "quiet" location. They'll be the first to complain in a few years over the strip malls, convenience stores, massage parlors, and traffic congestion they helped to create. You see it happen to every once-remote outpost in Cherokee, north Fulton, and Forsyth counties. Is there any place people are safe from the growth anymore?

  3. report print email
    Too Much Growth
    January 07, 2014 | 10:42 AM

    I live and work around Holbrook Campground and Campground Rd, and the amount of land being cleared for development within say .. 5 miles of me is really startling. I shudder to think of the traffic nightmares, school congestion and overall quality of living in this area .. and oh yeah .. didn't we just have a housing bubble? Can we put just a couple more years between bubbles please?

  4. report print email
    No Thanks
    January 08, 2014 | 08:46 AM

    The recent trend is alarming in my opinion. Residents MUST speak up and vote or Milton will look like Roswell in 5-10 years and the homes here will be worth half or third of what they are today. Developers pushing plans 2X, 3X, 4X the agreed norm and it would appear getting council support is not what I consider to be proper governance. Many of these rezoning plans appear to have come right at the busiest time of year when everyone is getting ready for the holidays. Coincidence?

  5. report print email
    Subdivision Nitemare
    January 08, 2014 | 11:45 AM

    I find it amazing how they just keep building subdivision after subdivision further and further out, clogging roads more than they already are. Where is the smart growth? Where is the planning around here? What should be happening is planning for more intown density. People say its the quality of life...quality of life is not sitting in your car 4 hours a day commuting. More and more people are looking for intown places to live, younger people and empty nesters don't want to live out there anymore. Look at Alpharetta, its one big ant hill every morning and evening. I'd rather walk down the street for a show or dinner than sit in my car for 2 hours going home. Most major cities are seeing this trend grow. When is Atlanta finally going to get it?

  6. report print email
    Please PLAN for GREENSPACE!
    January 12, 2014 | 01:45 PM

    I've lived up north, and in the south, in areas similar to Milton (been in Milton for a little over a year) and what attracted me to the area was the quiet rolling hills, the lack of traffic (except during school and rush hour) and the dead quiet at night.

    Do NOT let developers destroy this beautiful area, if give a chance, they will use up EVERY square inch of land to line their pockets. THEY DON'T CARE!

    It's up to us, up to council and our elected officials to take a stand and preserve space. Keep things they way they are. There are enough homes for sale to allow people who want to come here to come here.. we don't need new development, crammed in, at lower values so people can come here. If they can afford it, they can afford the homes for sale now. We don't need 2,500 NEW people crowding the area, roads, and the associated infrastructure that would need to be built to support that.

    It is a MISTAKE that I've seen happen again and again. PLEASE stand up everyone, and press your officials, or boot them out if they don't stand up.

    Do NOT let this Happen
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