ALPHARETTA, Ga. — In a 5-2 vote, the Alpharetta City Council approved renewing their North Point LCI five-year plan at the Sept. 24 council meeting.
The Atlanta Regional Commission established the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) program to encourage the development of plans that link transportation improvements to land use projects. The ARC’s objective was to encourage and support sustainable and livable communities that complement regional development policies.
In short, mixed-use projects with more public transit options.
The area of study is generally between Mansell Road to the south, Haynes Bridge Road to the north and between Westside Parkway and North Point Parkway to the west and east. The largest project in the near future is the widening of the Encore Parkway bridge over Ga. 400. Bike lanes and new bus shelters are also planned. Alpharetta Council approved the overall plans late last year, before many members of the current council took their seats.
While the plan is to make improvements to transportation and infrastructure in the area, it also calls for higher density housing than is typical in the rest of Alpharetta, and that has irked some on council.
Wider roads and some moderately sized mixed-use developments (such as the new Avalon development) do not necessarily mean very high density, said Councilman D.C. Aiken, but some developers have tried to use the plan as justification to present projects he said are against what fits best for Alpharetta.
“People use that to try and bring in high density development,” Aiken said. “Is that what you want Alpharetta to be? If the answer is yes, then you’d support the LCI study.”
He said most of the residents of Alpharetta are against high density development. Aiken supported the LCI plan when it was first adopted.
“It makes traffic worse and negatively impacts schools,” said Jim Gilvin, the other member of council to vote against the plan. “I was against it as a citizen, and I am against it as a council member.
“The problem is what I see written here was implemented in ways I never anticipated,” he said. “I don’t want to see this document used to justify projects I abhor.”
The mixed-use projects already on the books need to be built before any new ones should be added, said Mayor David Belle Isle. But the council has only so much wiggle room with the ARC.
“The ARC has certain goals and guidelines, and there are a lot of strings that are tied to whether you are in agreement with those goals,” Belle Isle said.
The upside of working with the ARC on those goals is the city opens itself up to getting state and federal grants for projects. Money for projects like the Encore Parkway bridge expansion could stop flowing if the council did not approve the resolution at their meeting.
“If we had voted it down last night, then our funding for that project would have stopped,” the mayor said.
While the city can change any aspect of the plan, Belle Isle said any revisions would not be done on a whim.