Alpharetta approves residential property over office

Residents fear traffic, school quality decrease

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – After three hours of discussion, the city narrowly approved in a 4-3 vote the application to build 91 residential units on 8.3 acres between Edison Drive and Webb Bridge Road.

On Jan. 27, more than 30 residents signed up to speak during the Alpharetta City Council meeting about the building proposal that amended the Windward Master Plan. It would change the land use from “corporate campus office” to “medium density residential.”

An overwhelming majoring of those speakers spoke in opposition of the application, citing traffic, school quality and negation of the city’s vision as the biggest issues.

“Our residents supported [us] because they believed we supported their vision, and what I see happening here tonight is we risk losing that trust,” said Councilmember Jim Gilvin, who voted in opposition.

If an office structure is built according to the original city land use plan – a plan drawn up every five years using citizens’ input to outline the city’s future development– some residents said the traffic would be too much, especially if a road is built connecting Edison Drive and Webb Bridge Road.

Residents complained that the school district is already overcrowded and adding more residential property could decrease the quality of education.

Councilmember Mike Kennedy motioned to approve the application with the condition that no connection between Edison Drive and Webb Bridge Road be built, and said a smaller residential area would be less impactful to traffic, schools and the natural habitat than an office structure. Councilmember Chris Owens agreed.

Gilvin wanted to substitute the motion and deny the application.

Councilmember Michael Cross said he did not support the application, because he believed an office structure’s economic development opportunity for the property was too high to ignore.

“I do think something is going to happen on this property one way or another,” said Mayor David Belle Isle in support of the substitute motion. “I believe this is the ‘Technology City of the South.’’

The substitute motion failed, and the first motion to approve the application to change the property to residential passed. Belle Isle, Cross and Gilvin opposed.

Also at the meeting:

Approved to raise the hotel/motel tax rate from 6 percent to 8 percent. Belle Isle said this only preserves the city’s option to raise taxes, and it does not mean they agreed to build a convention center at this time. It was passed in a 5-2 vote with Gilvin and Councilmember D.C. Aiken opposed.