MILTON, Ga. – Milton City Council voted down a proposal to rezone land dedicated to commercial use into an apartment complex during its Sept. 5 regular meeting.
Crescent Resources applied to rezone 21 acres of designated office space into an upscale residential development with 256 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Concerned neighbors came out to speak against the addition of new apartments along the busy Deerfield Parkway corridor.
Traffic, property value and the additional strain on local schools stood out as the main concern of most citizens.
Dale Jackson, chairman of the Milton Business Alliance, spoke on his own behalf to share his concern over the long-term upkeep of this type of development.
“As the years go by, the property typically is resold and at that time the quality of the resident of the apartment goes down. The rental rates go down resulting in the potential undesirable element moving in,” Jackson said.
Laura Wysong, chair of Milton’s Design Review Board, also spoke on her behalf to express the need for more business in the city.
“I think we have to have [more commercial revenue] in order to survive as a city. We’ve got to find ways to generate more revenue, bring more business and bring more jobs,” Wysong said.
Following the public comments from citizens, Nathan V. Hendricks III, a Crescent representative, reiterated that current apartments in the area are occupied at a rate of 96 percent.
He also shared his doubts that any commercial development would be coming to the location any time soon.
“The market has spoken to the fact that there is no reasonable economic use for those properties as they are currently zoned.” Hendricks said after outlining Crescent’s previous attempts to commercialize the land over the years.
However, Councilmember Matt Kunz said he believed that keeping the land for commercial use will send a positive signal to Milton residents.
“We need our citizens to realize that we want them to be creative within our city limits as well, because that is the end zone for our growth and for our future,” Kunz said. “We believe in you by keeping this commercial land here.”
Councilmembers Joe Longoria and Karen Thurman echoed similar sentiments by discussing the council’s desire to make Milton a “live, work, play” community.
Thurman cited statistics showing Milton’s ratio of commercial to residential property is lower than surrounding cities with just 16 percent of its land devoted to office space.
“If we really want this to be a true live, work and play area, we have to have all aspects of that,” Thurman said. “I would just hate to take office space that could be used for either the work or the play and make it into more live.”
The wild card on the council was Councilmember Bill Lusk, who was crucially absent from the previous discussion on the topic, leading to a tie vote. At Wednesday’s meeting, he read a list of eight factors affecting the proposal, including the strain new residents would inflict on city resources, the limited supply of viable commercial sites in the city and the promotion of health, safety and general welfare.
In the end, the council struck down the proposal with a 4-3 vote, all the while reiterating the difficulty of the decision.
Members of the council who opposed were Thurman, Kunz, Lusk and Longoria. In favor were Joe Lockwood, Burt Hewitt and Lance Large.
“In looking at it, I wish they were building it somewhere else because we just cannot give up that commercial land we have,” Kunz said.