Neighbors upset over ‘unknown’ new office

Claimed never warned of development

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The Alpharetta City Council does not look too kindly on developers who might not do their due diligence and notify neighbors of disturbances. That happened at the May 27 meeting where a proposed new business was tabled by council.

The property at 11681 Haynes Bridge Road is 1.6 acres of heavily wooded land that sits across the street from Rainwater Drive. It is adjacent to the Vantage Point neighborhood.

The owners of the land want to build a medical office on the land, 15,000-square-feet and two stories tall from the road. The applicant, a plastic surgeon, was seeking from the city a variance to remove some of the buffer area near the Vantage Point residents.

City code requires any variances to be communicated to nearby residents. Unfortunately, a breakdown in communication caused many of the residents to claim they never got the news that the woodland behind their homes would be torn down.

A letter was sent to the neighborhood homeowners’ association (HOA) explaining the development and asking for input. While the president of the HOA said the neighborhood was largely in support of the office building, many residents came up to speak to council saying they were never told. A vocal neighbor going door-to-door in opposition was the first time many heard of the planned development.

Many of the residents who spoke said they enjoyed the wooded view from their backyard and were concerned about the traffic and noise they would experience from the development.

“I realize you [the developer] did what you thought you should do, but sending out one notice to the entire condo association seems sparse,” said Mayor David Belle Isle. “There needs to be at least an attempt to contact the original homeowners and get some input.”

Councilmember Mike Kennedy said otherwise, saying it was up to the HOA to contact its residents.

“It’s up to the HOA in that case,” he said. “The HOA president has been meeting with them for months. It sounds like a communication problem.”

In the end, council agreed to postpone a decision on the development until June 16, in an effort to allow the residents to speak with the developer.

Councilmember D.C. Aiken said he would likely approve the measure when it comes back, regardless of resident concerns.

“It’s a great argument to keep trees where you have them,” he said. “In reality, that’s not going to happen in the long term. You are still going to see the next building from same street. And there is nothing we can do about it. The owner has the right to sell their property to the highest bidder.”