Residents given options on ‘greenprint’ preservation

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MILTON, Ga. – In an effort to explain the options available for preserving the city’s green space, Milton had an open house meeting July 30 about its greenprint plan.

Tom Daniels, a professor and conservation planner at the University of Pennsylvania, was hired to draft the plan and spoke about what the city could do to preserve green space. About 100 people attended the meeting to hear what Daniels had to say and to give comments about their concerns.

“The turnout was a good indication about how much people care about this. I think it’s part of the city’s education to landowners that the city can give options to them,” Daniels said.

During the meeting, residents were given a greenprint project questionnaire to fill out. The form asked basic questions such as in which area of Milton do residents live, would they like to see the Milton trail system improved and what role does Milton City Council play in green space preservation.

Preservation is tricky business. It can be difficult for a landowner to think about preservation when developers offer them a fortune to buy their land and develop all of it.

“If you want to use land preservation as a growth tool, be strategic about it,” Daniels said.

The issue of preservation came to a head earlier this year, when new housing developments sprang up seemingly overnight. Fearing over-construction, residents began asking the city what can be done to stem the flow of new housing and neighborhoods.

The Milton City Council wants to spread the word to landowners that they have options other than selling the land outright.

These options could be setting aside land to stay undeveloped, creating a conservation easement in perpetuity, a transfer of development rights or limiting development.

All of these options have ups and downs, but they all pertain to limiting the amount of development on a property, possibly limiting its value. Daniels cautioned the group about jumping to one option over another.

“These are not options to maximize the income from your land,” said Milton resident Jack Lindon. “These are for those who want to keep the land rural.”

Daniels agreed, saying some of the best efforts to preserve land has come not from governments but from neighbors banding together to buy or conserve their properties.

Joan Borzilleri, a member of the Preserve Rural Milton organization, said she was pleased with how the meeting proceeded.

“It was informative and people had many questions. [Daniels] had a wealth of practical experience, not just hypothetical,” Borzilleri said. “I’m pleased this is all a voluntary program. I think it’s a win-win situation.”

Daniels will present his survey and results to the City Council in September.

Milton residents can find the form online at cityofmiltonga.us. Just search “destination conservation,” and click on “Greenprint process.” Form submissions are due by Aug. 15.

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