Legal action threatened over Milton development

Residents challenge city’s approval of mixed-use complex



MILTON, Ga. — Residents along Knightsbridge Way in Downtown Crabapple are continuing their six-month fight to challenge a development approved just behind their homes. The residents – some living in Alpharetta, some in Milton – have hired legal counsel and have threatened suit if the City of Milton does not overturn its decision through the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Knightsbridge occupants are challenging Milton’s approval of the mixed-use development, stating it does not meet the Crabapple form-based code. The city enacted a moratorium to review the code in June following the residents’ concerns, but later lifted it without any changes. A caveat was placed in the moratorium stating if the development was improperly submitted, the city could re-review it. However, the city staff found no issues.

Roger Bauer’s home sits just beyond the site for the proposed development in Alpharetta and his back yard serves as a border between the two cities.

Bauer said he and his neighbors have been pleased with what he called the “smart” development of Crabapple. However, they take issue with the development slated for just behind their homes which they say presents safety and privacy issues, as well as plummeting property values.

“My neighbors and I have lived here for up to 20-plus years and we are simply looking for a development that is compatible with the immediate area,” Bauer said. “However, this development is predominately commercial and doesn’t fit in with the surrounding residential areas of Alpharetta or Milton.”

“While we encourage the redevelopment of this property, we believe that this development does not comply with the Crabapple Form Based Code and it constitutes a taking of our properties’ values,” Bauer said.

The residents argue that the city’s zoning of the property provides for mostly residential use, yet the development is 86 percent commercial by square footage. It includes two buildings totaling over 17,000 square feet with residential, office and retail uses, including a proposed 24-hour CrossFit gym.

“Staff should require that at least more than 50 percent of the area to be developed as residential to ensure the area in mainly residential and compliant with the code,” the residents’ appeal states.

They have previously argued that the developer has not provided a significant buffer between the property and their homes, which will be as little as eight feet in some places.

During discussions over the moratorium, the city stated the form-based code allowed for walkability in Downtown Crabapple and the buffers would inhibit that design.

But that is far too close for the residents. Though Milton prides itself on its quality of life, this development would adversely affect that of the neighboring homes, Bauer said.

“The City of Milton has swung the pendulum too far in favor of the development community,” Bauer said. “It’s time to strike the right balance.”

The Knightsbridge residents will challenge the city at the Dec. 19 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting to reverse the approval of the concept plan.

At the Dec. 5 Design Review Board meeting, the committee approved a land disturbance permit for the development, contingent on the outcome of the BZA meeting.

Bauer said he and his fellow neighbors will request that no permit is granted until a “compliant plan is approved.”

“We also hope that our experience can be channeled into positive changes for our community as other parcels are developed,” he said.

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