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Alpharetta OKs more residential development

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Downtown residential development in Alpharetta

Members of the Alpharetta City Council have signed off on more housing for downtown, continuing a trend that has added close to 1,000 residential units to the district over the past six years.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta is in line for more residential development, following a trend that has made the city ripe for homebuilders.

The City Council passed three measures Nov. 15 that will allow construction of nearly 200 residential dwellings on a total of 20 acres in downtown and within the North Point Overlay District.

As available space for development shrinks, density in the downtown core and in other parts of the city has increased. Since the opening of City Center in 2015, Alpharetta has added close to 1,000 houses, townhomes, condos or apartments to its downtown core. In the past two years, the city has also opened up the North Point corridor for major mixed-use projects that include apartments and townhomes.

By far, the largest project up for consideration at the Nov. 15 meeting was a request to allow 90 detached, single-family homes on 14 acres at the corner of North Point Parkway and Kimball Bridge Road. The developer, Partners Empire Communities, won council approval for an amendment to the comprehensive land use plan allowing high-density residential on the site that had been assigned for corporate office use.

Plans call for allocating almost half the property for greenspace and preserving a wooded buffer along Kimball Bridge Road and North Point Parkway. Renderings show three-story homes with brick on the first floor.

According to the applicant, homes will be range in size from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet with prices starting in the $500,000–$550,000 range.

Alpharetta Senior Planner Mike Woodman said several residents raised concerns about stream and traffic impacts at the Sept. 7 community zoning meeting, and a number of neighboring businesses had written the city with the same concerns.

Woodman said the developer has agreed to go beyond the city’s requirements to ensure reduced stormwater runoff at the site and that a new drive along Rock Mill Road will provide access to the development.

City Council members were split on the plan.

Councilman Donald Mitchell said the development has gone through a number of iterations, and the latest provides for the least impact to the aesthetics of the area. He said the development will be a residential enclave secluded by woods.

Councilman Dan Merkel said he’s followed the project’s evolution for years. At one time, he said, a developer had proposed 65 homes on the site, but residents pushed back.

He said residential would be an appropriate use for the property compared to a five-story office building or some other commercial use.

But, Councilman John Hipes said he struggled with the plan because it called for a land use change.

He said less than two months ago, the council adopted its 2040 Land Use Plan, and the site was marked for commercial use.

“I think residential is a better use for this property, and I think it’s compelling to change the land use plan,” he said.

At the same time, Hipes said, the city has fashioned its land use plan from citizen input, hearing their concerns about traffic. He said he thinks the city is adjusting buffers to manufacture a brand new zoning category that allows for higher density than residents desire.

“We’ve changed all these things where we’ve had citizen input on,” Hipes said. “We’ve heard their concerns about traffic.”

The final vote to approve the development was 4-2, with Hipes and Mayor Jim Gilvin opposed. Councilwoman Karen Richard was absent.

Two other developments won unanimous council approval Nov. 15.

Mayfair on Main won approval for a rezoning to allow construction of 13 single-family, detached homes and 11 townhome units on just over 2 acres in the Downtown District at 217 South Main. The properties were previously developed and used for a strip shopping center and a dance school.

The city’s planning staff report says that while Mayfair’s density would exceed those approved in the Downtown since adoption of the Downtown Master Plan, there are other existing developments with higher densities.

The applicant’s proposed density of 10.4 dwelling units per acre exceeds the densities approved in the district since the approval of the Downtown Master Plan. However, Alpharetta Lofts has a density of 28.8 dwelling units per acre, and Teasley 3 Place has a density of 16 dwelling units per acre.

The council also approved an amendment to the comprehensive land use plan to allow Empire Communities to construct 58 townhomes on 7.35 acres at 3000 Hembree Road in the North Point Overlay. The property is currently undeveloped and sits at the northeast corner of Hembree Road and Morrison Parkway.

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