Milton City Hall

MILTON, Ga. — Land use is leading the discussion as residents weigh in on Milton’s 2040 comprehensive plan, a document that will guide development strategies in the coming decades.

Community Development Director Bob Buscemi said it is imperative that residents and stakeholders help formulate the plan.

“What is happening with the comprehensive plan is so important and exciting,” Buscemi said. “The exact recommendations are still to be determined, though there has been a lot of talk about taking steps to incentivize large lots.”

The city began courting developers to create residential lots of at least 3 acres beginning in 2018. Some enticements for meeting the 3-acre lot minimums include waiving curb and gutter requirements, allowing homes to be accessed by a shared driveway and loosened stormwater obligations.

Buscemi has repeatedly told the City Council and Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, comprised of local officials and residents, these incentives have been working to sway developers into creating larger lots. There is also demand among homebuyers for these sizeable lots, he added.

The advisory committee discussed earlier this month the possibility of creating more zoning categories for larger lots, and with them, more incentives to developers.

Though development is eminent, Buscemi said the plan can allow for “smart growth” while maintaining Milton’s unique character.

“People love Milton for good reason,” he said. “At the same time, all the things that make this city great also make more people want to live here. So, it’s a critical balancing act to manage this growth, so that, even as things change, Milton doesn’t lose the many things special about it that drew people here in the first place. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan can help in that regard.”

More mixed-use developments have also been discussed.

The city already has some mixed-use areas, particularly in downtown Crabapple, but the advisory committee has discussed at length the prospect of more “live, work, play” communities, particularly in the Deerfield Parkway area.

“While there’s little apparent appetite for high-density development, the sentiment seems to be that certain mixed-use developments can be valuable and viable in certain parts of Milton,” Buscemi said.

Another common theme that has stood out in the drafting process, Buscemi said, is the desire for more parks, both passive, likes trails and greenspace, and active areas that could include ballparks or other amenities.

While the city often touts its rural and equestrian heritage, talks have included branding specific areas in the city and its offerings to residents and outsiders.

“There seems to be interest in establishing Milton as a rural haven in Metro Atlanta with a strong equestrian community, one with easy access to great restaurants, shopping and more,” Buscemi said. “As the City grows, some have expressed a desire for adding more ways for people to enjoy nature as well as community gathering spaces.”

Buscemi said the next step in the process, the advisory committee’s May 6 meeting, is particularly important as it relates to land use. Officials will focus on land use and zoning recommendations during that meeting. Buscemi said is one of the best opportunities for the public to weigh in before a draft of the plan comes together.

Residents can also comment at the CPAC’s final work session on May 13, and there will be an “open house” event, likely at City Hall, on May 20.

Following those events, a drafted plan will be presented to the public. The city expects to finalize the plan in August.

Buscemi stressed the importance of residents providing their feedback because the document will guide the city to what it will “ideally look and feel like 20 years from now” through policies, priorities and potential projects.

“It’s not an end-all document, a lot of work still needs to be done [afterward],” Buscemi said. “Still, it serves as a critical guide to policymakers and City staff on what needs to be done to realize the vision laid out in the comprehensive plan.”

Joe Parker is an Editor with Appen Media Group and covers Milton, Forsyth County and high school sports.

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