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Milton approves larger lot width to preserve rural feel

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From left, Milton Planner II Michael Cardamon and Community Development Director Bob Buscemi answer questions from the City Council Nov. 7 regarding a text amendment that would increase lot width from 100 feet to 150 feet in agriculturally zoned districts.

MILTON, Ga. — To reduce the appearance of density, the Milton City Council unanimously voted Nov. 7 to increase the lot width requirement from 100 feet to 150 feet in agriculturally zoned (AG-1) districts.

While the lots will not increase in size, the revision will create more separation between homes, reducing the number of narrow lots to maintain the city’s rural character. To preserve the tree canopy, cul-de-sac lots in AG-1 zones will not be affected by the text amendment. 

The code revision was part of a 2040 Comprehensive Plan short-term work program and was touted as a priority in Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee meetings, with input from the Milton Planning Commission.

Milton Planner II Michael Cardamon, staff liaison to the Board of Zoning Appeals, said the increase in lot width would make properties more buildable and lower the number of appeals for zoning variances, looking to maximize a buildable area.

While there were no community members at the Community Zoning Information meeting in August, City Councilwoman Andrea Verhoff said her constituents had voiced concerns that the new required lot width would devalue their land.

Milton Community Development Director Bob Buscemi assuaged concerns saying the property value in Milton lies in maintaining the city’s rural look and feel. 

“The more we keep Milton, Milton, the more prices are going to go through the roof,” Buscemi said.

During public comment for the agenda item, Scott Reece with Brumbelow-Reese & Associates in Milton said the 100-foot lot-width requirement was inherited from an old Fulton County ordinance. Over his 40 years of work, he said he has observed drastic changes in the size and shape of houses and noted the smaller lot width was once a function of farms, for developments like 1,800-square-foot ranches and single-loaded garages or carports. 

He said his business hasn’t produced 100-foot-wide lots in a few years because his clients don’t desire them. 

In other action at the Monday night meeting, the City Council unanimously approved an 

intergovernmental agreement that would allow Forsyth County to provide water services to a tri-county development, parts of it in Milton.

Milton City Attorney Ken Jarrard outlined a section of the agreement that prohibits sewer in Milton sections of the subdivision. He also highlighted that Forsyth County will have control over water rates within the subdivision but that it cannot charge Milton residents more than its own residents. 

To answer previous council questions regarding Fulton County’s review of the IGA, Jarrard said Forsyth County commissioners have not yet approved the agreement, but he anticipates there will be no objection.

Reach Amber Perry at 770-847-8334. Follow her on Twitter @ambermarieperry