Milton City Hall

MILTON, Ga. — Milton officials are considering creation of an “urban growth boundary” to curb dense sprawl from infringing on rural or lightly developed areas of the city.

The discussion at the Milton City Council’s May 10 meeting related to the city’s 2040 comprehensive plan, which is currently being drafted to outline goals, initiatives and the future “look and feel” of the city.

Through discussions among the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, Milton officials have presented a concept of an urban growth boundary that will outline areas of the city where more dense developments could crop up.

In a presentation to the council, Community Development Director Bob Buscemi said Milton’s boundary could “prevent higher density development encroaching on our more rural, agricultural and equestrian areas.”

“If you apply an urban growth boundary to your city, and you define where that growth is limited, then it double-strengthens the fact that somebody can’t come in for a rezoning and ask for an extension for more density,” Buscemi said. “[The developer] would have to go back and look at the urban growth boundary, and if it doesn’t allow it, it would be a whole process on how to change it, which wouldn’t happen very often.”

The city, in effect, already has a growth boundary through its sewer map and rules in place on extending sewer service.

But looking far ahead to its future, the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee and city staff are considering the fallout if its sewer map safeguard was no longer applicable. Buscemi presented a scenario in which the state could force Milton to extend its sewer lines in the decades ahead.

“Then all of a sudden, our line of demarcation…has evaporated, just like that,” he said. “And it could happen so quickly.”

In that case, Milton’s urban growth boundary would provide “another layer of protection” against unwanted growth.

“But the concept would be that it would be a really strong layer that says, no, you can’t develop past this boundary,” Buscemi said.

There are other outside factors, too, Buscemi said. He used the example of the northeast corner of Milton’s sewer map. That area is serviced by Forsyth County lines.

“It’s showing even external pressures that have been placed on the City of Milton,” he said.

Buscemi was adamant the move would not impact any current property rights.

The city has presented a drafted urban growth boundary, which follows the lines of its sewer service map. However, Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee Chair Todd Chernik said that map could be adjusted with further discussion.

City staff and the advisory committee are expected to continue their discussions on a potential Milton urban growth boundary before the full comprehensive plan draft is presented to the City Council in the coming months. The council is expected to vote on the drafted plan this fall.

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

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