MILTON, Ga. — The City of Milton has wrapped up more than a year-long effort to create a comprehensive plan which outlines goals and measurable action items for the next two decades.
After praising city staff and residents for their hand in creating the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the City Council voted unanimously Oct. 4 for its adoption.
Community Development Planner Jackie Lim said the planning process began in August 2020, followed by a public kick-off meeting in December and public engagements that ran through July of this year. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Atlanta Regional Commission then reviewed and approved the plan in August.
Now, Lim said, the city will begin working on the short-term work program, which turns the document into deliverable actions.
There are 27 projects in the program, all associated with land use, economic development, transportation, sustainability, natural and cultural resources, placemaking and branding. Lim said the goal is to complete the projects within the next five years.
However, before it was adopted, two Milton residents said they were concerned about the initiatives in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan for the Arnold Mill area. John Zaworski, who owns property there, said he wanted to see it kept as a commercial node and not turned into an area for agricultural or equestrian uses.
“I’m here to ask the council to adopt some of these edits that we’ve suggested or delay this vote to a point where we can have some time to discuss this specific node … to be a better representation of how this corridor has been treated for the last eight years and three different studies,” Zaworski said. “It’s just a little concerning.”
Councilwoman Lauren Bentley pointed out that the very first work program calls for creation of a “small area plan” for the Arnold Mill area that will involve research and analysis by city staff. It will also ask for input from stakeholders, including property owners, before the City Council decides whether to adhere to the plan.
Community Development Director Robert Buscemi said the last time they made a small area plan for the Arnold Mill area was in 2014 and that he was aware it had changed significantly since then.
“We’ll see what makes sense for that corridor,” Buscemi said.
Overall, Buscemi said he thinks the comprehensive plan shows the strength of Milton and its citizens.
“This is not something that any one person has done,” Buscemi said. “It’s citizens and staff and council. It’s just been really a collective effort.”
Despite a rough start, Councilman Paul Moore and Bentley, ex-officio members of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, said they were pleased with how the plan turned out.
“We were able to rise like a phoenix from the fire and now deliver a tremendous product,” Moore said. “I think it is in keeping with where Milton has intended to go but also prepared us for the next stage of Milton.”
Bentley said she couldn’t wait to start prioritizing projects for 2022. She also said the process had served to remind them of the existing demand for people to live in Milton.
“We must never forget why Milton is special and how we got here,” Bentley said. “The foundation of our community is high standards, and we have done a great job on land use, and we’ve held the line. So, part of our learning process was to remember that and not forget that we didn’t build to demand. We have a land-use policy that is very predictable, and our property owners love that because they invest a great deal in our community.”
To view the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, visit the City of Milton website.
In other business at the meeting, the City Council approved a 120-day moratorium on new alcohol applications for craft beer, wine markets, limited tap establishments and limited-service restaurants.
Assistant City Manager Bernadette Harvill said she and the City Council had an in-depth discussion at a Sept. 20 meeting about possibly updating the city’s alcoholic beverages code so they can consider “some of the newer concepts” they have been seeing.
Currently, she said, those concepts do not qualify as traditional eating establishments. The moratorium will allow city staff to preserve and maintain the status quo while giving them time to draft amendments to the alcoholic beverages code.
The moratorium does not apply to businesses that are renewing their licenses, are already licensed, or those that have been working with city staff on alcohol applications before the Oct. 4 City Council meeting.