Avalon can't be built with the conditions recommended by the Alpharetta Planning Commission, according to Mark Toro, managing partner of North American Properties in Atlanta.
But Toro said he was glad the application to amend the Prospect Park master plan had moved forward after the vote at City Hall. It is scheduled to be heard by City Council on April 23.
Planning Commissioner Nancy Bristol took the lead on how the board approached the conditions suggested by Community Development staff on which North American Properties didn't agree. The biggest was allowing any rental units on the mixed-use development.
Avalon is planned to have 132 for sale units–mostly townhomes–and 250 rental units, all of which would be above the retail. Planning Commissioners didn't accept the argument that these for rent units were that different from apartments. Bristol added a condition that requires transferring development rights from other developments to build here.
"For rent residential units shall require and be limited to transference of existing approved for rent zoning from other Alpharetta locations and shall not exceed 250 units or the number of transferred for rent units, whichever number is smaller," Bristol said.
"I think this is an ideal place for apartments. And the reason I want to put that in there about the transference is because there is great concern about adding to the inventor of for rent zoning in the city of Alpharetta," Bristol said. "We have an 85/15 ratio, which we are completely over right now.
Bristol said regular residents of Alpharetta are against more for rent units in the city.
Toro wasn't happy with the conditions, but was glad to get a recommendation to approve the project.
"As Commissioner Bristol correctly points out, as she hopes that the City Council refines the conditions, we agree wholeheartedly. A lot of refinement is necessary for us to move forward," Toro said.
"And we're prepared. This is the next step in the process. We are excited to be past this step and on to City Council so we can get the approvals we need and go build it," he said.
"The challenges we have are relative to restrictions of uses and restriction of trade, that's the challenge," Toro said.
"We are ecstatic to have a unanimous approval," he said.
Bristol and other commissioners said the Avalon site plan went against city code in calling residential amenties "public space," as the Unified Development Code specifically prhobits that. She also pointed out the staff comment in the application report that the bike trail along GA 400 proposed by the city must be built and given to the city before that land could be considered public space.
She also added that sidewalks in front of stores can't be counted as public space, which would reduce the amount of public space for Avalon in its Plaza and the Boulevard areas. Both are close to the width and length of a football field, but this would reduce those dimension by 16 to 18 feet.
Commissioners Jill Reynolds and Will Gurley had problems with a staff condition that limits Avalon from adding more than 15 percent of its retail with stores moving from North Point Mall. Reynolds said she had problems with restraint of trade with the limitation. But both said before the vote that they'd probably accept Bristol's change from staff's 10-year limit to three years.
"Ten or fifteen years from now when this is not the latest or greatest, I would hope that we could protect North American Properties in some way so that they did not become a skeleton. We certainly do not want to have a skeleton mall that we have ot live with," Bristol said.
"I think that's a point well taken, said Commissioner Chairman Michael Tomy.
Reynolds said she would compromise on this point because, as Commissioner Francis Kung'u said previously, that it's protecting Alpharetta.