Milton Turns Down Deerfield Apartments
The City Council on a split vote rejected an apartment zoning request by Crescent Resources.
The Milton City Council split in a vote on a Deerfield Parkway apartment rezoning, with the 4-3 vote denying the 256-unit apartment complex application.
Council members opposed to the rezoning didn't want the city to lose what little commercial property that is left for development. Only 114 acres of property would remain that would allow uses such as retail and office if the 21-acre property had been rezoned for the residential use.
The property is located on Deerfield Parkway next door to the office park where City Hall can be found, and is across the street from a Verizon Wireless office building. Walmart and Fry's Electronics are to the rear of the property.
City Council Vote
|Against Rezoning||For Rezoning|
||Mayor Joe Lockwood|
|Bill Lusk||Lance Large|
Crescent Resources wanted to build 12 units per acre on the property, and promised to build only one- and two-bedroom units to help keep the number of school children who might live in the complex low.
City Attorney Ken Jarrard answered questions about the economic burden Milton would face with the development. He said City Council could not base its decision solely on whether it was a financial burden on the city.
When Councilman Bill Lusk made his motion to deny the rezoning, he included eight reasons, starting by saying the property as already zoned is reasonable and beneficial to the property owners. While he did claim the costs to the city would be higher than the benefits, he had plenty of other reasons to deny, including saying it was up to City Council to make sure its action don't hurt the sustainability of Milton.
"Our position is to look 10 ad 20 years down the road," Lusk said, "and are we going to be sustainable if we give up with commercial space, this commercial land? I don't think it is the proper stewardship to be doing something like that."
"If we really want this to be a live/work/play area, we have to have all aspects of the live/work/play," said Councilwoman Karen Thurman. She said the two missing aspects are the work and play.
Councilman Lance Large didn't agree with Lusk and Thurman. He said he feels that the city may have property zoned for commercial use, but City Council needs to create an environment that allow them to market the remaining undeveloped property. The 114 acres of commercial property that would have been left was enough for 1.2 million square feet of commercial space, either office or retail, he said.
Mayor Joe Lockwood supported the rezoning. He thought it would invigorate the immediate area, where retail is hurting. He said city staff told them the property is too small for a true live/work/play development.
"I personally have a problem telling the property owner what to do with this property," Lockwood said.
His concerns also include the anticipated legal costs he expects the city to incur after denying the zoning.
Before City Council made its decision, they again heard from some city residents who opposed the rezoning.
"I want to see more business revenue in our city," said Laura Wyssong, who lives in Crooked Creek. "I think we have to have it in order to survive as a city."
Joy Ferguson of The Villages of Devonshire, which is across Deerfield Parkway from City Hall, said she and her neighbors opposed the rezoning for apartments.
"We live in a condominium development and are very concerned about the property values – that and traffic, as well as we really would love to brig jobs in the area," Ferguson said.
She said the city could support the community more by bringing in work for the people already in Milton, and taking away the commercial zoning stops that from happening on this property.
Dale Jackson of Bethany Way had got the ball rolling on citizen comment, saying he opposed reducing the already limited amount of property that can still be used as commercial.
"I don't believe this is the highest and best use for this property in the city of Milton as far as taxation goes," he said.