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Alpharetta Council OKs Mixed-Use Rezoning on Haynes Bridge Near GA 400

MetLlife's Peridot project given approval after a month's delay

It took Alpharetta City Council an extra month, but its members approved rezoning property on Haynes Bridge Road near GA 400 from office use to mixed use during its Feb. 28 meeting.

MetLife asked to rezone 47 acres of property next to its existing office buildings along Haynes Bridge Road and Lakeview. The City Council held its public hearing on Jan. 24, but put off a vote until this meeting.

The rezoning trades more than half a million square feet of office space for 470 residential condos and townhomes. The original zoning allowed more than 1 million square feet of office space, while this rezoning cuts that to a little more than 470,000 square feet. Community Development Director Diana Wheeler said it also cut almost 40 percent of the original retail, proposing 70,000 square feet instead of the 119,000 square feet that was allowed under the zoning for office use approved in 1988.

Multi-family residential units caught the ire of local residents opposed to the rezoning. A few of them saw the city's approval of the application as a move to urbanize Alpharetta so MARTA can expand its rail line to the city.

Comparisons to the problems of the bankrupt Prospect Park project, which has been a blot of clay and dirt on Alpharetta's landscape were made as well.

Councilman D.C. Aiken dismissed those concerns, saying the problems that failed project had led the council to put in conditions to "try to make sure that never happens again."

"The other thing is the partner, in this case, MetLife," Aiken said. "It don't get much deeper pockets than that, folks."

Mayor Arthur Letchas said though condos are not selling now, the developer will not be building for three or four years.

"They'd be foolish if they went out and started building this project now. And they are not going to do that," Letchas said.

"If everyone would just study this, it's a great project for Alpharetta," he said.

Alpharetta resident Jimmy Gilvin took the rare opportunity of a second round of public comment that the mayor allowed. He said the property as zoned for offices "would provide more than 3,300 badly needed jobs. It replaces 1,800 of those jobs with 500 condominiums. Why trade $123 million in salaries for 500 condos," he asked council.

"Tonight this city will decide whether to continue urbanizing the city of Alpharetta by adding more dense housing," Gilvin said.

Adding density in housing is just a move to urbanize and bring MARTA rail to Alpharetta, Gilvin said.

"I'm here to ask you to stop approving high-density housing," said Tom Miller, another city resident, "urban style housing project in your quest to bring MARTA to Alpharetta."

Councilman Doug DeRito said a possible run for mayor by him or any other candidate wouldn't influence their votes.

"I'm going to vote with my heart and what the right thing long-term is for the city," DeRito said.

DeRito said this is an opportunity to build the city's economy. Residents may not all like multi-use development, but the partner behind this project has been a great partner for the city. Looking at that, "this is a project that begs the support of the city."

Stacey Schechter March 01, 2011 at 06:48 PM
I am hopeful that projects like the Met Life Haynes Bridge rezoning will spark some interest at Prospect Park Is there any updated information regarding the status of the Prospect Park property?
Bob Pepalis (Editor) March 01, 2011 at 10:32 PM
The Prospect Park property was taken over by its major lender, Wells Fargo, after the owner went bankrupt. The property reportedly is for sale, according to published reports.
Bob Pepalis (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Juan, I'm glad you took the time to comment on this story, adding your opinion and voice to the issues in this rezoning and how they relate to the city. Let's just keep these discussions as civil as we can so everyone feels comfortable voicing his or her opinion, if you don't mind. What about the rest of you? What do you think about the City Council's decision and MetLife's plans for Peridot, the mixed-use project?
No Name March 15, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Read MARTA's Transit Oriented Development document, John. It contains the Rx detailing how Alpharetta must change their zoning ordinances to support heavey rail. Um, and now those things are coming to pass. http://www.itsmarta.com/north-line-400-corr.aspx Maybe your former constituency is just smarter than you wish they were? But if you choose to call the electorate "conspiracists," we'll make a mental note of that for your next run for office. The densities don't have to be on the same side of the street as the station, silly rabbit -- just within a certain radius. Read MARTA's document. BTW, Alpharetta's Community Development Director's quotes are contained within, so it is not like this any of this happened outside Alpharetta's knowledge. It is also no secret that the North Fulton CID that runs our city is behind MARTA either. NFCID is comprised of some of the developers that just got these big projects approved. Hmmm? Penn Hodge for Windward Mill. Paul Folger with MetLife. Now isn't that special? An open, public conversation with all the facts on the table is all the TAXPAYERS want. Remember, you are our REPRESENTATIVES. Public SERVANTS, not masters. If our community wants MARTA, then so be it. But we don't want a few elites or those on the take controlling our destiny. This is OUR town, not YOURS or that of any City employee. Got that? BTW, your last line sounds rather defensive. What's your stake in it, John?
Bob Pepalis (Editor) March 15, 2011 at 05:07 PM
I would ask that we keep the commentary civil. Personal attacks will not be tolerated, and will lead to all comments being cut off for this article.
No Name March 15, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Just want to make sure I got things straight. It's OK for a former representative to call former constituents "conspiracy" nuts and receive no admonishment from the news staff, but it is not OK for a citizen to use free speech to defend oneself from an ad hominem attack from a former public "servant" by playing his same game? Politicians used to be held to a higher standard and their job was to take the heat. That's back when they used to call them statesmen. The press used to vigorously support free speech with an especially keen interest at getting all viewpoints into the public forum. That was back in another era too. In case you didn't pick up on the subtlety, I purposely used "silly rabbit" to expose the unprofessionalism and hypocrisy of a former representative daring to call out a constituent in this way. He may be a private citizen at this moment but if he is going to go on the attack in this manner, I intend to defend myself. And if you don't want to publish this, I get it. You can ban me from your site if you'd like. It will tell me all I need to know.
GA Jim March 15, 2011 at 07:23 PM
John, once again you are completely wrong. I did not write the earlier comment and I don't appreciate you implying that I did. You really should be careful about running around making false charges against private citizens. It comes perilously close to slander.
Bob Pepalis (Editor) March 15, 2011 at 07:43 PM
I will be shutting down the comments shortly on this post because they have degenerated into personal attacks on both sides.
Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com March 15, 2011 at 08:48 PM
I would appreciate a factual and civil conversation with current or past council members on this issue. I hate that this forum is closing, but I'm sure there are other places we can take the conversation. I for one believe there is a connection (but not a conspiracy) between MARTA's TOD study, the CID's blueprint, the city's LCI at North Point and the high density zonings along GA-400. My name is S. Lee Guy. I'm a local blogger with nothing to hide. I'm not "No Name".

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