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Alpharetta Planning Commission Rejects More Apartments

Amil Residential's request to make master plan and zoning changes to allow the 300-unit apartment complex just north of the Avalon site goes to City Council with a recommendation for denial.

Members of the Alpharetta Planning Commission had few questions, and even less discussion about the proposed Amli apartment development on Westside Parkway during a public hearing on Thursday, May 3.

The Planning Commission, meeeting at , wasn't swayed by arguments Philip N. Tague, executive vice president for Amli Residential, made to justify approving an amendment to the Webb Bridge master plan to allow apartments and the rezoning needed from Office and Industrial to R-10 (high density residential).

Amli did not offer to attempt to transfer development rights from another property to this site. Tague said they wouldn't compete with Avalon on this, which he said will have a hard time reaching its goal with the few units available.

Tague said the topography and streams bisecting the 30-acre tract make it impossible to build anything other than residential on the site. Office buildings need too big of a footprint to meet buffer requirements.

Alpharetta needs to look at its 85/15 for sale to for rent residential ratio, Tague said. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan looks to have a diversity of housing. Avalon alone can't handle the growing demand for apartments, he said.

"I think that Alpharetta may endanger its status as a desirable place of employment if the 85/15 separation causes there to be such a paucity of apartment units relative to employment," he said. Employers at these companies that are desirable for the community might not be able to keep employees who have to make a long commute.

Amli's two existing multi-family developments in Alpharetta effectively have no vacancies, he said. And the new Amli at North Point south of Mansell Road already has 30 units leased even before it gets its certificate of occupancy, expected in June, he said.

Rent rates will be increasing by 5 percent each year for the next 3 years, Tague said.  

But Planning Commissioner Francis Kung'u said he could find no compelling reason to recommend approval for the master plan amendment and rezoning. It would violate the city's housing goals.

Community Development Director Diana Wheeler had given the staff recommendation that the Planning Commission send the requests to City Council with its own recommendation for denial. She said staff had four areas of concern:

  1. The property is developable under the current zoning.
  2. Housing ratios established in the Comprehensive Plan do not support the project.
  3. The location is not within a walkable portion of the community and does not have immediate access to public transportation.
  4. Precedent: The City has denied previous applications with similar requests for stand-alone rental developments.

"At the moment, after staff analysis and listening to your presentation, I do not feel compelled to support," Kung'u said before making a motion to recommend denial.

The Planning Commissioner did say Tague was correct in saying the city needs to continually assess its goals and policies, including the housing ratio. That is something that will take a long time to do a study, and might not be done until the next update to the comprehensive land use plan.

Alpharetta City Council will hold a public hearing on the request at its Monday, May 29 meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m.

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