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Alpharetta housing development hits another snag

Planning Commission tables new proposal for Cumming Street



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – A proposed housing project in downtown Alpharetta’s last remaining large residential site hit another roadblock Aug. 3 when a revised building plan was tabled for another month.

After more than an hour of discussion, Alpharetta Planning Commission members voted unanimously to table a revised site plan by homebuilder Taylor Morrison that proposes 59 single-family detached homes near the historic Lewis-Manning House on Cumming Street, 10 fewer housing units than were originally proposed.

This is the latest in a series of revisions for Taylor Morrison which plans to develop the 12-acre site between Ga. 9 and Manning Drive.

Last month, the developer had proposed a site plan with 40 townhomes and 29 single-family detached dwellings on the property. The Planning Commission recommended denial of that plan.

This time around, commission members said they were disturbed by last-minute answers the developer submitted to the city’s list of conditions on the new proposal. They said such a complex site plan required more than a cursory perusal during a Planning Commission meeting.

City Planning Director Kathi Cook told the board city her staff is concerned that lot sizes adjacent to existing homes and along Cumming Street and Manning Drive do not comply with the recommended minimum 80-foot lot width and minimum 6,000 square feet lot size.

Cook also pointed out that the arrangement of houses lining Cumming Street are too close to the roadway. She said the developer’s earlier plan incorporated an interior tree-save, which the city supports, but the latest plan does not include that amenity.

Alpharetta’s Downtown Master Plan, adopted in 2015, allows a maximum of eight units per acre on the site. Taylor Morrison’s revised plan calls for five units per acre.

Still, Cook said, that doesn’t mean the city is willing to sign off on any development on the site just based on density.

“When we say ‘maximum of’ we still have to look at surrounding properties to see what that density is. If it’s surrounded by small subdivisions, then we should look at that and make recommendations like we have on this one,” she said.

In the wake of recent residential development near City Center, Cook said space for such projects in the Downtown District has become limited.

“This is the largest piece that’s left within the Downtown Overlay. We have some smaller properties, but this is by far the largest,” she said.

Planning Commission Chairman Francis Kung’u said there has been rapid development in the Downtown District over the past three years, and the plan for this particular property “just looks like it doesn’t fit that density because of the houses surrounding it.”

Nearby residents also appeared before the board, voicing concern about the proposed development.

Buddy Stovall, who lives on Manning Drive, said he salutes Taylor Morrison for addressing most of the issues he and his neighbors have raised. At the same time, he said, he thinks the property is too small for 59 homes.

“It seems to me they’re building very small houses on very small lots,” he said. “I think it would be setting a very bad precedent for Alpharetta.”

Both plans Taylor Morrison has submitted call for preserving and restoring the Lewis-Manning home and marketing the building for office use.

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