Downtown housing development receives approval from planners

Project near Manning House calls for 58 detached homes



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – A proposed housing project in downtown Alpharetta passed a major hurdle Thursday on its way to a final vote before the City Council later this month.

The Alpharetta Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to Taylor Morrison’s revised plan to construct 58 single-family detached homes near the historic Lewis–Manning House on Cumming Street.

This was the developer’s third trip before the planners dating back to June, each time modifying downward the number of dwellings it seeks to build on the 12-acre site.

It is the last large undeveloped residential tract in the city’s downtown. Early plans had sought 40 townhomes and 29 single-family detached dwellings on the property.

Last month, Taylor Morrison had proposed a site plan with 59 single-family homes, but the Planning Commission tabled that proposal when the developer submitted last-minute responses to address a host of conditions city planning staff had suggested.

Planning commissioners said they did not want to consider such a complex proposal without ample time to study the developer’s response to staff’s suggested conditions.

This go-around, City Planning Director Kathi Cook told the Planning Commission the latest proposal brought significant changes to the layout, including a setback of some 40 feet off Cumming Street which will serve as a civic space.

She said the density for the new plan places just under four units per acre, well below the allowed density of eight units per acre in the Downtown Overlay Plan.

Cook did point out that staff was not satisfied with the developer’s efforts at saving existing trees on the property.

The proposed development also includes restoration and property landscaping of the Lewis-Manning House. The building will be converted for office use.

Cook had recommended that the house be restored before the city issues its first certificate of occupancy for the dwellings. She said the same condition was mandated for the East of Main development on nearby Academy Street near City Hall.

“We want to make sure the house is restored as quickly as possible,” Cook said. “It’s an entrance to their property, plus it’s so visible on Cumming Street.”

But Dennis Webb, attorney for Taylor Morrison, said the developer is putting the Manning House on the market for office use and has no control of when that sale will take place.

Webb suggested a compromise that would allow 29 homes be built before the historic home is restored.

Webb also noted the latest plan proposes 30 percent of the site be devoted to open space – and this is on a site that requires no open space at all. In addition the plan includes two parks totaling about 6,000 square feet.

“We have made a mountain of changes along the way,” Webb said.

Those changes also include Taylor Morrison pushing back the first home from its proximity to Cumming Street. The company also increased the distance of the three homes proposed on Manning Drive to 30 feet.

Planning commissioners, however, were unmoved with arguments that compromised on tree save on the interior of the development and on delaying restoration of the Manning House. Those conditions were maintained as part of the board’s approval.

The Alpharetta City Council will consider the matter for final approval Sept. 25.

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