The People of Alpharetta Deserve the Truth

On April 28, 2008 my opponent, Cheryl Oakes, voted to approve a high density mixed use project which will eventually be built at the corner of Windward Parkway and Northpoint Parkway in Alpharetta. I know this because the project called for seven high-rise condo towers to be built in my children’s school district and after months of trying to prevent its approval I was sitting in the audience when the vote was taken.

I mention this now because the Downtown Alpharetta Trade Association held a candidate forum last night and at the event I stated that my opponent for City Council Post 4 had voted to approve that project. Then something surreal happened.

My opponent stood up in front of a room full of Alpharetta voters and blatantly misstated the facts about her record.

Ms. Oakes told the people that she had not voted for the project at all. Ms. Oakes then went on to make the bizarre claim that it was actually her predecessor on council that had voted for the project before Cheryl took office in 2008.

I was stunned that a political candidate could stand up in front of a crowd and so blatantly misstate the facts.  The truth is a matter of public record.

Cheryl Oakes began her term on Alpharetta City Council on January 7, 2008 as reported here. The vote on the high density mixed use project was taken on April 28, 2008 as reported here. The public record shows that all city council members were present at the time and the vote was unanimous as you can see for yourself here.

Ms. Oakes’ predecessor was actually at the DATA forum as well and both she and a current mayoral candidate confirmed my account of the events.

There is no question that my opponent voted to add seven condominium towers to that corner of Windward Parkway. And now there is no question that she blatantly misstated the facts to the voters of Alpharetta.

I take no pleasure in pointing out what my opponent has done… but the people of Alpharetta deserve the truth.

And as a candidate for Alpharetta City Council Post 4 it is my duty to make sure they know the truth before voting on Tuesday, November 8.

Brandon Beach pitches trains in Windward on the news

Earlier I covered curious events surrounding a presentation to the Alpharetta City Council by Mr. Brandon Beach. Mr. Beach is a board member of the Georgia Department of Transportation and also serves as the CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce as well as Director of the North Fulton CID which represents the commercial property owners in the Northpoint Parkway area of Alpharetta.

You can read the previous posts here and here for more details. But after Mr. Beach decided not to present his transit plan to our city council you can imagine my surprise when I heard that he had instead chosen to present the plan on WSB’s newscast last night. You can see the clip by clicking on the picture below.

I have seen Mr. Beach give a similar presentation but it didn’t mention taking the train through my neighborhood to Duluth. Needless to say I am not a fan of expanding costly and inefficient trains through my neighborhood and now I understand why he didn’t even bother presenting the plan to our City Council.

In a completely unrelated matter I noticed a few pictures of Mr. Beach in the Alpharetta Revue today. The odd thing was that standing right there with Brandon was Penn Hodge, the developer that owns the land adjacent to the Windward MARTA property. Looked like they were having a great time together at the Ritz Carlton. Small world isn’t it?

But back to the matter at hand, I did like one part of the WSB news story. The clip where Mr. Beach says,”You’ve got Windward… up here… with jobs.” The rest of the clip… not so much.

Taxpayers pick up the tab for Windward Mill road improvements

Back in 2008 the Alpharetta City Council approved a high density mixed use project for the intersection of Windward Parkway and Northpoint Parkway. The developer of the project is a man named Penn Hodge and he calls the proposed project Windward Mill. Many residents were upset that the Windward Mill project would add 500 condos to the site and result in 12,000 more vehicular trips at the congested intersection but the Alpharetta City Council unanimously approved the project.

One of the justifications councilmembers cited for their approval was that as a condition of the rezoning the developer would be responsible for millions of dollars in road improvements to accommodate his enormous project. You may remember that the same talking point was recently used by City Council as they tried to explain their recent approval of the MetLife high density mixed use project on Haynes Bridge Road.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that I would be paying for road improvements to accommodate a 15 story condo tower that I didn’t want built in the first place. Well not just me, every tax payer in the state of Georgia is now paying for the road improvements that are Penn Hodge’s responsibility.

As you can see in this press release the North Fulton Community Improvement District has announced that the Georgia Department of Transportation will pay more than $600,000 to, “add a right-turn lane along Windward Parkway, from the north-bound exit all the way to North Point Parkway”. Curiously the press release doesn’t mention that one of the zoning conditions for Penn Hodge’s project on that corner was that there be “an eastbound right-turn lane along Windward Parkway”.

So how did Penn Hodge, who sits on the board of the North Fulton CID, convince the state of Georgia that taxpayers should pay more than $600,000 for the road improvements he was obligated to make? I don’t know but it seems like a great question to ask the executive director of the North Fulton CID, Brandon Beach. You see Mr. Beach just happens to also be the North Fulton representative on the board for the Georgia Department of Transportation. Small world isn’t it?

Alpharetta Condo Developer Penn Hodge appointed to Development Authority

Penn Hodge is the developer that was instrumental in bringing the Verizon Amphitheater to Alpharetta and coincidentally applied for a 15 story condominium on Windward Parkway a few months later. The condo tower will be part of the Windward Mill high density mixed use project that has been stalled for years. Once the Alpharetta City Council approved his project Mr. Hodge touted its density as unthinkable by area standards.

Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann has now appointed the strip mall impressario from Johns Creek to the Development Authority of Fulton County. Ms. Hausmann is quoted in the Alpharetta Revue here as saying:

“Penn Hodge’s impressive economic development background and his service as a member of the Economic Development Board for the State of Georgia will bring tremendous value to all of Fulton County,”

The urbanization of North Fulton County continues. Full speed ahead!

Where are the 15 story condos?

Yesterday I mentioned that the City of Alpharetta didn’t bother promoting the open house for the new Comprehensive Land Use Plan on their website and compared it to making residents play a game of Where’s Waldo to find vital information. Now it looks like the city has decided to take that game to a whole new level.

A few years ago the city rezoned a piece of property at the corner of NorthPoint Parkway and Windward Parkway to mixed use. The project was named Windward Mill and still sits undeveloped. At the time the property was zoned for office space so the change allowed the developer to add about 500 condos to the site. Many of the condos were to be built in 5 story buildings but the developer couldn’t cram them all in without putting 180 of them in a single 15 story building.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the pictures Alpharetta is now using to portray the “Desired Character Images” of the Windward activity area:







Notice Anything Missing?






Where’s the 15 story condo tower? It’s possible that the 5 story buildings could be hidden by using a street level view but a 15 story building? Wouldn’t 15 stories still be visible? And wouldn’t a 15 story building be the kind of detail that residents need to know about?

But what do I know? I’m just some crazy blogger that actually lives in Alpharetta as opposed to an erudite urban planner that doesn’t.



The city wants to expand the use of high density mixed use all over town so this is important. The proposed comprehensive plan expands mixed use in Windward, calls for condos or apartments all over the Northpoint area and it surrounds a good portion of Wills Park with the same stuff. That is a complete change in the character of our city and residents deserve to know that the pictures being used to sell it are accurate representations.

It’s sad that Alpharetta’s Community Development Department is allowed to mislead residents and even sadder that they use our own tax dollars to do it. I look forward to asking this year’s mayoral and city council candidates why they allow this to continue.

John Monson for Alpharetta City Council? No Thanks.

I got a robocall for Alpharetta City Council candidate John Monson today and it made me laugh out loud. The guy used to be on city council and was the driving force behind putting an ultra dense mixed use development in my children’s school district.

The Windward Mill project will add 12,000 car trips to one of the most congested intersections in Alpharetta and my neighbors in Windward packed the city council chambers with people opposed to the project. We even submitted a petition with more than 500 signatures of people opposed to the project.

Despite all of this, during the city council meeting John Monson personally handed out flyers supporting the developer. In more than a decade of zoning involvement I have never seen an elected official shill for a developer so shamelessly.

John Monson for Alpharetta City Council? No Thanks.