Alpharetta citizens express need for trees in development project
by Rachel Kellogg
August 13, 2012 12:51 AM | 2403 views | 7 7 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ALPHARETTA — As Alpharetta’s City Center project gets closer to becoming a reality, residents are expressing concern about the number of trees that may have to be cut down.

At a recent City Council meeting, 10 citizens questioned the city’s dedication to being a tree-friendly community.

As part of the downtown development project, the city plans to remove 23 of the 104 specimen trees on the 26-acre site because they are in poor health or in a hazardous condition. The city has also identified 11 specimen trees that can be moved.

Deb Zemlock, president of the Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission, said the city could do a better job of preserving mature hardwood trees and specimen trees.

“We could have a project that’s a model for the preservation of the urban forest,” she said.

Other residents said the project’s parking deck will force the removal of too many trees and said the project, as it is now presented, is too different from the original concept that was presented before the $29 million bond referendum passed.

But council members pointed out the parking deck was a part of the conceptual sketch that preceded the bond vote. Councilman Michael Cross noted that the referendum passed by 71 percent.

Resident David Cox said three water oak trees will have to be removed with the version of the site plan that was recently passed, and he spoke about the trees in the city that have been taken down in recent few years by bad weather.

“We can’t stop Mother Nature. But we can stop poor planning,” he said. “We want to preserve our trees.”

But Councilman D.C. Aiken said he is proud of the measures the city has taken to be green and promote sustainability.

Councilman Chris Owens agreed.

“I don’t know that anything has changed in our desire to be green,” Owen said.

Three residents from Alpharetta spoke in support of the downtown project and the city’s current site plan.

Alpharetta Business Association member Brian Patton said he commends City Council on their courage to “do something different.”

Patton said the criticism is unfounded and said the City Center project has been in the works for about 10 years. He also pointed out the recently approved site plan actually saves one more tree than the preliminary site plan did.

“This is a great plan,” he said. “If we do not give downtown a shot in the arm, we’re going to be sorry someday.”

Mayor David Belle Isle promised to listen to all feedback and said the council will do its best to address concerns.

Meetings of the Alpharetta City Council are typically held on the first, third and fourth Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m.
Comments
(7)
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Smyrna Guy
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August 13, 2012
Not sure why the hate on Smyrna. I drive through it twice a day and I see plenty of mature trees through in the city and throughout the neighborhoods. As a site development engineer, I know that there are many types of creative stormwater manageament measure in place throughout. Most of the times you do not see them due to the reduction of developable property left available as a result of the required setbacks and buffers for landscape buffers and tree protection requirements. So all you Smyrna haters, please head to Decatur and hug a sacred tree or whatever else you do there and leave us the heck alone.
Smyrna -no trees
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August 13, 2012
Another attempt to seek out and counter any truth about the poor conditions in Smyrna.

Drive along the main entry point to Smyrna, Spring Road & all you see for miles is cement! Cement sidewalks!Cement bridge! Not one attempt to enhance or beautify w/ street trees, public art, or any native plants.

All of the roads look just like this! Atlanta Road,.. has increased its cement quota,.. w/ 10 foot sidewalks straight out to the street. No landscape barriers, no bike lanes,.. nothing that brings a pleasant feeling.

Really, if you can't see the difference between the beautifully landscaped streets & neighborhoods of Decatur,.. and the barrenness of the city of Smyrna, then you have a specific agenda and your comments are meaningless.
Symrna Guy
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August 15, 2012
to Smyrna - No trees - Apparently you are the one with the agenda. No countering any truth here. Our strees are functional for the volume of traffic and the sidewalks provide a high degree of safety to the many walkers and runners.

Thank God we are all not like Decatur...in many ways. I get creeped out by some of the people and things I see if my business ever takes me through Decatur.

I suggest you move on over there and stop worrying about it.
Visiting
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August 13, 2012
I travel to Alpharetta to see my girlfriend at least once a week. I would be more likely to stick around and patronize the city if I knew that they continue to support, and act on, sustainable development practices.
@ Visiting
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August 13, 2012
Your kidding right? Alpharetta is a beautiful area with a lot to offer. Are you an intercity snob?
mk-need old trees
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August 13, 2012
Alpharetta,.. please respect your citizens, your wildlife & your trees!

You need to be environmentally mindful and encourage development to 'fit in' to the existing environment.

What is so wonderful about the Decatur/Emory/Ponce/Inman Park/Va-Highlands neighborhoods, are all the magnificent , majestic oaks and lush greenery.

Steer clear of becoming another typical suburban sprawl 'heat island'.

Smyrna has a failing grade as far as tree protection or any type of innovative storm water bioswales or sustainable planning. I imagine it's the backwards thinking and planning, is why Smyrna is a ghosttown & Decatur id a thriving, vibrant community!

Be like the winners!
Treeless in Smyrna
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August 13, 2012
Mayor Belle promised to listen to all feedback and said the council will do its best to address concerns. Would Alpharetta's mayor & council please come to Smyrna and show its leadership how that's done. Smyrna could use some help.
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