Category Archives: Political

30 Day Rezoning Moratorium in Milton

Milton horse

Milton has imposed a rezoning moratorium because the sheer volume of developer applications is swamping Milton’s Community Development Department, which makes many residents fear the city could lose its pastoral nature.

Council members voted Monday night to stop accepting applications for 30 days on rezonings in the following classifications:
•Community Unit Plan (CUP),
•Neighborhood Unit Plan (NUP),
•Transitional Zone (TR),
•Single-family dwelling (R-2 and R-2A)

“The important thing to realize in all this is that we, as a city council, remain committed to protecting our city from unchecked development,” said Mayor Joe Lockwood. “Instead, we’re actively taking steps to build a proper balance of property rights and community desires.”

Community Development Director Kathy Field said the city’s AG-1 zoning classification allows one home per acre. Developers can build at that density on any property zoned AG-1.

“There are stringent setback requirements in the AG-1 classification,” she said.

Sometimes a 1-acre lot might have topographical or stream problems that mean a home can’t be built on the lot under those requirements. AG-1 allows for a variance of up to 10 percent of the house lots. So in a 50-acre property, up to 5 of those lots could be granted a variance.

If a property has more than 10 percent of its lots with problems, developers have nowhere to go except the CUP classification, which allows up to 100 percent of the setbacks to be given variances.

“There is a concern in the community that’s allowing too much flexibility on the setback requirements,” Field said. The community feels developers and owners of land should have to follow the original setback requirements of AG-1.

“We’ve been inundated with a lot of CUPs, asking for changes to setbacks,” she said.

Field said the perception with the CUPs and other rezonings Milton is ending up with increased density. Developers say they are building the same number of lots at the same density, she said, adding that they are just better lots.

The council in granting the moratorium is letting the Community Development Department to take a step back and look at rezoning ordinances to “see if the zoning is really answering the needs of the community in terms of all the development that is going on.”

Field said the time will be spend making sure the rights of landowners in terms of their development rights are protected as well.

Only a 30-day moratorium is allowed as an emergency. But the city will spend the next 30 days advertising for a longer moratorium that could last several months.

“I think this is being driven by the consideration that there’s an awful lot of development going on in all of those subdivisions that have been previously left vacated because of the economic downturn. Those lots are being built up and new subdivision are coming in as well,” she said.

“The community is concerned about losing viewsheds, losing the pastoral look of the city of Milton. I think the council has heard that, and this is part of that response,” Field said.

Source: Alpharetta/Milton Patch

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Hey Congress, listen up….

The time is now to remind your Member of Congress or Senator about the critical issues facing the real estate economy and what needs to be done when Congress returns to Washington, DC after Labor Day. Use the following talking points on the Mortgage Interest Deduction and loan limits to communicate with your Member of Congress during the Summer 2011 recess.

Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) Talking Points:

First, Do No Harm

  • Raising taxes on homeowners would further stall economic recovery.
  • Housing is not recovering at the rate it should be.
  • Prices remain unstable, and inventories of homes for sale continue to grow in many areas.
  • The housing market remains far too fragile to sustain any tax increases.
  • Any limitation on the mortgage interest deduction is a tax increase on America’s homeowners.
  • Congress must DO NO HARM to housing.

Just the Talk of Eliminating Home Deductions is Spooking Buyers and Sellers

Homeowners and prospective buyers do not distinguish among Congressional proposals. They just hear in the news ―Congress may eliminate home mortgage deductions‖ and set aside their plans to purchase, even when they are otherwise qualified to buy a home. That angst among buyers and sellers continues to have a chilling effect on the market.

Reducing the Mortgage Interest Deduction Would Have a Very Uneven Geographic Distribution

Cutting the amount of mortgage debt that is eligible for a mortgage interest deduction would be an immediate tax increase on homeowners everywhere, but in high cost housing markets such as California, New York, and Northern Virginia such a tax increase would be especially devastating. In many of these high cost housing markets $500,000 is a modest middle class house or condo.

Any changes to the tax code should be done in public as part of comprehensive reform, not by 12 Members of Congress behind closed doors.

Targeting certain parts of the tax code without addressing comprehensive tax reform is just another band-aide on our fiscal problems. Tax reform without a full open process involving all our representatives is un-democratic.

FHA and GSE Loan Limits Talking Points:

Legislation has been introduced in the House to make the current FHA and GSE loan limit formula permanent. H.R. 1754, the “Preserving Equal Access to Mortgage Finance Programs Act”, is sponsored by Reps. Gary Miller (R-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA). In the United States Senate, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have introduced S. 1508 to extend the current loan limits. With housing markets remaining fragile, they cannot handle a mortgage disruption like lowering the loan limits.

Mortgage Loan Limits Will Drop without Congressional Action: The current loan limit formula is set to expire on September 30, 2011. Unless Congress acts, the FHA and GSE formula will drop to 115% of local area median home price with a cap of $625,500 from the current limit of 125%, with a cap of $729,750.

Decreasing the Limits Impacts Nearly Every State – NOT JUST HIGH COST AREAS: FHFA and FHA have published the new limits; more than 669 counties in 42 states and the territories would be negatively impacted by the loan limit formula and cap change. The average decline in loan limits would be more than $68,000. Only 8 states will see no decline (AR, IA, KS, MS, NE, ND, SD, & OK). Every other state will see a drop in loan limits. 1

The Number of Families Impacted Will Be High: On October 1st, 2011, some 5 million homes – roughly 27% of all owner-occupied homes in the United States – will become ineligible for mortgage financing, since there is little to no private mortgage financing available. Moreover, 59% of all owner-occupied housing will be ineligible for affordable FHA financing.2 If families can’t sell their homes and others cannot buy, the inventory of homes for sale will grow, further reducing housing values nationwide.

Housing Markets are Rebounding, but the Recovery will be slowed: With tight underwriting already constraining mortgage availability, lowering the FHA/Fannie/Freddie loan limits will only further restrict liquidity. Even with the current higher limits, borrowers are finding it more and more difficult to obtain affordable mortgage financing. Making the current limits permanent at levels appropriate for all parts of the country will provide homeowners and homebuyers with safe, affordable financing and help stabilize local housing markets.

It’s a Matter of Fairness: Retaining the current loan limits will allow homebuyers in higher cost areas to have access to affordable mortgage financing and share the same opportunity to achieve homeownership that borrowers in other regions of the country enjoy.

Congress Cannot Wait: Although the limits don’t expire until September 30, 2011, action cannot wait. It takes FHA and the GSEs several months to reset their underwriting systems to accept any changes in loan limits. The result will be to unnecessarily force homebuyers and those looking to refinance into less affordable mortgage products.

We all must do our part to work diligently toward a sustainable recovery.

Call or write today!