By Tia Lynn Ivey
As the Madison Mayor and City Council explore the possibility of reinstating Planned Residential Developments (PRDs) within the city’s Historic District, Brad Good, a local developer, is hopeful that the dashed plans for the Foster Street Development could still happen in the future.
PRDs as a whole became the focus of an intense public debate this past year, when Good submitted an application for one, seeking to create a 37-house subdivision called Foster Park on the historic Thomason Miller Property in Madison. Residents of the Historic District protested the project and submitted a text amendment to do away with PRDs in the Historic District altogether. The council narrowly approved the amendment to eliminate PRDs with a 3-2 to vote, but one council member, Chris Hodges, publicly admitted to voting for the amendment by accident.
“I thought I was voting against eliminating PRDs,” said the councilwoman the week after the vote during a public apology.
Now that the council is having second thoughts about eliminating PRDs, Good is putting forth his perspective, arguing that PRDs are beneficial for the community, inherently protective of tradition and resources, and blames the opposition for spreading misinformation about his project and PRDs in general. PRD opponents feared development would be “too dense” for the area, cause traffic congestion, parking problems, noise, potentially decrease property values in the Historic District, and diminish local tourism. But Good does not believe that to be the case.
“PRDs got thrown under the bus because of the Foster Street proposal,” said Good. “I don’t think the council really thought through what PRDs mean for the city.”
According to Good, PRDs are a valuable tool that balances development and green space.
“Planned Residential Development is a positive tool for the city, encouraging creative site design, the preservation of open space, and unique environmental features, conserve energy with efficient home design, and promote the efficient use of land by minimizing development protection of the community and to insure historic design guidelines are met,” explained Good. “Due to much misinformation about the Foster Park neighborhood and PRDs, we are offering both our opinion regarding PRDs, but also what Foster Parks plan and design intentions are within a PRD zoning as well as benefits to the community.”
According to Good, if PRDs are reinstated and his project is approved, it will be a quality development adding a significant economic impact to the city in addition to preserving areas of greenspace and restoring the Thomason Miller house on Main Street that was damaged in a fire years ago.
“The homes will sell for $350,000 to $450,00 and will be designed per the Historic Preservation Commission’s guidelines and controls,” said Good. “Foster Park will be an economic asset to Madison. Private funds, not public, will invest up to $10.5 million in infrastructure improvements, including roads, greenspace, landscape and home construction…The Foster Park community, with only average expenditures, would bring between $1.9 million and $2.2 million in Madison’s economy annually. Tax revenue would be between $130, 000 to $150,000 annually.”
Good also argues that his development would bring up to $30,000 in utility fees for the city and that the increased traffic still received an A rating from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
Good also argues that his project will protect three acres of green space along Horse Branch Creek, which is line with the city’s goal to have green spaces within a 10-minute walking distance to all residents. Good’s project also includes a plan for the Thomason Miller house to be restored as “an architectural jewel on Main Street.”
“It’s currently an eyesore to the historic district,” said Good. “The home’s renovation will make a dramatic impact on the Main Street frontage and entry to the City. The rest of the project is hidden as a true infill development behind an existing and proposed 25-fott buffer trees, shrubs and fences. Further, a larger buffer between the rear of the Foster Thomason Miller house and adjacent lot on Main Street will be maintained creating no visual impact on the historic district.”
While a PRD is the ideal zoning for Good, he has other zoning options as a possibility to bring a revised version of the Foster Park project to life again. The property is currently zoned as Residential 2, which would allow for 24 houses on half-acre lots, no approval necessary. Good is hesitant to go that route because of the current market. Another possibility is to apply for a Residential 4 zoning, which would allow 48 houses on Foster Street property. The houses would be subject to HPC architectural design, planning and zoning approval, but not site approval from the HPC as the PRD would require.
“We are weighing all our possibilities,” said Good. “We want to see where the City Council lands on this before making any decisions.”