MILTON, Ga — Just over a year after residents passed its Greenspace Bond referendum, Milton is moving forward to purchase a massive tract of land for greenspace.
On Monday night, the Milton City Council voted 6-0 to enter into a due diligence period to potentially take ownership of 137 acres that is currently the Milton Country Club. Under the contract, the purchase price is for $5 million, about $36,000 per acre. If finalized, the acquisition would take up 20 percent of the Greenspace Bond funds.
The due diligence period runs until Dec. 15 during which time the city will conduct a survey and appraisal process. The appraisal is set to be completed Dec. 11 according to City Attorney Ken Jarrard.
If the city decides to go forward with the purchase during the due diligence period, Milton will close the purchase on Jan. 15.
City Manager Steve Krokoff said Milton Country Club not only includes immense acreage, but also provides the city with a property that fits the city’s greenspace initiative. The criteria for land acquisition includes the possibility of trails, preserving the city’s rural character and augmenting the city’s greenspace. In addition, the potential purchase includes a willing landowner with buildable land.
“This proposal meets all the criteria except for contiguous land,” Krokoff said. But with over 130 acres, he said the site would become a feature itself.
The site also includes 1.6 miles along Chicken Creek.
“To nobody is that stream more important to than us,” Krokoff said. “Once we have control of that bank, we can control the quality of it. That’s a huge part of this bond and one of the reasons this is such a unique purchase as well.”
Councilman Matt Kunz said the property aligns with the city’s aim to retain natural spaces.
“Ultimately, I think it’s going to be great for the community,” he said.
Kunz was surprised at the rapidity of the planning and contractual stages, which could see the city take ownership of the golf course in less than two months after the process began.
That was the concern of many residents in attendance who felt they did not have enough time to review the proposal. They also shared concerns that Milton would be taking possession of the club without having a detailed plan for its future.
Many of those residents came from the Highgrove subdivision which is surrounded by the course.
Some voiced that they would like to have the option to purchase some of the land with conservation easement and asked the city to give the time to do so. Others were troubled with the land’s abutting their backyards and the privacy issue that would entail.
Residents were first made aware of the potential purchase last Friday, just three days before the meeting, through an email from the city.
Around two hours before Monday’s meeting, the city emailed a list of answered questions regarding the process and possible future of the space.
Krokoff said the process has been expedited by the seller who brought forward a potential plan for around 50 additional homes on the site. As a conceptual plan it appeared to be viable, he said.
Mayor Joe Lockwood said there was never any intent for a “behind the scene deal,” but that the city needed to move quickly on the major purchase.
Kunz said he understood the sentiment of those concerned, but he said the future of the space will be with the residents should the city complete the purchase.
“The good part is, most people are wondering what the future is going to hold,” he said. “The best part is the future is really in their hands now.”
Lockwood was also optimistic.
“This is very exciting for the city,” he said. “I think it’s one of those things when we look back in 20 years everybody is going to say ‘Wow, what a great decision.’ It will be looked at as the start of a great thing for Milton, our residents and future generations.”
Councilman Joe Longoria recused himself from the vote. Longoria is a resident of Crooked Creek, which he stated has a long history with Milton Country Club.