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Buice-Autry Mill project settles on 14 homes


Council says quality worth 4 more homes


November 28, 2012
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. The 10-acre wedge of property that comes to a point where Autry Mill Road and Buice Road meet has been a thorny development problem for years until the Johns Creek City Council ended the matter Nov. 26 and approved a scaled-down rezoning.

On the Buice Road side, the property faced Cameron Crest Farms and its 5-acre lots. To the north was the 1-acre lots of Papillion subdivision, but the Autry Mill Road side had the denser lots of Oxford Mill.

Many residents were asking the City Council to hold firm to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan calling for a minimum of 1-acre lots as the Planning Commission and staff recommended.

But Curtis Hicks, the developer, said the project was simply not viable at 10 lots not if the project was to have an interior road and provide curb and gutter, landscaping and fencing along two road frontages.

Creating such a small subdivision with some 1,200 feet of road frontage would render a 10-lot subdivision undevelopable, Hicks said.

The original request for a 22-lot subdivision was withdrawn to work more closely with the community. This final submission at 14 lots was the last chance. It called for the use of three-board equestrian fencing (more in keeping with the pastoral zoning and about a third of the cost of the stacked stone or brick-columned iron fence suggested by staff).

It will create a small park at the apex of the project where Buice and Autry Mill roads intersect, which will be maintained by the new subdivision's homeowner association.

Hicks also agreed to build 3,600-square-foot homes with basements, up from 3,000-square-foot homes of at least 50 percent brick or stone at a price point of $600,000 or more. This was up from $450,000.

The fact that there will be a homeowner association was a major factor in opting for the slightly larger plan. Had the project remained zoned Agricultural (AG-1), then the nine or 10 lots it would yield could have each had its own driveway fronting Buice or Autry Mill.

Ultimately, the council members agreed that four additional houses were a reasonable tradeoff for a project on the fringe of what the Comprehensive Plan designated Pastoral in light of what the city received:

** Curb and gutter with sidewalks along most of the frontage.

** A subdivision with an internal road and one ingress/egress rather than a possible nine or 10 driveways.

** Larger homes with higher price points, which will be in keeping with the area.

Councilwoman Bev Miller said this was a tough decision because she did not want to go against the Comprehensive Plan, but there were unique circumstances surrounding the property and it was not strictly in concordance with the Comprehensive Plan.

Planning and Zoning Director Justin Kirouac noted that the property if left AG-1 could not be compelled to have interior access to the individual lots. That was a concern of all of the council members who spoke.

Mayor Mike Bodker said four additional lots will have a marginal effect on the area. However, the gains in having a subdivision with covenants, landscaping and a pocket park made the concession worthwhile.

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    Clarification
    November 29, 2012 | 09:46 PM

    What the residents were asking for was approval of the staff recommendation, which would have resulted in 10 lots averaging out at 0.7 acres each. What the city approved was 14 lots averaging out at 0.5 acres each.

    Had the city approved the staff recommendation for the same plan as submitted by the developer, but with 10 lots instead of 14, there would have been the same controls as approved with the 14 lot plan. The council members and city council did not explain why they did not support the staff recommendation and the citizens request to revise the developer's plan to 10 lots so as to be in compliance with the land use plan, the character of the area, and provide somewhat larger lots (0.7 vs 0.5 acres) to be more consistent with adjacent properties over one acre in size.

    The developer will soon find that to sell a home in the $600,000 and above range, the size of the lot and adequate spacing between the homes is an important factor. The residents believe that it would have been easier for the developer to achieve his price point if the lots had been larger and the homes more widely spaced. The developer may yet learn this lesson and end up combining the eight 0.4 acre lots into four 0.8 acre lots so as to be able to sell them to builders who understand the desires of more expensive home buyers.

    Johns Creek resident
    Johns Creek
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