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November 28, 2012JOHNS 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The original request for a 22-lot subdivision was withdrawn to work more closely with the community.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.