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Johns Creek residents oppose Old Alabama Road mixed-use zoning

Say traffic at Medlock can't stand any more

Concerned Johns Creek residents turned out for two rezoning projects that will affect the northeast area of the city. HATCHER HURD/Staff. (click for larger version)
February 12, 2014
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. Nearly 200 Johns Creek residents came out Feb. 2 to object to a 20-acre proposed mixed-use project at the southwest corner of Old Alabama Road and Medlock Bridge Road that would add retail/office development along with apartments and condominiums.

The meeting was organized by the Johns Creek Community Association for its member neighborhoods to get a preview of the project and to talk face to face with the developer.

The property is part of a 70-acre parcel owned by the Atlanta Athletic Club and is directly across the street from AAC's main gate on Medlock Bridge Road.

The rezoning request proposes 42,200 square feet of office and retail along with transitional housing consisting of 263 rental apartments including units above ground-floor retail and 24 condominiums or townhouses.

It is early days yet for the property owned by the Atlanta Athletic Club and will be developed by Brand Properties LLC owned by R. Brand Morgan.

Morgan told the residents at the JCCA meeting at Perimeter Church (just across the street from the proposed project) that he is not a build-and-flip developer. His company holds onto the projects it builds, a because of that, residents can be assured it will be successful and of high quality.

"The Atlanta Athletic Club picked us for that reason. We build the best product," he told residents.

Morgan said he recognized the problems of building in an area already congested such as Medlock and Old Alabama. That was one reason the idea of "boutique grocery store" was tossed out. It would generate too much traffic, he said.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) calls for low-density commercial use at the intersection, transitioning down in intensity of use from commercial to multi-family rental to owner-occupied townhouses. The residential will be 14 units to the acre, which Morgan described as not too dense as transitional housing.

That drew some derisive hoots from area residents who noted in their questions and in their statements to Morgan that the T-intersection of Old Alabama and Medlock Bridge is near gridlock during peak hours already.

Traffic generated by the retail/office center and traffic from apartments and townhouses could well bring about complete gridlock.

"I can't tell you how to resolve traffic. I can only tell you I will do what Johns Creek [Planning Department] tells me to do," Morgan said.

There were other questions Morgan could not answer, such as what will the AAC do with the remaining acreage fronting the west side Medlock Bridge Road?

He said he does not own that land nor is he privy to what the private club is thinking. But with at least two major PGA tournaments scheduled there in the coming two years, Morgan said he thought AAC would have to keep the land undeveloped to continue to use it for event parking.

Others expressed concern that commercial property's density and lack of landscaping on the Old Alabama side detracted from the rural character of Old Alabama and clashed with the Perimeter Church landscaping (it sits back on 100 acres).

Residents also noted it would be harder not only for themselves to get in and out in peak times but for the church's school as well.

The meeting went on for more than an hour. But Morgan promised to meet again with homeowner associations to listen to their concerns again and work for some solutions.

"We are open to renegotiating," Morgan said. "We have heard what the Atlanta Athletic Club has to say. Now we are ready to compromise with you."

One item he put on the table was to eliminate some or all of the apartments and have more owner-occupied townhouses.

The project is scheduled to come before the Planning Commission March 4, and then for a final hearing before the City Council March 24.

02-12-14 JC

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Tags: Community & Outreach, Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    Self-evident the development is inappropriate for the corner
    February 12, 2014 | 08:50 PM

    To any impartial observer it is self-evident that the proposed development is not appropriate. This is reflected by the outrage of the Prestwick residents and the Johns Creek community. If the city council approves this development the citizens will have to question if their government truly represents them.

    An Observer
    Johns Creek
  2. report print email
    Traffic Nightmare
    February 14, 2014 | 03:22 AM

    This development would easily turn the intersection into a nightmare. Traffic would likely be entering in two places. The first is at the Athletic club light preceding the Medlock Bridge, Old Alabama intersection. And second would likely be a new feeder at the end of Old Alabama right before the light. It is crazy to think what that would do to traffic patterns that are already gridlocked from the moment school let's out to till the end of rush hour. Who cares about one developer's losses when this effects a whole community. Not to mention it fills one of the last remaining green spaces in John's Creek with more eyesore housing sitting on top of a four lane highway. Have the city buy it back and put a park there already.

    John's Creek Resident
    Johns Creek
  3. report print email
    One Last Tidbit
    February 14, 2014 | 03:27 AM

    Also it's very kind of the developer to remind us, the community, that the resulting traffic is our problem. How much money will it cost to modify the intersection to support this development? I would like to know since that will be on us the taxpayer. It will probably cost more than the land..Do we really need more townhouses that bring nothing but detriment to the table?

    Johns Creek
    Johns Creek
  4. report print email
    Don't forget Dean Gardens
    February 14, 2014 | 11:23 AM

    Dean Gardens on Old Alabama near that same intersection is proposed to be torn down and replaced with 75 houses so there will be some extra traffic at Old Alabama/141 from that new development. http://www.johnscreekga.gov/JCGA/media/pdf-pc/RZ-14-008-Site-Plan.pdf?ext=.pdf

  5. report print email
    tax base/schools
    February 15, 2014 | 09:49 AM

    Has anyone addressed what effect this will have on the tax base for the immediate area? Also bringing in apartments and townhomes will bring in families with children to further burden the school system. We have plenty of retail space that is not occupied at this time. Has anyone considered single family homes on zero lot lines for 55 housing?

    Johns Creek
  6. report print email
    You get it
    February 15, 2014 | 12:27 PM

    You get who you voted for as mayor and city council. People that want to build commercial properties and apts.for tax money.

    Johns Creeker
    Johns Creek
  7. report print email
    February 16, 2014 | 11:32 AM

    Interesting the same folks who populated and contributed to the issues want no more development. Why not try looking at our government and demanding our taxes be diverted to traffic solutions so progressive development like this continues supporting our area flourishing.
    This proposal is great for our area.

    Johns Creek
  8. report print email
    Glad you're here
    February 17, 2014 | 10:38 PM

    I lived down from that intersection (Buice Rd/Old Alabama Rd) for many years. Moved to the area in 1983 and have heard the same cries over and over and over again. NOT IN MY BACKYARD!! Of course, the folks who are now screaming it are living int he houses built in the prior generation's backyard. I love the mentality. I live here now, we can stop building.

    John DeCreek
    Johns Creek
  9. report print email
    February 18, 2014 | 06:38 AM

    Johns Creek has enough vacate apartments and townhomes. Every weekend people are outside of The Reserve at Johns Creek Walk and the Oaks twirling a sign trying to get people to rent apartments. And let's be honest, all apartments have a 10-year maximum before they become run down and and clientele changes. Is this the direction JC residents want to go?

    Concerned JC Resident
    Johns CReek
  10. report print email
    Concerned Too
    February 18, 2014 | 07:31 AM

    I would have to agree with Concerned JC Resident above. First don't forget about the sign Twirler at the Regency Apartments' too which makes three sign Twirler's on Medlock Bridge Road. Also, I currently live in the Reserve at Johns Creek Walk and the new management company, RAM Partners, LLC has rammed this place into the ground since they took over last March of 2013. The clientele has already changed drastically and once inside the gated community there has been no landscaping done in the last year, oh a little pine straw about a month ago; several broken down, abandoned and illegally parked cars and this last storm they could not even clean up the snow and ice, all they did was send out an Cover Your Butt email saying that there was no ice melt left. Oh I can't forget about the approximate Quarter Million dollar leasing office renovation they just completed too. This is my opinion but it's yet just another reason why new apartments in Johns Creek should not be built.

    Concerned JC Resident Too
    Johns Creek
  11. report print email
    Paragraph 9
    February 18, 2014 | 03:40 PM

    I would like to point out that what is stated in paragraph 9 of this article is not what the Comprehensive Land Use Plan "calls for" at this property. Instead, paragraph 9 is simply repeating what Brand Morgan said at the meeting.

    The CLUP shows this property within the River Estates Character Area and it designates the property as "transitional". There is no formal zoning definition for this term. However, the CLUP does describe the River Estates Character Area as having "large homes on large lots". It states that "the neighborhoods are subdivided into 1 acre lots providing an estate quality". It further states that "the city intends to protect these established neighborhoods". It also mentions a goal to "create incentives to preserve large lots to offset economic pressures in the long term". Read it for yourself, pages 18 and 19 of the CLUP under Character Area 05. I see absolutely nothing in the CLUP that "calls for" 260 apartments crammed onto approximately 50% of 19.85 acres on this property.

    Johns Creek
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