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Residents turn out for rezoning cases


JC Planning Commission has overflow crowd



Bell_Road_Rogers_rezoni
Residents listen as a developer unfolds his plan for new development in the city. HATCHER HURD/Staff. (click for larger version)
May 14, 2014
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. More than 200 residents came to the May 6 Johns Creek Planning Commission for two controversial zoning cases, one on Rogers Bridge Road in the Shakerag community and the other at the Old Alabama Road-Medlock Bridge Road intersection.

But this was just the preliminaries. The main event will be May 19. The arena is the same: City Hall, but the referees then will be the City Council. There is no title belt awarded, but it will be for all the marbles.

The Rogers Bridge rezoning case centers on Bell Road and Rogers Bridge Road, where the Rogers family wants to rezone 400 acres with 101 acres for development of 120 detached homes.

The Old Alabama-Medlock Bridge rezoning is 20 acres zoned Mixed Use under the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

Both had a lot of resident opposition.

The Old Alabama-Medlock case was up first. The CLUP calls for a mixed use of commercial and residential uses. However at a preliminary meeting with area leaders two months ago, the community made it clear they did not like the idea of more commercial development at the T-intersection of Old Alabama and Medlock.

So developer Brand Morgan came to the Planning Commission with an all-residential proposal. It would have 41 single-family homes with 79 townhouses in a gated community. The single-family homes would have a minimum of 3,000 square feet to a maximum of 4,000 square feet of heated space. The townhouses would price at the high $500,000s and the "carriage houses" in the high $700,000s.

The overall architectural style would be in "English Country vernacular," Morgan said.

While residents did not complain about the loss of the commercial component to the project (planning staff recommended denial because the project lacked commercial uses), they did not like the overall density of the project.

Johns Creek Community Association President David Kornbluh said the density was far greater than the neighboring subdivisions of Prestwick and Thornhill.

"It is six times larger than the 2030 comprehensive plan," Kornbluh said. "This is a suburban and pastoral environment. This urban style of development doesn't belong on this corner."

Morgan's attorney Pete Hendrix said the density is a "balancing act." The project calls for 40,000 square feet of commercial in a transitional pocket. Hendrix said the space has to show up somewhere in a development that has taken out the commercial.

Planning Commissioner Donald Mairose said the 6.05 unit per acre density was not in keeping with the CLUP. The plan was given a recommendation of denial in a 6-1 vote, and now awaits a May 19 date at City Council.

The Rogers Bridge case requested 101 acres be rezoned from Agricultural to Residential CUP for houses at a density of 2.21 units per acre.

Michael Rogers, a family member as well as an attorney, said his forebears were the oldest and largest landowners in Johns Creek. The family has decided to sell that property northernmost and nearest similar development.

The family wants to master-plan the entire 400 acres, although they plan to put a 10-year undisturbed covenant on the rest of the property.

"That not only gives the city an idea of what uses could be made of the property and have time to plan," Rogers said.

It sounded like a veiled overture should the city be interested in acquiring parkland.

Others in the audience did not see it that way. In zoning all of the 400 acres, the Rogers family locks in a density many said was not appropriate throughout the property.

In the end, the Planning Commission agreed to rezone the requested acreage meant for development, but recommended denial of the master plan request for the remaining land.

JC 05-15-14

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