Jones-Abbotts Bridge property coming back

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – A 6.88-acre tract of property on Abbotts Bridge Road just east of Jones Bridge Road is coming back before the Johns Creek City Council Monday, Aug. 18, with a plan by the developer that could settle a lawsuit.

A mixed-use project was denied last August that sought to put 74 apartment units on the property with about 15,000 square feet of retail/commercial space. A lawsuit filed by developer Charlie Roberts has been put in abeyance pending settlement agreement with the new proposal.

The project will not go through a hearing at the Johns Creek Planning Commission. Instead, it will be heard directly by the City Council Monday night.

That rezoning hearing brought more than 100 residents to City Hall who opposed the project.

This new proposal would be built by JEH Homes if approved. JEH develops a high-end townhouse product. JEH plans to build 50 townhouses (7.26 units per acre) in a gated community. The units would range in footprint from 1,800 square feet to 2,350 square feet. The units would average 2,000 square feet. Price range will range from $285,000 to $349,000.

The project will share an entrance and traffic light next to Kids Village and Dynamo Swim Center.

JEH developer Jim Jocobi said the company prefers to build its largest unit product when it can. But close proximity to a commercial area and constraints of the property dictate the company go with its mid-size home plans.

In its letter to the city, Jocobi said, “In my experience as a residential developer, single people, young couples and empty nesters do not always need more square footage.”

What they do require are the luxury accoutrements and open floor plans found in older homes, he said.

An Aug. 7 meeting of concerned residents and the Johns Creek Community Association discussed the proposal at Lexington Woods subdivision.

Judy LeFave who lives on a property adjoining the property said the positive side is there are no apartments and no commercial elements to the project.

“I’m not against the townhomes, only the density,” LeFave said. “They are asking for internal variances, which mean they are squeezing [units] on the property.”

Royce Reinecke did not like the fact that the project is going straight to the council for consideration bypassing the Planning Commission.

“This is an all new plan. There is a zoning change to TR [townhouse residential] and there are no amenities,” Reinecke said.

JCCA President David Kornbluh noted that property is at the convergence of two city Character Areas. One has a five-unit per acre maximum and the other has a maximum of eight units per acre.

He noted the developer wants to take the higher end of the two Character Areas.

“I would prefer 35 units on the property, but I would settle for 42,” he said.

Resident Gretchen Keyser, who is also a realtor, said she was “thrilled” because these would be owner-occupied homes. She also said JEH was a reputable builder that built quality homes.

Ultimately, the citizen group said they would like lower density and more setbacks with a landscape plan that was uniform throughout the property.

Johns Creek City Manager Warren Hutmacher confirmed the developer was seeking a settlement with the city over the property, and the City Council has agreed to hear it.

“There is nothing binding in this. There is no prior agreement. It is an attempt by both parties to settle the lawsuit,” Hutmacher said.

“The key part of the plan for the City Council is that it does not contain apartments or commercial uses,” he said. “That was the case in the previous plan. It will be owner-occupied homes and of good quality.”

If this is a good compromise, then the city should hear it but the outcome is not predetermined, he said.

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