Over 200 concerned Johns Creek citizens and homeowners appeared at the City Council hearing to register their opposition to the rezoning request. These citizens represented the majority of the residents affected by the rezoning. Hundreds of emails were sent to the mayor and council members, along with petitions from many neighborhoods. These emails and petitions advanced the reasons the apartments should be rejected.
The opposition presented their reasons why the request should be rejected. The reasons included the issues of the impact on traffic, schools, city services, safety and property values. Included in the presentation was support for the recruitment of commercial businesses for the property in order to comply with the land use intent of Technology Park.
The opposition pointed out that there were enough apartments already within a half-mile radius of the proposed new apartments. The area stood to be saturated with apartments. The opposition pointed out that they were not opposed to apartments, but were opposed to apartments at this location, because of the density of apartments in the immediate area.
The opposition observed a number of weaknesses and concerns in the applicant’s presentation, but these points were not challenged or questioned by the council. During the question-and-answer period after the presentations, all of the questions from the council were directed to the applicant. This one-sided discussion gave the applicant additional opportunities to present their case. No questions were directed to the opposition, so there were no opportunities to offer input or clarifications. The opposition was not afforded equal time to make its case.
The mayor invoked the Steinberg Act as the reason why the request could not be denied. The opposition had no idea what the Steinberg Act was or how it impacted decisions. We had no opportunity to review, understand or refute this reasoning. Contrary to the council’s interpretation, our analysis after the hearing uncovered ample support in the Steinberg Act for denying the request.
Following the vote on the rezoning request, the council members voiced the reasons for their individual votes. The opposition took exception to some of the remarks and reasoning made by the members.
The opposition pointed out to the council that the majority of citizens were opposed to the rezoning, and the will of the people was for the council to deny the request. The council chose to vote against the majority.
It should be noted that at the Planning Commission hearing on Oct. 4, that body voted to deny the rezoning request. Thus, the City Council went against its own Planning Commission in voting in favor of the rezoning. We are concerned that, by its action, the City Council has set an unwanted and unwise precedent.