Rogers Bridge development in Johns Creek draws heat

Residents oppose subdivision although family has owned land 200 years



JOHNS CREEK, GA. – When your family’s name is the same as the city’s signpost for the road, it means you have history in the area. But the Rogers’ family name did nothing to assuage other residents’ concerns about a proposed 273-lot rezoning the Rogers Family Partnership has coming before the March 4 Planning Commission.

At a Feb. 4 zoning meeting of the Johns Creek Community Association at Perimeter Church there were as many area residents (almost 200) jammed into church meeting hall to voice their concerns as the other project heard the same night (See Page 1).

Michael Rogers, a real estate broker who lives in Buckhead now, told residents his family has owned the 104-acre tract of land five generations going back to 1830s. The 1839 farmhouse his great-great-great grandfather built still stands on the property.

“That is almost 200 years of stewardship of the land,” he said.

Now the family has a contract to buy an adjacent 40 acres that was up for sale to developers. The family wants develop 40 acres of their land to in effect keep their acreage holdings intact. The homes Rogers would develop are adjacent to existing subdivisions.

The property the family wishes to buy is a bequeathal of land to Young Harris College. The college is selling the land. Rogers said it was a tax-free exchange in which the family is in effect swapping its land for development to preserve a 100-acre tract.

But the development of another subdivision with 273 lots would take away more of the rural nature of the area, and the additional homes would add to the congestion of the Bell Road-Rogers Bridge area.

Residents are further concerned that the family is also rezoning the rest of the family acreage for single-family detached homes. It is currently zoned Agricultural (AG-1) which allows for 1-acre lots.

Ashton Woods is the developer, and plans to build homes from 2,500 square feet to 4,000 square feet with a price range of $600,000 to the $800,000s.

Mike Busher, vice president of acquisitions for Ashton Woods, said the company was in the process of designing all new elevations for the project, but he said it would be an “understated but elegant” development.

“We understand the area and we want to raise the bar if we can,” Busher said.

But the residents didn’t want the bar moved at all. They said they were happy with the woods and pasture that they currently enjoy.

One resident said the Rogers’ can come out on weekends and enjoy their land for a weekend getaway.

“But we have to live with the traffic. You don’t live here,” the resident said.

But Rogers replied to that saying, “We preserved our property, while the ones who owned yours sold out.”

Rogers’ position is that they are still preserving their land, swapping their land for development and in turn taking the other property “off the market.”

But Rogers said what he cannot do – as some suggested – that they donate the land for a park.

“I have uncles and cousins who own just as much as I do. There are nine families involved,” he said.

He said his relations are not prepared to donate their birthright, nor would he ask them to.

If some sort of public-private partnership could be worked, say with the city, then that could be a possibility. But short of that, the family will do what is best for them.

The bottom line was Rogers could not make guarantees whether the property would be subject to future development.

“We’re keeping our options open. But we have no plans to develop the rest of the property now. But it is in our best interests to rezone the entire [assemblage] now,” Rogers said.

As is often the case in Johns Creek rezoning, residents were concerned what effect more traffic will have on the congestion in the Bell Road area.

“Traffic is brutal and it’s only going to get worse,” one resident said.

Residents asked that the property be developed at a less density as a way to ease congestion and overcrowding in schools. But the developer said they are only asking the same density as has been developed in the area.

The project will come before the city Planning Commission March 4. It will be heard by the City Council March24.

02-12-14 JC

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