Parsons development gets citizen support

Council tepid to new building methods that would reduce stormwater runoff



JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – A new subdivision on Parsons Road was approved Nov. 27 by the Johns Creek City Council, and the citizens who spoke in opposition were pleased. That really is news.

A 10-lot subdivision at 10730 Parsons Road was narrowly approved in a 4-3 vote, but residents who opposed the development got what they really wanted – more protection against stormwater runoff.

Dan O’Dwyer, owner of O’Dwyer Properties, got approval to build his 10 homes, which will have a price point of $650,000, on a single street. The development on 4.4 acres will have a density of 2.25 units per acre and is well within the Character Area’s density specifications of between two units and four units per acre. Much of the surrounding area is already four units per acre.

What the neighbors were asking for – and what O’Dwyer agreed to – was to forgo standard curb and gutter and use permeable building materials on the streets and driveways to reduce runoff and the need for catch basins, which they say contribute to flooding in rainy weather and also contribute to the ever widening of Johns Creek and Cauley Creek.

Thomas Corrigan, a member of the Medlock Bridge Homeowner Association, said what is needed in the area to calm increasing flooding is to use more permeable materials that allow stormwater discharge to be dispersed on the properties themselves.

“Johns Creek used to be 35 feet wide 20 years ago. Today it is 57 feet wide. This is due to creeks backing up because of continued development over the years,” Corrigan said.

As development has increased, so has the volume and velocity of the water.

“We want to see the city set a new tone,” Corrigan said.

Meeting with O’Dwyer, area HOAs got the developer to agree to use porous concrete and asphalt that would contain stormwater rather than shift it into gutters and on to catch basins.

The downside is that using these materials means the city would have to perform periodic maintenance on streets to keep the porous areas created under streets and drives free of debris. This is where the City Council balked. The city has no such equipment and there are no companies that provide that service in the Johns Creek area.

But Corrigan argued that these materials are “a more sustainable design” that could and should be adopted by the city for the overall good of Johns Creek.

David Neuringer of the Glenhaven HOA also argued in favor of the idea.

“We were not in favor of O’Dwyer’s project at first. But they have gone above and beyond to cooperate with us,” Neuringer said.

Glenhaven would not oppose the project at nine units per acre, or if the permeable building materials are used, then 10 homes would be acceptable.

Creekside Crossing HOA President Greg Barnhill also spoke in favor of the compromise. Using these porous materials would dovetail with Atlanta Regional Commission’s best management practices for new construction.

But the streets would belong to Johns Creek, and after O’Dwyer builds them, it would be the city’s job to maintain them.

As it stands, the city could not accept such streets from the builder because they do not meet code.

The project seemed at an impasse. Then O’Dwyer agreed to use porous materials on the driveways, sidewalks, patios and pool areas which do not come under the city’s purview.

That was agreeable to the citizens but it was still a narrow 4-3 vote to pass with council members Lenny Zaprowski, Stephanie Endres and Chris Coughlin voting nay.

“It’s a start,” said Corrigan after the vote. “It was just one more house to get the process started. At least [the City Council] is thinking about porous materials now.”

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