Part 2: Comp Plan Progress?

Given recent events with the city looking at controversial road widening projects, the Comprehensive Plan update project has taken on renewed public attention. This attention is a good thing. The Comp Plan is a very critical document for the city’s future with zoning, transportation, and more. Let’s continue with our analysis of the progress. This is Part-2 of a 2-part series.

For those citizens who attended or watched the videos, many public meetings associated with the Comp Plan update project featured outside speakers and consultants that most certainly promoted high density. One guy from North Carolina spent over an hour presenting busy 3D graphs to convey that high density means higher city tax revenue. Why is the premier residential community in Georgia persistently being subjected to this type of consultant bias? The 3-day workshop presentation document2 mentions high density on page 37. Here is a quote from that document. “Additional traffic generated by increased density is not significant”. The meeting videos showed that some CAC members were definitely swayed by this type of general consultant advice, especially the Business Community members. I do appreciate the tough job the CAC members had to recognize and sort through all the bias they were being exposed to.

Next, exactly how did the dense development proposal for the AAC property come about from the Comp Plan work? A city leader is on record saying it resulted from the CAC meetings with public input3. Yet the development rendering was never created in any CAC meeting that was made available to the public. The completed drawing first appeared in the 3-day workshop presentation document2 that was given to the CAC. In that presentation, the speaking consultant said “the city does think this (the AAC property) should be developed as one cohesive master plan area”4. So someone from “the city” had definitely given direction to the consultants. But not the CAC, and not the public. So the consultants went off and unwittingly stepped on a historic Johns Creek zoning case landmine which then triggered a written rebuke from the current AAC management. Why was the Comp Plan project proposing dense developments on private property?

Bottom line, we should all be quite concerned about the Comp Plan update. Skewed CAC representation, misdirected questions to the public, misleading public surveys, consultants advocating high density, chaotic CAC meetings expressing widespread opinions all over the place – that’s the progress we saw in the meetings. And at one point we learned there were “private draft” CAC surveys that were not intended for the public. According to the Director of Community Development, one of 12 CAC members apparently leaked some information about the McGinnis Ferry road widening from a “private draft” survey, and this type of public disclosure is not allowed5.

So with this backdrop, we all await the new draft Comprehensive Plan which is due to be released real soon. All we can do at this point is hope the outcome of this convoluted and chaotic project preserves and protects the exceptional residential community that is Johns Creek for the next 10-years.     

Sources:

(1) Resident Zones & CAC Member Residential Locations (city document showing demographic data and actual CAC membership)

(2) Connect Johns Creek, shape an exceptional future, Three Day Workshop

(3) City Manager at approximately 01:21:10 in the video from the Town Hall, Feb 22: johnscreekga_a664dcf1-48af-4571-8cab-19738f47768a.mp4

(4) Consultant at 43:22 into 3-day workshop presentation video: johnscreekga_89be1d3f-27a1-458d-82db-a528f03fe528.mp4

(5) Johns Creek Herald, March 8th “False alarm emails upset McGinnis residents”

Medlock Bridge Rd Congestion Relief: Proposal

Here is a concept for the City Council to consider that will provide a direct and exclusive use and traffic relief for residents.

Bury the power the lines and create a multi-use path for golf cart use on both sides of Medlock Bridge Rd. A wide path will allow for local residents to traverse to nearby areas, shops, and amenities etc. High School Students can go to school safely, by taking a golf cart on a dedicated path. Walkers, strollers & bicyclists can utilize these paths as well.

What Medlock Bridge Rd would look like with No Power Lines

A tree lined golf cart path will bring an aesthetic appeal to the community, and can improve our property values.

Burying the utility lines will bring reliability as storms disrupt service. Line Maintenance is easier and less frequent as well. This will also reduce the negative health impacts of overhead line (EMFs) electromagnetic fields.

The trees on Medlock Bridge Rd can grow, and will not need to be hacked every year.

So how can we do this?

It will cost approximately $7 million to bury 1 mile of distribution line and 3 miles of the high-powered transmission line from JCUMC to the river.

We have $18 million that has been allocated through TSPLOST for Medlock Bridge Rd.

Within the TSPLOST legislation, burying power lines is an approved authorized expense.

Code Section 48-8-121(b)(1)(D) Relocation of utilities for roads, streets, bridges, sidewalks, and bicycle paths;

A few months ago, hundreds of residents attended Town halls and Council Meetings to oppose Medlock Bridge Rd widening to 6 lanes. Why? Because non-resident would primary benefit.  

This is the one proposal that will be directly and exclusively for Johns Creek Residents.

If Medlock Bridge Rd is to be our “Premier Boulevard” as our Community Director has stated, let’s have that begin, by burying the power lines and making it a scenic road, that we can be proud of.

We have the money through TSPLOST. State Law will allow the City to utilize it in this manner, the time has never been better.

Atlanta Audubon Letter to City Council: Reject the Current Plan for Cauley Creek Park

Dear Mayor Bodker, Councilor Zabrowski, Councilor Lin, Councilor Davenport, Councilor Coughlin, Councilor Endres, and Councilor Broadbent,

I am writing to you on behalf of the board of directors, staff, and constituents of Atlanta Audubon Society to express our concerns about the proposed Cauley Creek Park Master Plan. We would like to encourage the Council to reject the current proposed master plan for Cauley Creek Park.

Atlanta Audubon Society believes that where birds thrive, people thrive. With nearly 1,000 chapter members and more than 3,500 National Audubon Society members, Atlanta Audubon represents a broad constituency united by a desire to protect birds and other wildlife through education, conservation, and advocacy. Our constituency includes residents of Johns Creek and birders that frequent its parks and greenspaces, including the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) park units.

The Cauley Creek Park Master Plan concerns us because of (1) the sheer destruction of habitat that would occur with the creation of the park, (2) human disturbance to remaining habitat, and (3) the increased erosion and pollution entering the watershed from new development.

Currently, the Cauley Creek property, adjacent CRNRA property to the west, and the river area of that borders these properties supports more than 135 species of birds. We know this because our constituency walks Roger’s Bridge Road south from Bell Road for bird watching and data has been recorded in the worldwide database, eBird. These bird species use the area for foraging, nesting, and protection. Some species come in the spring and summer to breed; some come in the fall and winter to pass the cold months where there are good sources of food and shelter; and some are year-round residents that call this area home.

American Kestrel may have to find a new home

Within this list of 135 are rare and threatened species, including the state-listed “threatened” Bald Eagle and state-listed “rare” Henslow’s Sparrow. These two species have been significantly impacted by pollution and habitat destruction over many years. Although the Bald Eagle is recovering in Georgia, this is due to active conservation efforts. Additionally, 38 of these species are considered climate-threatened or climate-endangered by the National Audubon Society. This means that local populations of these birds’ habitats will likely be affected negatively by the predicted changes to the Earth’s climate. You can imagine our concern when 30% of the species that this area supports are already threatened by larger factors out of our local control. If Cauley Creek Park is developed based on the proposed master plan, most of the birds inhabiting the area will be forced to find new homes.

It is important to note that the large, open, and undisturbed meadow habitat on the Cauley Creek property is much of the reason that the area supports so many different types of birds and wildlife. Grasslands have been one of the fastest declining habitats in the state of Georgia for decades. Species such as Northern Harrier, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, Bobolinks, Sedge Wren, and a handful of sparrow species depend on these habitats and have experienced declining populations in Georgia. Johns Creek is lucky to have such a habitat along the Chattahoochee River migratory corridor—it is special and unique, and it should be preserved as much as possible.

A secondary impact to the surrounding habitat of the proposed Cauley Creek Park is disturbance. While some area will be maintained as natural vegetative buffers, the vast increase in human use, vehicular traffic, light, and noise will impact the wildlife that lives in these small buffer areas and in the adjacent CRNRA property. Combined with the additional numbers of people utilizing the future greenway path along Rogers Bridge Road extending across the River from Duluth, there will be little opportunity for nesting birds and other wildlife to succeed. So in addition to direct loss of habitat, what will be left for birds and other wildlife will be of diminished value.

Eastern Meadowlark resides in the Cauley Creek Meadows

Our third concern is for water quality and the Chattahoochee River corridor. In 1973, the state of Georgia passed the Metropolitan River Protection Act, a forward-thinking piece of legislation for its time to help communities along the Chattahoochee River protect their drinking water supply. This Act protects land and floodplain within 2,000 feet of the River from land-disturbing activity, and gave authority to a regional development center (Atlanta Regional Commission, ARC) to create and adopt the Chattahoochee Corridor Plan. 

48 “Senior” LENNAR Townhomes Proposed for Medlock Bridge Rd

 

The proposed development is to be shoehorned between the 141 shopping center with Benjamin Moore & Medlock Bridge Subdivision.

The developer is aiming to market to seniors and empty nesters. Not sure where there are many older people that will want a 3 story home.

192 residential parking spots are indicated, with 14 guests spots, 206 parking spots total. With so much parking for cars, the traffic count report the developer submitted appears to be very low. The traffic count indicated 22 cars in the AM Peak and 31 PM Peak. This appears very low considering many homes have at least 2 occupants and 2 cars.

No amenities are provided with this Development.

Reports submitted to the City suggest they plan to utilize Medlock Bridge Subdivision’s amenities & facilities. A walkway path has been included in the plans, including a description of the Medlock Bridge amenities.

From the Developer’s Environmental Report, page 6:

To the west of the site is an existing community with amenity that has green space and active amenity that will be used by this development.

This site will provide additional residence to help protect green space and add residents to utilize the parks and recreation nearby.

Variances requested to reduce setback from 40ft to 10ft.

This is to MAXIMIZE the land and squeeze in more units.

Source: City of Johns Creek

$54 MILLION Cauley Creek Park: How Much is TOO Much

Although the City has earmarked $16million of the Park Bond to build out Cauley Creek Park, with the 30 year bond with approx 3.5% current rate, it will cost about $34 million with fees, interest, and principal.

This is on top of the purchase price of  $20.3 million.

Proposed Cost Breakdown

Purchase Price: $20.3 Million

Build out Price: $16 Million

Bond Costs: $18 Million

Total Proposed Costs: $54.3 Million

 

According to Councilman Chris Coughlin, the City could have saved $16 million in 3 or 4 years with current millage and appropriated to build out, rather than borrowing money.

Residents, would you rather see some of this money reallocated for other Parkland acquisition in Johns Creek?

Considering a New Roof? Here Comes the Tax Man

Residents in Johns Creek are finding the city’s adoption and stepped up enforcement of Permissive building codes and permits, et al, is having an interesting consequence beyond anything publicly discussed so far.

The consequence involves a visit from the Fulton County tax assessor. In some cases, these are homeowners who have lived in the same house for 20+ years and may have had projects done many years ago under totally a different permitting authority and different rules. Yet now, after all this time, the county has suddenly awakened and is following up to reassess for tax purposes.

For some homeowners, a new roof is triggering the visit. The roofer must obtain a permit from Johns Creek to do the roof work. But interestingly, no one ever sees any follow-up on the part of the city to inspect or approve the quality or “life safety” of the new roof. So for such a project, one might ask, why require a permit? Don’t answer yet, read on.

It seems the city and the county have new and improved communication channels. The new roof permit from the city is prompting the attention of county tax assessors. He or she will then pay you a visit and look at any house roofline changes, regardless of the age of the associated project. If you ask, the assessor will tell you which recent permit prompted their sudden diligence. No excuses are offered about the county’s non-existent reassessment follow-up over the passing decades!

Presumably, the new roof itself doesn’t change your home’s value assessment. But be aware, during the visit the assessor might ask if you have re-done your kitchen or finished your basement or added other finished square footage since your last reassessment. Your last assessment may have been when you bought your house! And you better hope your home builder accurately filed your homes’ taxable details at the time of closing. But relax. The silver lining here is that such reassessment increases won’t be retroactive.

With the city’s Permissive Code permit enforcement, it won’t be long before Fulton County tax assessors won’t need to ask you anything about changes to your home. They will already know the changes and the costs, as filed with the required city permits. Finishing a room in your house, for example, would require any number of trade permits, all of which could trigger a county reassessment. And I shouldn’t have to tell you that part of this tax money goes to Johns Creek. We are told by our current city leaders that we need to grow, urbanize, expand business presence, widen roads, and be competitive. All of this requires money!

No one is advocating the avoidance of property tax responsibility. It’s just interesting to note how tax reassessment diligence has suddenly improved and what is actually driving this. If you have followed the Permissive Code topic in city meetings, you might now understand why the city struggles to provide a clear list of project work that requires permitting. This might make the dots a little too easy to connect for citizens.

If you have lived in your home for a while and you have had a Fulton County tax assessor visit you recently to review house projects that are old or very old, perhaps you can share your experience below.

Letter to the Editor: Take the Cauley Creek Park design plan back to the drawing board

The city’s preliminary design plan for Cauley Creek Park is overly developed and completely out-of-place where this parkland sits in the city.

In comparing Cauley Creek to another high activity sports park – North Park in Alpharetta – we found that up to 2000 cars were generated on a busy day of weekend sports activity.  North Park has parking for only 659 cars.  It also has two entry points, is only 97 acres and houses only 8 softball fields and 2 multi-purpose sports field plus 7 tennis courts.

The preliminary Cauley Creek plan covers 133 acres, has parking for up to 1200 cars, is much more dense with 13 plus fields and amenities, and has only one entry/exit point. As proposed Cauley Creek will likely generate 3000-4000 car trips on Bell Road during a busy weekend of high activity.

Traffic on Bell Road is already significant during afternoon and evening hours when school buses are out and people are trying to get home from work. The expected traffic from this park would create additional traffic congestion weeknights and on weekends. Do we really want thousands of more cars racing to their next game or practice on Bell Road, even on the weekend?  Do we really want traffic jams 7 days a week on that tiny, two-lane road?

Part 1: Comp Plan Progress?

Given that the Johns Creek City Council fairly recently punted the decision of widening Medlock Bridge to the city’s Comprehensive Plan update work, and we know the Comp Plan team has already explored controversial aspects of the McGinnis widening, the Comp Plan update project has taken on renewed public attention. This attention is a good thing. The Comp Plan is a very critical document for the city’s 10-year future with zoning, transportation, and more. But let’s examine the overall Comp Plan update progress so far. This is Part-1 of a 2-part series.

Early on, a Citizen Action Committee (CAC) was formed. The demographic information1 that helped to seat the CAC membership shows Johns Creek to have approx 28,000 residential addresses and approx 1,600 commercial addresses. That’s less than 6% commercial addresses. But the subsequent actual makeup of the CAC showed the Business Community represented at least 26% of the committee, assuming that the 25% representing education, arts, and religious institutions were not also predisposed to support business interests. So, right from the onset, we do not have representation on this team that reflects the makeup of the Johns Creek community.

Next, the work included public workshops directed by consultants where things like consolidating Character Areas were being considered. In one particular workshop, half of my breakout team didn’t even know what a Character Area was. Furthermore, they had absolutely no knowledge of the current Comp Plan. Many citizen participants didn’t know what they were being asked. This problem was not limited to my breakout team.     

Next, we had an online city Comp Plan survey that was misleading at best. Some would say it was downright deceptive. For example, one question asked about expanding “workforce housing”, defined in the survey as “giving people who work essential services within the city (police officers, firemen, teachers, medical personnel, etc) the ability to live closer to where they work”. This question was calculated deception at its finest. There is no consistent or accepted meaning for “workforce housing”. The responses to this question could be interpreted to apply to housing for anyone of any profession. In fact, “essential services” could be anything the city or the business community says it is. Because of these problems, the survey was revised at least once since it went live to the public. The extremely low turnout of public respondents has been attributed to citizens that were discouraged by the leading questions and deceptive options, so they never completed it.

Letter to the Editor: Cauley Creek Sports Complex: Do We Have More Money Than Sense?

Yes, we need more playing fields for our kids and, yes, we would like the prestige of having a large, beautiful, and enjoyable complex with multi-use playing fields to be used in Johns Creek and surrounding areas. But, if we are going to create such a place (and spend sixteen million dollars doing it), we need to do it the right way, and not hurriedly proceed with a location simply because the acreage is available. This is, however, unfortunately, what the City is doing with respect to Cauley Creek Park on the 2-lane Bell Road, at Rogers Bridge Road.

The current plans for the 133-acre, currently-undeveloped park include, among other things, at least 13 playing fields and parking for 1,200 vehicles. Despite the enormity of the project, which is by far the biggest of the Johns Creek park buildouts, the City plans to install the sporting complex (let’s call a spade a spade, it is not a “park”) with essentially no investigation into whether the location is actually feasible.

For instance, while the City conducted a traffic study (completed in 2016 and just released to the public yesterday), the study concluded that current road conditions were insufficient for the complex, modifications would be needed, and that additional studies should be performed. The City, however, has performed no additional studies, and the traffic data used was from 2010 to 2015 – two or more years old at this point. This also did not include the impact of the 2 large subdivisions built in the area recently, Bellmoore (~650 homes) & Brookmere (194 homes).

Further, the City has not done, or at least not provided to the public, any environmental study regarding the impact the development will have on protected wildlife living in the area, no information as to the level of light and noise pollution (i.e., to what field lighting and PA systems will be installed), no information as to how this development will affect the security of this purely residential area, and no information on the cost to maintain the complex and whether the complex can cover its costs.

We need to put more thought into this before spending sixteen million dollars.

Support for building the complex at this location seems short-sighted.

A beautiful new location for children to play sports would be great, but is it really so great once you realize you will be sitting in miles (literally miles) of traffic on a two-lane road to get to and from games? Will it be so great when you realize you will have seemingly never-ending battles with residents over lighting, PA systems, and hours of operation?

Will it be so great when you realize the fields are on a floodplain, which leads to canceled games?

Do not let the glamor of the renderings fool you; we need to look at context. Let’s not rush into this, especially when we have an alternative location in Dean Gardens off Old Alabama.

Rivermont Community Garage Sale: May 19th & 20th

Maps will be given out at all participating houses.

Starting at 8 AM til 4 PM.

Watch for signs and balloons.

OVER 23 HOMES PARTICIPATING!

Off both, Barnwell and Nesbit Ferry Rds.

Tax Dollars Wasted on “Branding”: Logo that’s Similar to Beds Online

Were you held up in terrible traffic on the Medlock Bridge Rd last Saturday?

City Staff continues to waste the people’s money on implementing the City’s new logo.

Perfectly good Street signs (see the red circle below) are being replaced with identical signs, that also have the City’s new logo on the side.

Here is the new St Ives sign in blue to indicate it is a ‘private road’.

We wrote about the highly controversial logo several times. To recap:

City Council (who comprised of Lenny Zaprowski, Cori Davenport, Bob Gray & Steve Broadbent) & Mayor Bodker approved of the new $80,000 logo, quickly after unveiling it.

NO PUBLIC COMMENT was allowed or solicited.

City of Johns Creek’s logo is similar to Beds Online. A quick google search discovered this.

Nearly identical logos are for sale for a few hundred dollars on the web.

Had the City Council and Mayor allowed public participation and feedback, they could have learned this before wasting tax dollars, and discharging the consultants!

This matter was handled completely opposite in Alpharetta. They unveiled their new logo about the same time and had 2 weeks of public comment before approving. Residents there had heaps of praise for the timeless logo, that will be used for the next 100 years.

Sources: City of Johns Creek, Beds Online, City of Alpharetta

City Council LOSES Lawsuit

Whomp, whomp, the City continues to waste money on consultants and lawyers regarding Tech Park.

Despite the City’s grand plans to redevelop the private property, the landowners had a different vision for TPA land, sued the City and won.

Click here to read about the zoning hearing and subsequent lawsuit.

Here is the Final order & judgment.

City Council is expected to vote on it Monday night.

Letter to the Editor: Are we witnessing “Government Gone Wild” in Johns Creek?

Now that we have entered 2017 and the City Council post that Bob Gray left has been confirmed by the election of Chris Coughlin. Did you find that the most recent campaign between John Flores and Chris Coughlin was a bit strange?  Why would one candidate raise over $16,000 dollars in campaign money with 94% of the money coming from outside Johns Creek?

Did you also notice that name showed up again?  That’s right Landmark Communications ran the campaign for Mr. Flores….why does that name sound so familiar?  Oh, I remember, they ran the campaigns for Jay Lin who spent $65,000 and Nazeera Dawood who spent $36,000. Both raised significant contributions from OUTSIDE Johns Creek.

If I’m correct the city council post seat pays $15,000 annually?  The Mayor $25.000 annually, so why would you spend such amounts in an election?

Ever notice this name as a sponsor for many of the activities and events held in Johns Creek by the city “CH2M Hill?”  This is a contractor that has been around since the city began over 10 years ago.  Sandy Springs, Milton and Chattahoochee Hills all used this private company to roll out a city government minus Fire Department and Police Department. Sandy Springs, Milton and Chattahoochee Hills made changes after 5 years by bringing many tasks in-house and the balance put out for a competitive bid.  All of these cities realized significant savings but also realized many tasks brought in-house aligned the city government with the wishes of the citizens.
Sometimes based on the structure of the contract CH2M Hill makes more money by promoting more high-density building, expanding more roads, doing more projects (volume of projects) whether they are good for the benefit of the city and its citizens don’t matter.  CH2M Hill is no longer working with Sandy Springs and Milton, what do they know that we don’t know?
Johns Creek did reduce the scope of the contract with CH2M Hill but never put the balance of the contract out for competitive bid?  Why not? So who is this CH2M Hill anyway?
 –
Read a few links here and here, to get a feel of who and what they are.
– 
Part of the story of this company that has worked all over the United States includes some taxpayers being overcharged for work never completed. A CH2M Hill consultant who was being paid over $10,000 per month who bribed the Mayor of East Cleveland, Ohio to help land the contract for the 
Water system “no bid” contract. 
 
CH2M Hill contributes very sizable amounts of money to Federal Election campaigns and local election campaigns.  This includes ballot issues say “T-Splost” of Park Bond initiatives.  Ever notice how many mailers we all got in the mail on this specific issues?  The organizations hide under PAC (Political Action Committees) but consist of Road Construction companies that JC City uses and the attorneys who represent them.  Is this self-dealing, or just helping planning out future cash flow and work projects for themselves?
 
Johns Creek did save $4.5 Million by bringing some things in house for the City government but they still contract out Public Works and City Development.  The last item “City Development” explains why the (CLUP) Comprehensive Land Use Plan has been so blatantly biased, promoting the “re-birth” of a City Center, High-Density housing with a true Avalon envy for the GRAND PLAN. 
 
The questions still arise if you brought over the prized free agent from Dunwoody as City Manager Warren Hutmacher, why not let him put the contracts out for bid?  Or better yet bring the departments in-house?  Eliminate the conflict of interest….no?  Have your read the background of the 
City Community Development Manager?  Does experience with Housing Projects in New York City, Yonkers, Philadelphia, PA and (bankrupt) Bridgeport, CT. fit with what you want and expect from Johns Creek going forward?  
 
Have you even heard about SafeBuilt?  This is another contractor who the city uses for enforcing permits for home improvements, etc, within the city.  If you are the contractor and you get paid more by creating more rules and regulations do you think this could get out of hand?  Do you know where a majority of the ideas of what to permit or regulate comes from?
 –
The Blog “NextDoor” which the City is a participant in, the majority of the requests…..looking for a plumber, landscaper, carpenter, tile man, concrete work.  If you were to just read the blog daily for say two weeks and you are SafeBuilt, you would then present a windfall of fee opportunity to the City of Johns Creek.  Does this sound way overboard and way too much regulation in your life?  The structure of the relationship causes such events.  Just a few things to think about.     

 

GA6 Election Breakdown for Johns Creek

Observations

– 18,842 valid ballots in the Congressional election.

– 15,686 valid ballots in the City Council election

– 83.25% of Congressional voters voted in the city election.

– 16.75% drop off in voters (Did NOT vote in City Council election)

– No provisional ballots and only 10 mail-in ballots

– 2/3 of voters voted on election day

– 1/3 of voters voted early

– Highest voter turnout at Spruill Library 45.27%, followed closely by Autrey Mill (CCOS) 42%

– Lowest voter turnout at Ocee Elementary School – 20.51%

– Republican Candidates Total Vote 51.15%

 

City Council Election Results Breakdown

Observations

– Coughlin best districts Newtown area and Shark Fin

– Flores best districts Findley Oaks and JCUMC

– State Bridge voted 65.02% for Chris and 34.98% for Flores

– Thornhill voted 61.95% for Chris and 38.05% for Flores

– Shark fin voted 67.26% for Chris and 32.74% for Flores

– St.Ives/Medlock Bridge voted 66.75% for Chris and 33.25% for Flores

 

Intelligent Traffic Lights: Not as Advertised

Wow! After attending Council meetings for 3.5 years, City Council has FINALLY decided to discuss the Traffic Lights (thanks to Councilwoman Stephanie Endres) and staff has dedicated a WHOPPING 15 mins for Monday’s Work Session meeting.

There is a myriad of 5 programs all working with and against each other. No wonder there is so much traffic dysfunction within the City.

Of the 75 traffic lights within the City, ONLY 14 are on the intelligent traffic system!

Just 3 lights are listed as Full Adaptive, and 11 are listed as Adaptive. Less than 19% are under some level of Adaptive control by the ITS system.

An astonishing 40 lights are on a timed system, called “Time of Day”. These traffic lights are preprogrammed on general traffic patterns.

The light on McGinnis Ferry rd & Jones Bridge Rd has this timed system. Identified as one of the worst intersections on that main road, it is SHOCKING & disappointing this traffic light hasn’t been upgraded.

Currently, Forsyth County is on track to spend $30million to widen the road to the dismay of the local residents, and yet, no one from Johns Creek or Forsyth thought to improve the intersection for $30k first, to see if that provides the needed relief.

18 Lights are on another lighting program called “Traffic Responsive” with timing patterns based on traffic conditions.

Without some form of coordination between the different light management systems, chances are that the overall traffic management effort will be overcome by congestion or timing that cannot be adjusted in alignment with other changes made in the attempt to relieve traffic backups.
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Couple this with the quick light cycles at the major intersections, it is hard to get cars moving efficiently through the intersections, let alone the City.
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Source: City of Johns Creek

Letter to the Editor: Reflections on the Johns Creek City Council Election

The Special Election to fill the Johns Creek City Council Post vacated by Bob Gray is now complete, and the results have been finalized.  Chris Coughlin handily won the support of 63.81% of voters in an election that saw strong voter turnout.

With over 10,000 votes in his favor, Coughlin won more votes in a single election than any other candidate in Johns Creek’s ten-year history.  That is a remarkable achievement, particularly in light of the fact that this was a Special Election held in April.

So what drove the high level of voter participation and delivered a nearly 2-to-1 victory to Coughlin’s campaign?  I would suggest that four factors contributed to this outcome.

  • House District 6 Special Election Interest
  • Coughlin’s Preparation
  • Grassroots Support
  • Dissatisfaction with Current Johns Creek Leadership

Let’s take them one at a time.

Special Election Interest

There is no denying the fact that there was a groundswell of interest in the Special Election to replace Tom Price’s District 6 seat in the House of Representatives.  Democrat funds poured into the race in an attempt to wrest control of this seat that Republicans have held for decades, spurred by the strategy of uniting behind a Democrat candidate while Republicans conducted the equivalent of a Primary Election.  Both sides pushed a Get Out The Vote effort in order to achieve their objectives (the Democrats seeking to exceed 50% in order to avoid a runoff election, and the Republicans seeking to deny that threshold to their opponent).  The interest in that race certainly brought more people to the polls.

Coughlin’s Preparation

Chris Coughlin is not a newcomer to Johns Creek politics.  He ran for and won an election to complete a stub term in 2015, and narrowly lost the election for the subsequent term while being outspent by the eventual victor who spent nearly 14 times as much money as Coughlin did for his campaign.  In the interim between the completion of his stub term and his election win this past week, Coughlin has remained highly engaged in local issues and has continually advocated his brand of fiscally conservative solutions to the issues our city must address.  This level of continued engagement resonated clearly with residents who met with and attended the various candidate forums as well as meet-and-greet opportunities leading up to the election.

Grassroots Support

There is a growing level of grassroots involvement in Johns Creek.  Some recent developments have heightened the awareness of residents who have been disappointed, or even angered by events such as the proposals to erect a 400 foot tall cell phone tower in close proximity to schools and residential neighborhoods, the arrival of invasive billboards, proposals to widen roads that have far-reaching impacts on residents and private property, the delegation of decision-making authority for eminent domain seizure of private property to unaccountable officials in Forsyth County, failure to adequately address the ever-present and growing traffic congestion in Johns Creek, advocacy for increased urbanization, proposed development of “The District”, and the ongoing promotion of high density housing development despite a majority of residents’ opposition.  The result has been a growing groundswell of grassroots support for candidates who will put the interests of Johns Creek residents first, rather than those of special interests, or in pursuit of a future vision for the city that is anathema to the suburban residential character that most moved here to enjoy.  Chris Coughlin’s platform aligned with that grassroots development.

Dissatisfaction with Johns Creek Leadership

The previous point highlights the growing perception of a disconnect between Johns Creek residents and some of our city elected officials.  To be more specific, Mayor Mike Bodker made this Special Election a referendum on his leadership when he came out in strong support of John Flores, officially endorsing Coughlin’s opponent.  He is quoted in The Johns Creek Herald as stating, “While council is making perfectly fine short-term decisions, they lead to bad long-term consequences.  Meanwhile, what has been lost is a vision for the future of the city.”  The article makes that statement, “Bodker said he is tired of people talking about Johns Creek as if it were a city that was fundamentally broken.”

By jumping into the election and endorsing one candidate while talking down another, the Mayor put a stake in the ground.  He was joined in his endorsement by three City Council Members: Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Broadbent, Councilman Jay Lin (Chris Coughlin’s opponent in 2015), and Councilwoman Cori Davenport.  Those familiar with the workings of John Creek City Council will recognize that the Mayor and three Council Members vote in support of each other the vast majority of the time.  What the Mayor was attempting to accomplish was to add another member to the Council who he thought would be more likely to align with his vision for the city of Johns Creek.  There is a strong case to be made that in their block endorsement of Chris Coughlin’s opponent, the Mayor and three fellow Council Members actually hurt John Flores’ campaign because the voters recognized it for what it was: an attempt to stack the deck with a perceived ally, providing the Mayor ample support to pursue an agenda that is not aligned with the voters.

Despite what was a serious strategic error, Mayor Bodker is an excellent politician.  He is in equal parts persuasive, knowledgeable, hard-working, and dedicated to his job.  There is also an impression that he can overly authoritarian and vindictive.  He certainly has a vision for Johns Creek.  However, the development of grassroots opposition to several of his positions, and the overwhelming success of Chris Coughlin’s election despite the Mayor’s and three City Council Member’s endorsement, there is clear evidence that we have significant dissatisfaction with the leadership in Johns Creek.

Summary

The Special Election is now behind us.  The voting residents of Johns Creek made a bold statement in their overwhelming support for Chris Coughlin, and they sent a message of rebuke to the Mayor and fellow endorsers of Coughlin’s opponent.  The Mayor’s seat and Councilwoman Davenport’s seat are both up for election in November.  Will they learn a lesson from this week’s events, and will they adjust their positions to better align with the will and desires of Johns Creek residents?  The tide is changing and time will tell.

HUD Projects in Johns Creek: Deemed INELIGIBLE

In an interesting turn of events since Cityhood, Fulton County has enacted strict policies regarding spending and has deemed Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money the City of Johns Creek sought to spend on proposed projects are ineligible.

City staff spent many hours working on “ADA accessible fishing pier” for Shakerag park. The project included a wooden 30-foot-by-20-foot fishing dock and a 30-foot-by-40-foot wildlife observation deck at the lake.

Historically, HUD money grants are for “blighted” areas, not for mismanagement by the wealthiest City in Georgia. Fulton County saw the logic there, and “now requires income surveys to prove that those benefiting from a project are below the income thresholds”.

City Staff is recommending the HUD money be spent on “housing rehabilitation program in which homeowners apply for projects (typically in the $1,000 – $15,000 range such as replacement of a roof or HVAC system).” After the income eligibility is verified, a grant is provided.

Mayor Bodker has been the biggest advocate for the Federal HUD dollars.

Councilwoman Stephanie Endres and Councilman Chris Coughlin both have campaigned against the City taking HUD dollars, in an effort to cut any strings attached or unknown compliance requirements.

There has been much controversy nationally over the HUD money and the strings attached, forcing urbanization and a regulatory nightmare for local governments. President Trump is considering canceling the program to save the federal government $6Billion annually, this would not be retroactive and impact the funds the City has already earmarked.

We previously wrote about HUD in our series, “Social Engineering and Federal Overreach Coming to Johns Creek?” Read them here:

Part 1Part 2Part 3

What are your thoughts on the City seeking, advocating, and spending HUD money?

Source: City of Johns Creek

Ossoff WINS Big in Johns Creek

The GA6 race the nation was watching, had an eventful turn within the Creek.

What use to be solid Republican, has changed to lean more Democratic.

Below are the numbers of votes the top candidates got within Johns Creek.

Jon Ossoff: 9,034

Karen Handel: 3,480

Bob Gray: 3,153

Dan Moody: 2,057

Ossoff got more votes than the 3 candidates below him combined, 8,690.

Of interest is former Councilman Bob Gray. He littered the City with his yard signs for FOUR Months and had fewer voters from Johns Creek then expected. He received slightly more votes (3,153) than his 2014 City Council election (2,905), even though record turnout.

The only voting precincts Bob Gray won, were those that covered Country Club of South, where he resides. Jon Ossoff won the rest of the precincts handily. Karen Handel came in second for many of the precincts, earning her the coveted second place.

Source: Fulton County Elections

Letter to Editor: Chris Coughlin’s Victory Can Be a Very Positive Change for Johns Creek

Congratulations Chris Coughlin.  While I know that you cannot of your own accord change the direction of the City Council, I do know that you can move the conversation into the directions we need it to proceed. 
 –

While the majority does still lie with the FOUR who endorsed Coughlin’s opponent, the Council conversations during the Work Sessions and City Council meetings are in the eyes of the Public.  I hope that the right questions are asked so that we can get the answers on the record before us.  We will be watching. One of the FOUR, if they are listening to the points of view presented, will hopefully change their perspective and vote accordingly. 

I look forward to the discussions on traffic, our so called Intelligent Traffic Lights, actual traffic data, why we cannot work to improve the performance of underperforming intersections, as well as other opportunities within the world of transportation and commuting in and around Johns Creek.  

I look forward to an honest and frank discussion on business taxes, and the reduction of taxes for ALL Johns Creek businesses, as well as the reduction in regulations that do not add anything but challenges to business operations.  This is a conversation Coughlin started in 2015 and unfortunately, has not gone very far without Coughlin, despite the efforts of Council Member Endres. 

Johns Creek is indeed a great City, and I know Coughlin believes this.  Coughlin’s  approach to problem solving is not a product of Group Think, but a product of Critical Thinking.  I look forward to seeing the results of that Critical Thinking because defining the problems first and then pursuing the best solutions will yield better solutions than what we have been doing in the past: Starting with a solution preferred by a few on the Council and then working backwards to justify it. 

To the Four that endorsed Coughlin’s opponent- Are you listening?  You represent the same electorate that overwhelmingly voted Chris Coughlin to join you on the Council.  Coughlin did  not run a negative campaign.  Coughlin ran on the issues and offered solutions. Coughlin’s policies and principles for good governance were stated and discussed. Solving traffic issues, protecting the residents against higher density developments, reducing business taxes for all businesses, and doing it at the lowest possible cost to residents(even if they could afford to pay more) are the types of Council decisions we seek. 

What are you going to do with that information the voters have just provided to you?  Work against Coughlin’s clearly successful campaign based on ideas and supported by the voters of Johns Creek?  Or join with him and others and help keep Johns Creek the great city it is for the residents of Johns Creek?  I encourage you to each take a step back, and truly listen to the conversations and discussions that we will see occur during the work sessions and the City Council meetings.  Challenge your own beliefs on what is going on in Johns Creek and where we are heading. 

If you can have your beliefs challenged and at the end of the conversation, you still believe that is what best, then so be it.  But if you have your beliefs challenged and discover a better way, then I hope you take that opportunity and change your mind.  By doing so, all of Johns Creek will benefit, including yourselves.  

The choice is yours.  We are watching.