Apartment Complex Permit Questions | Owner embroiled in investigation with Mayor Bodker

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Apartment Complex Permit Questions

On June 20th, 2016, Councilman Steve Broadbent made the motion to approve the apartment complex that is currently under construction on Medlock Bridge Rd & Bell Rd. It came before council under guise of a lawsuit, and there was no legal notice for the zoning hearing. Councilman Jay Lin described himself as “Very close to the Real Estate industry”. He seconded the motion. 

Broadbent cited concerns on spending potentially $100K for litigation fees in court for the case. (Ironically, in the very same meeting Broadbent gave an update on his pet project the ‘Strategic Economic Development Plan’ (SEDP) which has cost the City well over $100K on just 2 consultants…) 

During the Zoning Hearing, Community Development Director Sharon Ebert described the development distinctly and how it will have a “2 level structured parking garage which will include 225 parkings spaces in addition to 50 surface or on site parking to a total 275 parking spaces”. Mrs. Ebert also stated there will be a 2200 square ft restaurant & 300 square ft yoga studio, both open to the public.  

City Council voted 5-2 to approve these specific plans below, along with adopting this Ordinance document.

Approved Apartment Complex:

  • Mayor Mike Bodker
  • Steve Broadbent
  • Jay Lin
  • * Cori Davenport
  • * Bob Gray

*Not on Current Council

Denied Apartment Complex:

  • Stephanie Endres
  • Lenny Zaprowski

Below are the site plans submitted by the developer "Norsouth Development" & Approved by City Council

Bell Rd Apartments-Council Approved Site Plan
Has anyone seen a parking garage?
City Council Ordinance
From City Council Approved Ordinance

Apartment Complex Permit Questions

Below are the building permit plans approved by the Community Development Director.

This is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from what City Council Approved. 

Where the original plan was more natural space and landscaping, the current plan submitted for Permitting, is nearly all paved. 

The Parking Garage has disappeared. 

A double lane, perimeter road, now circles the entire facility. Parking spots engulf every available area. Will Seniors be able to back in and out of these tiny spots every day? 

Surprisingly, this “Senior Living” Facility has only 7 handicap parking spaces TOTAL!

Bell-rd-apartments-new-permit1
New Submitted Permit Plans

Pink = Setback

We’ve highlighted in Pink what appears to be ~47 parking spots in the Setbacks.

Below is from the City of Johns Creek Zoning Code of Ordinance: 18.3.1.

No off-street parking shall be permitted within the required setback for the front yard and the side corner yard. 

Yellow = Parking Lot Landscaping

We’ve highlighted in Yellow what appears to be ~87 parking spots are missing Landscaped Islands.

Below is from the City of Johns Creek, Zoning Code of Ordinance: 4.23.3.

Parking lot landscaping. At-grade, non-single-family parking lots shall provide minimum 10-foot wide landscape islands at the end of each parking bay, and a 10-foot wide landscape island every 6th parking space.

Concurrent Variances Approved...But Wait?!

City Council also gave special consideration and approved eliminating 40 ft landscaping strip on Medlock Bridge Rd and 25 ft strip on Bell Rd. This allowed the developer to squeeze the complex into the parcel. 

2 Questions: 

  1. Does eliminating the landscaping strip, allow the developer to place parking into the setback? 
  2. What about the south side of the parcel?  The developer did not request a variance for near the storage facility and the majority of the 32 parking spots in the setback (in pink) are there. 

Bizarre Zoning Application & Land Transactions

What makes this zoning case so unusual, the company that sued the City, Norsouth Development, is the not the Company who filed the permits to develop the property, Sojourn Johns Creek Venture Partners. Sojourn’s managing members are Richard Aaronson & David Dixon. David Dixon registered the LLC, and we found Richard Aaronson’s name buried in attached deeds to the property. 

As soon as the permits were issued on 11/10/17, Sojourn Johns Creek Venture Partners sold the parcel to another LLC managed by Richard Aaronson & David Dixon, to Bell Road Venture Partners LLC.

With this transaction as the ‘current owner’, Aaronson’s name is listed on this LLC publicly and his Atlantic Realty Partners is now currently preparing the apartment complex for marketing for rental for prospective tenants. It is expected to open this spring 2019.

Richard-Aaronson-Bell-rd-Apartments-2
Richard-Aaronson-Bell-rd-Apartments2
Bell Rd Apartment Land transactions

Developer was embroiled in investigation with Mayor Bodker

If there is 1 person responsible in Johns Creek for the amount of high density development in this area, we can all look toward Richard Aaronson. He has developed the entire western side of Medlock Bridge Rd, from Abbotts Bridge up to the Standard Club. He was even the applicant for the HUD apartment complex (Hearthside) across the way, that Mayor Bodker & Norsouth Development toted as an accomplishment during this rezoning hearing.

In 2013 City Council launched an investigation on Mayor Bodker for possible ethics violations, including receiving reduced rent ($300 per month) at Johns Creek Walk as well as free use of a vacation home owned by Aaronson. Subsequently, Mayor Bodker voted favorably to rezone Johns Creek Walk II, which included that HUD apartment complex (Hearthside) we noted above. 

Accepting a gratuity and then voting on a rezoning involving property owned by Aaronson is a violation of the city’s ethics code. In addition, Mayor Bodker allegedly violated the City Charter through abuse of powers by directing staff to issue occupancy permits for Johns Creek Walk, after the city denied the permits.  The ethics investigation was canceled after the election by the swing votes of Lenny Zaprowski & Cori Davenport upon their immediate swearing into office. 

Developer & Owner Campaign Donations to Mayor Bodker

Both managing members of Sojourn Johns Creek Venture Partners donated to Mayor Mike Bodker. Only David Dixon’s campaign contribution was reported on the original zoning application, as required. 

David Dixon - Bodker Campaign Donation
Richard Aronson Donations to Mayor Bodker

Other Established Relationships on Council

Councilman Steve Broadbent is on the Fulton County Development Authority. It was only a few months (3/2016) prior to this vote he saw Richard Aaronson regarding a Letter of Inducement for the issuance of an astounding $50,000,000 in taxable revenue bonds. This wasn’t the first time either ($84,000,000 taxable bond in 2014)…

Mr. Aaronson himself came to the meeting and discussed the community input. In contrast, that is something Johns Creek has lacked from him, with all of his development activities here…

Below is a snippet from the Fulton County Development Authority meeting minutes. 

Mr. Aaronson informed the Authority that community input has been a major factor in the configuration and design of this project so that it will not “overshadow” the adjacent historic single-family neighborhood. Mr. Nash recommended approval of the project. Upon a motion made by Dr. Jolley, which was seconded by Mr. Broadbent and Dr. Maupin, the Authority unanimously approved the letter of inducement for Grant Park Venture.  Click here for the full PDF document…

Apartment Complex Permit Questions Remain...

Where are the traffic improvements that was promised for Bell Rd & 141 intersection? They were to be implemented before the development, which is now slated to open in Spring 2019. Empty promises on congestion relief?

Why did City Staff feel so compelled to approve permits for plans that are so different from what City Council approved?

Likewise, at what point did City Council voting decisions become irrelevant in zoning cases?

Was saving the developer an estimated $4million dollars from constructing a parking garage, a consideration for City Staff, when approving these permits?

Was additional impervious space added to development?

Finally, was the City zoning ordinances overlooked, when issuing the Permits?

When did Mayor Bodker realize his longtime friend Richard Aaronson was involved in this apartment complex development?

Had Richard Aaronson been an applicant, would Mayor Bodker recuse himself?

Mayor Bodker has missed several City Council meetings and town halls lately. Has he been vacationing at Richard Aaronson’s home, again?

Lastly, did Mayor Bodker violate the City Charter through abuse of powers by directing staff to issue these permits?

Sources: Fulton County Property Records, Fulton County Deeds Office, City of Johns Creek, Fulton County Development Authority, WSB-TV & Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.


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12 thoughts on “Apartment Complex Permit Questions | Owner embroiled in investigation with Mayor Bodker”

  1. Preschool teacher

    I thought something fishy was going on with that development.
    Who has construction workers,
    work on Christmas?
    They were hustle all through our morning services.

  2. So what else is new???? BODKER needs to GO along with his cronies!!! Toooooo many years this crap gooon!! He has ruined JC!!!!

  3. Open picture below to view the Mayor’s Planning Commission forthcoming suggested mode of driving to reduce congestion on Medlock Bridge Road. They will be recommending “their” driver training company for us to develop our skills. Prices to be determined.

    1. Photo did not make the trip, but you can see at the start of the article. Also this mode of travel will allow the wedged driver to text while riding since the two vehicles on either side are making maneuvering decisions.

  4. You are too young to have seen the TV Series Dragnet, but try and catch a clip. In each show, Detective Friday would say, ” T want the facts Mr., just the facts.” You know that is all we are asking for as well.

  5. Must admit I had to howl at the comments from the NASA retiree! Very poignant. Having said that I shouldn’t be laughing. The situation is beyond pathetic and sad. Mayor Bodker I urge you please pay attention to what you’re doing. Your children will have to bear the results of whatever you do now. In other words they’re looking to you for guidance love and direction in life. Wait a minute I’m looking to you for direction and guidance you can give your wife to love! Carole Madan momma nature

  6. It’s WAY TOO LATE to stop this train-wreck.

    This kind of thing repeats itself over and over and over…

    The wizard remains behind the proverbial curtain. Corny I know, but it fits here.

    Discovery of questionable realities like this seem to become apparent only after it is too late to effectively oppose or stop.

  7. Come and Get me Che!

    Let’s face it – mayor mike guevera doesn’t give a damn about what his constituents think He is too good for our opinions. Hell – if he doesn’t agree with you, he’ll threaten to sue you. Can you imagine the high value news story of a crooked, shady mayor suing a constituent because he didn’t like what was said about him? I could have so much fun with that. I bet mayor che guevera has a sign in his office that says “Who says crime doesn’t pay?”

    He is truly not looking out for the best of Johns Creek.

  8. Where are the traffic improvements that were promised for Bell Rd & 141 intersection? They were to be implemented before the development, which was slated to open in Spring 2019. Is that still the opening date?

    If you are an elected official in Johns Creek and ran your campaign for open and honest accountability to the citizens of Johns Creek, you owe the citizens an answer. If you did not promise openness and honesty then you need not answer.
    My family lives in this area, two churches with two schools operate within walking distance of this intersection. Tell us how you plan to make this intersection and the entrance and exit into and out of the apartments safe…

  9. More traffic! Noooooooooooo. It already takes me 45 minutes each way to get from Suwanee where i live, to JC where I work.

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