Category Archives: John Bradberry

Letter to the Editor: Johns Creek is at a Crossroads

Like most, I’ve been concerned about the direction of Johns Creek.  Zane Edge’s article on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) update was well-written and important, but unfortunately, the mischief surrounding the plan is not surprising.  It highlighted yet more examples of our city government “going rogue”.  To Zane’s point, we need to remain vigilant in the CLUP update.
 –
Let’s be frank: the City, either by Community Development or through that department at the direction of city “leadership”, is pushing an urbanization agenda that targets the greater region as the “beneficiary”.  In many cases, the weight of these regional benefits are carried on the shoulders of Johns Creek taxpayers; these benefits often come at the expense of our community’s sacrifice.  After so many real world actions repeatedly pointing to this, we can only conclude that this is, in fact, their agenda.
 –
Case in point:  “In August 2014 the applicant JC Flex, LLC, requested a rezoning of the 6900 Block of McGinnis Ferry Road and 11300 Block of Technology Circle which encompasses three parcels totaling 19.40 acres from M-1A (Industrial Park District) condition to CUP (Community Unit Plan District) to develop 53 single-family lots at a density of 2.73 units per acre.” (Source: Council Agenda Report on the case)
 –
Community Development recommended denial for this rezoning from high-intensity usage to low-intensity residential usage.  The Council agreed to the denial.  The applicant sued Johns Creek and won.  Why did the applicant win this judgment?  They won because our city council had granted zoning variances to other developers that were then used as precedents to justify overriding the initial denial.  In effect, by granting variances to established zoning, our city council handed the applicant the tools with which they could easily defeat the initial denial.  We have seen this many times over the last several years.
 –
In the recent Order handed down from the Fulton Superior Court, the City’s priorities were revealed.  According to the Order, the City Staff’s testimony was essential, “the City wants more commercial property, but that the City has ample supply of residential property and does not need anymore.”  So despite our repeated calls for maintaining Johns Creek as a bedroom community, our government is often working at cross-purposes to the desires of current residents.
 –
You can read the full court order here:
 –
This zoning case is just more evidence of the pattern that we have seen.  That pattern is having a very real effect in Johns Creek.  The most recent CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) illuminates some disturbing trends.  Commercial property has increased in value by $272 million from 2007 to 2016, a rise of 39.31%. On a per capita basis, commercial property has increased by 17.10% over the last ten years.
 –
Compare commercial with our residential property values.  They have increased in value by $197 million from 2007 to 2016, a rise of 6.13%. On a per capita basis, residential property has DECREASED by 10.79% over the last ten years.  Likewise, per capita income has decreased by 32.39% over the last ten years. Eventually, these changes in demographics are going to impact our safety, schools, and home values.
 –
Some might characterize the above as “negative”.  Similar claims were made during the recent City Council election as one of the candidates raised very valid questions regarding the direction of our city.  Some might call into question my own love for Johns Creek for raising these issues and asking these questions. Let me be clear: My love for Johns Creek is a big 10, but my level of concern is also a 10.  Johns Creek is at a crossroads and everyone who loves this community should also be concerned.
 –
The next election will have far-reaching effects on our future as a community.  We will have two choices.  We can either return to our original vision of protecting the quality of life by preserving our traditional residential character or stay on our current path.  That path will continue to bring ever higher density, urbanization, and now, the threat of local roads widened into thoroughfares and thoroughfares into highways.  If we stay on this path, we will soon experience the full weight of the agenda that will irreversibly make us a pass-through part of an increasingly urban region.  We can’t let that happen.
John Bradberry
Preserve Johns Creek