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4 Giant Electronic Billboards to be Erected

eyesore_billboardAs a result of the Settlement the City Council approved in Oct 2014, Billboards are coming soon to a corner near you!

The Billboard companies had 31 permits for locations they specified many years ago, in applications to Fulton County. They had the ability to erect these Billboards since a court order on June 13th 2011.

Astonishingly, the Billboard companies have not erected a single billboard in over 1500+ days.

Why have they taken so long?

What was wrong with the 31 locations they won at court?

The Settlement the City negotiated gave them primarily ALL NEW Locations.

All 4 Billboards are NEW SITES.

If the City did not settle, these Billboards would not exist.

  • 2 on Holcomb Bridge Rd (near Barnwell & Nesbit Ferry Rd)
  • 1 on McGinnis Ferry Rd (near LA Fitness, EJCH)
  • 1 on Fox Rd (Corner of Abbotts Bridge & Jones Bridge Rd)

141 to have 3 Lanes for Thru-Traffic

City Council has decided to convert the bike & acceleration lanes on 141 to additional car lanes during rush hour traffic. With this striping project, the current 2 lanes will be narrower to accommodate the 3rd lane.

There will be an increase in volume through green lights wherever the two lanes through becomes 3 lanes.  But it will be less than 50% as the right turn traffic will also be sharing that lane.
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Concerns over safety, question the project as residents in subdivisions and patrons from shops wanting to enter 141 will have difficulty merging and crossing over to the turn lanes.
Cyclists will still be able to use the lanes. They are not prohibited from using the road, though it will make it more dangerous.
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The only other flex lanes in Georgia are on 400.
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Changes of this magnitude would require a public outreach, modeling, & safety evaluations completed prior to any GDOT approval.
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It is expected this project to coincide with the ThrU intersections.

 

Vapor Stores Proliferate in the City

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Are E-Cigarette stores now the new problem child of Johns Creek and replacing the Massage Parlors?

There are now 5 Vapor stores within the City. 3 are within close proximity of schools.

Much of the marketing is geared toward flavors that teens are attracted too.

What are your thoughts on E-Cigarettes & Vaping?

City Purchases Land Under Power Lines for Park

  

  

 The City made its first land purchase for park space this summer. Spending $640,000 for 4 acres on Morton Rd. Part of the land was owned by GA Power.

High Powered Transmission Lines traverse through the area. As Johns Creek grows, so does its power consumption and more lines could be added in the future.

The City had the option to lease the land for $1/year for 50 years, but opted to own it outright, even though it was highly unlikely to ever be developed.

A roundabout is being constructed on Bell & Boles Rd. A small pocket park is to be adjacent to the intersection.

It is unknown when both pocket parks will be ready for use.

High Density Apartments ~ Where’d this come from?

With the City encouraging multiple Property Owners in Developing High Density Apartments in the District, it comes as no surprise with the recent hire of Sharon Ebert as Director of Community Development, who was found from a Nationwide Search.

This new City Employee comes with extensive experience in Public/Private Development of Low & Mixed Income housing for the Bridgeport Housing Authority.

From demolition to collecting public housing operating subsidies ($2.3 million Aug/Sept 2014) from the Federal government, her previous experience with HUD programs & housing redevelopment casts a possible light in the direction the City is heading.

Bridgeport Housing Authority manages more than 2,800 Housing Choice Vouchers. Residents are required to pay 30% of the rent and federal government pays the remaining 70%, which Bridgeport Housing Authority facilitates.

 In Johns Creek City Charter there is an Ordinance covering affordable housing. There is various info about Density Bonuses, and how developers can donate land to the City.

Sec. 4.26. – Inclusionary Housing Zoning.

A New Lender is now located in Tech Park and is listed on HUD website that was approved 3/3/15.

Johns Creek has taken yearly Federal Funds / entitlements from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The CAPER is report of how they spent those funds and what steps the City takes to overcome various barriers such as affordable housing, and underserved needs.

the City is unable to control the price of real estate within its borders. While this may effect availability of affordable housing, the City has taken steps towards encouraging multiple property owners in the development of high density housing in conjunction with a city center economic development plan. City of Johns Creek HUD CAPER report.
The report also states “The Mayor of the City continues as an active participant at the Atlanta Regional Commission, particularly as an advocate for public transit.”

Also indicated was that shade structures have been built for public transit. The UDA Renderings for an 8 lane Medlock Bridge Rd include dedicated MARTA lanes.

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Sources: City of Johns Creek, Dept of HUD

Wish List! City’s 10 Year Capital Projects = $200 million

We requested this List after hearing of the ‘Revenue’ Needs that has been the proponent for the District.

During the 1st District Community Meeting the cost was $139 million. The needs have increased $60 million in 2 months.

It is also important to note that the City does not currently have a 10 year budget forecast, they manage year to year.

*Another important fact omitted is that many of these Road & Corridor improvements are largely funded with Federal & State money, Not 100% local.*

Here are some highlights:

  • $54 million Park items 
  • $6 million City Swimming Pool, Gymnasium etc.
  • $6 million New Fire Station (For the District?)
  • $5 million for Sidewalks
  • $2.5 million Pedestrian Crossing Bridges
  • $1.5 million Morton Rd Park (Near High Power Transmission Lines, per Work Session Discussion?)

Newtown Park Improvements $8 million +

  • Parking Garage $ 3 million
  • Turf Fields $ 4 million
  • Dog Park expansion $450K
  • Tennis & Field Lights $700K

Much More… 

Consolidated-10-Year-Capital---Pre-District-Plan-1Consolidated-10-Year-Capital---Pre-District-Plan-2

Consolidated 10 Year Capital – Pre District Plan -XLS

Consolidated 10 Year Capital – Pre District Plan -PDF

Source: Warren Hutmatcher, City Manager of Johns Creek

Apartments Galore in the ‘District’

Due to the large size of area, Urban Design Associates divided into 6 sections.

over_view

 

Canal District

Proposed to be the first developed, 3 vacant lots (6 acres) are owned by TPA (Tech Park Atlanta). Hilton Garden Inn owns the adjacent empty lot. 3 office buildings in this area have approx 30% vacancy. 1 building is empty.

Here is a rendering of the Existing Conditions.

canal_existing

The creek bed, wooded stream would be converted into a ‘Canal’, with restaurants and retail facing the water. Most surrounding buildings are residential.

canal_1_massing

Color Key

Retail___Apartments___Townhouses

Commercial___ Cultural___ Parking

 

canal_1

 

Option 2 for the Canal District

Landmark building heights of 12-20 stories. Also current commercial buildings remaining.
Purple Buildings indicate existing buildings. In the distance, Pink Building is City Hall, with half acre Village Green.

 

canal_2_massing

 

canal_2

 

Lakeside 

Existing Conditions

Lakeside_existing

South of Canal District would comprise of City Hall, retail, Lake/Pond Amphitheater and more apartments/ TR surrounded by small community park/trail.

Lakeside_1

 

In Option 2, City Hall would have a half acre Village Green, more parking and less green space.

 

Lakeside_2

 

Southside

Southside

 

More & More Apartments…

 

Southside_Rendering

 

State Farm

Statefarm

As a possible College Extension Campus with Apartments & Townhomes…

Statefarm_1

 

Or Primarily More Apartments, few Townhomes & few retail.

Statfarm_2

East End

This land is currently in litigation. City Council denied TPA rezoning of this land for 53 houses. Now City Council’s consultant UDA is recommended Apartments and Townhomes….Eastend_existing

Eastend

Westside

For the Westside, where LA Fitness, Chilis, IHOP etc is, Urban Design envisions distant long term plans of redoing the current Retail to more condense shops surrounded by apartments.

The land around the current City Hall would also be filled with More Apartments & Townhomes!

Westside_existing westside

Complete Charrette Presentation can be seen here.

So what do you think of potentially the Largest Redevelopment Project in Georgia?

City Council would like your feedback.

electedofficials@johnscreekga.gov

Frontpage image of proposed 8 Lane changes to Medlock Bridge Rd.

Renderings Source: City of Johns Creek

Commercial Building Data: Johns Creek Advantage

Newtown Park Amphitheater Sounds the Alarm

no_parkingNewtown Park was originally intended as a community, neighborhood park and has instead turned into full scale, City-Wide recreation centerpiece.

According to adjacent neighbors in the Chartwell Subdivision who spoke out during public comment Monday, Traffic, Overcrowding & Noise have become serious problems for the area.

Newtown Park was Not intended to become Chastain Park or Verizon Amphitheater, but with the City’s robust concert program, events & weekly farmer’s market, concerned citizens asked the City to reconsider the potential Amphitheater rental policy.

City staff recently removed the buffer of many trees and bushes that bordered the Chartwell subdivision for a trail. This deforesting of a natural barrier has increased the noise level for the residents. The Amphitheater is positioned facing the houses, putting them in the direct path of the sound waves.

One citizen urged the City to acquire park land immediately, to reduce the demand on Newtown. She indicated that undeveloped land is quickly disappearing and the City should prioritize Parks before more commercial development like the ‘District’. She stated the City can always build buildings, but not Parks.

The City has allocated a $100k this fiscal year for another… Park Study.

City staff will meet with the Concerned Citizens about the issues raised and City Council tabled the Amphitheater Rental Policy to the April 27th meeting.

‘No Parking’ Photo Source: Google images

 

 

 

141 / State Bridge Rd Reconfiguration Concepts

The City Hired Parsons Brinckerhoff for $38k to compile the following presentation of 2 concepts.

141_1

 

The First Concept is the ThrU Intersection. It eliminates Left Turns from the intersection and creates a U-Turn in the Median, for cars to make a right and then U-turn to go instead of a traditional Left.

This will have cars enter the intersection twice.

For example: Cars driving from St Ives/Medlock Bridge Subdivision want to go to Target. They will need to make a right at State Bridge, going West. Then make a U-Turn by Pikes and drive straight through the intersection to enter.

 

141_2

Another example is the commuters driving North on 141 and need to go West on State Bridge Rd.

Currently there is 2 Left Turn lanes (700 feet, 350 feet in length).

The proposed U-Turn lane would be a Single of 350 feet in length. Also an additional light would be needed for the westbound traffic to stop to allow for the U-Turns.

Logistically, U-Turns are slower to maneuver than Left Turns. They are also more challenging for buses, trucks and emergency vehicles.

This concept is proposing a Marginal 12-13% improvement in Capacity.

The Wide Ranged Cost is $2-4million.

141_2a


 

The 2nd Concept Integrated a Continuous Flow Intersection with the ThrU Turn.

The proposed capacity improvement for this was even less at 4-6%.

 

141_3

Below shows the Comparison and percentages.

141_4

 

141_5

This study does not address projected population growth within Johns Creek & rapid development in Forsyth County, as well as estimated delay when the proposed intersection reaches capacity and beyond.

It seems an unusual process for the City Council to adopt options and submit to GDOT, and then have the public involvement process last.

It would behoove the City to involve the Public first, before moving forward with the plans.

 

141_6

Complete Slideshow: SR 141 at State Bridge Presentation to City Council 03/16/15

Updated with additional wording in Red.

Source: City of Johns Creek

Signage examples:

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Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 7.39.58 AM

Signage Photos: Virginia DOT

Subdivision Paving to Cost 25% More Than Expected

The City adopted a Neighborhood Paving Plan in 2014. The goal is to resurface and pave 70 Subdivisions between 2015-2019.

The City took a $4 million Georgia Transportation Infrastructure loan from the State Road and Tollway Authority. The City allocated $1.5million in the 2015 budget to paving.

The combined $5.5 million was to pave 35 Subdivisions in 2015.

During the City Council Strategic Planning Workshop, it was stated by the City Manager that the cost has significantly increased by 25% or $1.5 million, and the $5.5 million will only pave 25 of the 35 Subdivisions.

Bids came in much higher than expected, even though the price of oil has significantly dropped. Asphalt is a combination of tar & gravel.

Bids were sent out in January and received in February. This gives little time to rebid and get the project done during the warmer months, according to Councilman Broadbent.

City Council will move forth with paving the 35 Subdivisions by taking out $1.5 million from the reserve funds. The total cost will be $7 million dollars.

Below is a list of the 35 Subdivisions:

2015_paving

Source: City of Johns Creek

Photo:pavingatlanta.com

Super Tower Consultant Contracts & Cost Questioned

The City of Johns Creek hired the same consultant for the Super Tower to develop the 2nd tower in the Shakerag area.

In reviewing the documents received from the City, many questions remain regarding the rehiring of Engineering Associates (E.A.) in a No Bid, None Competitive Process, as the consultant is an Engineer-in-Training.

Super Tower

400_tower
400′ Tower example.

Much controversy revolved around the quality of work performed by E.A. over the recommended placement of a 400′ Radio Tower with High Intensity Strobe Lights near houses & schools.

Lack of common engineering options to reduce tower height were also omitted.

The City originally hired E.A. for $22,040 in 2013, through a RFP for a ‘Needs Assessment’.

The City utilizes the State of Georgia’s Procurement Registry. This allows for a competitive bid process and Free Market Capitalism.

The City did not utilize this approach for the Super Tower, instead rehired E.A. for $45,950. The City also purchased land for the SuperTower, paying $150k for 1 acre lot behind Pikes Nursery.

Due to public outrage, City Council backtracked and cancelled the Super Tower project after spending $195k+ plus countless staff hours & resources on the project.

Questions remain about an invoice from E.A. dated 9/17/2014 for over $8k for the rejected Super Tower work. That contract should have been terminated and an effort been made immediately to minimize costs to the City, but was paid out 3 months after that contract concluded.

Tech Park/Shakerag Tower

A Request for Proposal (RFP) should have been issued for the Tech Park/Shakerag Tower.

Instead E.A. was rehired a 3rd time in another noncompetitive, no bid contract for $48k. There are No records of other vendors solicited or Request for Quotes (RFQ).

This current contract indicated that E.A would invoice on an hourly rate of $145. Invoices submitted and paid by the City do not display that, see below example for invoice of $20k…

EA_invoice

It is also unknown as to why the Tech Park Tower contract is costing more then the Super Tower.

The building plans are same, only the height has been changed from 400′ to 195′ and the land survey is for the new location.

The plans are not to scale, and include the strobe cables for the strobe lights to warn off aircraft, which is unnecessary due to the lower height.

The building plans also include Obsolete Antennas that are no longer manufactured and are inferior, with Marginal Survivability in High Wind.

Tower_plans

The structure is also engineered with materials to be 400 Feet High, which could incur unnecessary costs to the taxpayers.

Additional questions remain as to why a Self Supported Tower is being used instead of a monopole.

Decatur and Grady Counties, Georgia are using 195′ monopoles for the same P25 system. Also in Washington D.C. for their extensive emergency services & Capitol Police.

Monopole_1
195′ Public Safety Monopole

According to wirelessestimator.com, monopole antenna structures offer significant cost savings dues to the manufacturing, delivery & installation. They also blend well into the environment and due to the interior placement of the cables and wires, have less wear and tear.

The total cost to the taxpayers for the tower construction has not been disclosed.

SuperTower land cost $150k.

The Shakerag Tower location will cost $320k.

When the final E.A. contract has been paid out, that total cost will be $116,710.