Category Archives: Tom Corrigan

What does Johns Creek, GA, and Houston, TX have in common?

Houston, TX is a very large city in the USA, now ranked #4 in population and size. So how could little Johns Creek have anything in common?  Recently we witnessed some horrific flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, so….how does this apply to Johns Creek?

Remember that Houston is the fastest growing city in Texas over the last 5 to 7 years with a 23% increase in population and housing.  Who is the fastest growing city in North Fulton County measured by density? Johns Creek is more DENSE per square mile than Roswell and Marietta.
Houston is much bigger in land mass and millions of people live there, how can we have any issue similar?  Let’s explore a historical problem that the current leadership in Johns Creek really doesn’t want to address. Storm Water management, what is that?  All of your highways, roads, parking lots, schools have storm drains which capture the rainwater and send it on its way. So why should I care?  Where does it go?
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As we continue to develop, build, expand more buildings, roads, highways, parking lots we create less and less land that naturally absorbs rainwater. The compounding effect is much GREATER volume and much GREATER velocity (speed) of water that is no longer absorbed by the undeveloped land.
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The current stormwater management system was put in place by Fulton County and the state via (GDOT). The low lying area’s within Johns Creek have retention ponds with earth dams designed to catch the stormwater runoff and slowly release the excess into the Johns Creek or tributaries that lead to Johns Creek or the Chattahoochee River.
The financial structure of this arrangement is that by law the subdivisions or neighborhoods that have these detention ponds must maintain the condition of them at their expense. This costly burden on the homeowner associations benefits the whole City including visitors who travel our roads, and highways safely whenever we have a rain storm. Is this a fair and equitable arrangement created by government?
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When Johns Creek became a City, those of us aware of this problem were excited we would get the better attention and solutions to our problem, but after 11 years, it has been ignored.
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Allow me to take you through a bit of history and show you the “dirty underbelly” of aggressive growth and high density. The picture below was taken in 2000, this is a backyard in Stonehaven that the Johns Creek river splits the owner’s yard in half. The bridge was built in 1993 the width of the creek/river was 35 feet wide. The water never reached within three feet of the bridge ever. 

In 2009 in the same backyard during the flood, in the middle of the picture below is a locked sewer cap and raw sewerage is coming out. This is NOT in the creek/river but as you can see somehow the sewer system becomes pressurized during the flood. 

The tool shed sitting on a 6-inch concrete pad was 40 feet from the creek bank.

In the 2013 Flood, note the fallen tree that is crashing into that very bridge. While in 2009 was only three years after the city was formed you can see what growth and development can do to a small little creek.

The development of all the property adjacent to the Standard Club on Medlock Bridge Rd, the Mixed-Use Development “Johns Creek Walk”, the Catholic Church and Jewish Temple on Parsons Rd, Emory Hospital also added more development and hardscape. You MUST develop greater infrastructure to deal with these stormwater events BEFORE you widen roads or develop the land. 

Is this the only location in Johns Creek with this issue?

NO, according to the City Manager Warren Hutmacher there are over 110 similar issues regarding stormwater and retention ponds.

Does the city provide any financial assistance to the subdivisions who have these retention ponds that capture all the stormwater runoff and silt from the roadways, parking lots, schools that contribute to this problem? NO.

This is a historical problem that is only growing worse.

The creators of these issues are the state of GA in the form of (GDOT), Fulton County and now for 11 years, the City of Johns Creek. The erosion continues and that sleepy little creek has gone from 35 feet wide to about 55 feet wide. Over 13 trees were lost in the 2013 flood and the shed with about 800 lbs of tools floated away. Fortunately, the shed was stuck between some trees so the owner was able to salvage some tools. A 700 lbs covered swing was swept away.

So as you can see this is very dramatic, yet more development is planned as we discuss this. I have brought up this subject many. many times to the Mayor and City Council and most recently the other night to the Planning Commission. The only thing I can say from my observation is we just might be trying to become the next Houston, TX which would really be sad.

The irony of it all, we form a new city called “Johns Creek” yet we abuse this small body of water which is our namesake? WE NEED T-SPLASH NOT T-Splost first before you actually harm people. This is a safety issue if we continue the “Ostrich” approach of ignoring the issue as the current leadership has done.

Since we’ve become a City 11 years ago what has been done to improve our stormwater management? Absolutely NOTHING…..why? Who in our local government has been here the whole time?

Tom Corrigan

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?
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Read a few links here and here, to get a feel of who and what they are.
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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?
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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.