Brookhaven residents living near a proposed townhome development on Johnson Ferry Road are speaking out against the plans, raising concerns of increased traffic on the already busy road and potential flooding on the property where Nancy Creek runs through.
Majestic Investment Corporation based out of Hiawassee, Ga., is seeking to rezone approximately 13 acres at 1611, 1621 and 1659 Johnson Ferry Road, near Pill Hill in Sandy Springs, from R-100 (single-family residential) to R-A5 (single-family residential) to allow for 17 single attached townhomes that would be priced between $650,00-$850,00 per unit.
Much of the property is located on floodplains and the developer is proposing building on only about 1.5 acres.
The proposal goes before the Planning Commission Aug. 2. The city’s Community Development staff is denying recommendation of the project because the character area the parcels are in – the Lakes Character Area – only calls for single-family detached homes. If a townhome development is approved for this area, a precedent could be set for future similar developments, according to staff. The rezoning request is slated to go before the City Council Aug. 22.
Tom Platford of Majestic Investment Corporation declined to comment.
“We have not gone through the rezoning process yet so any comments at this time would be premature,” Platford said in an email.
In the Community Development Department’s memo to the Planning Commission, staff states the proposed development does not fit within density requirements set out in the city’s comprehensive plan.
“The Comprehensive Plan clearly discourages single-family attached dwellings in the Lakes Character Area. The plan recommends that future development within the Lakes Character Area be permitted only if it maintains the single-family detached character of the surrounding neighborhood,” states a memo to the Planning Commission from city staff.
Fay Ann Sherris, whose property backs up to Nancy Creek, said she and other residents in the area are “very proud” of the city’s staff for its recommendation, but several still plan to show up at the Aug. 2 meeting to ensure their opposition is heard.
“We are not opposed to residential usage of the buildable portions of the land,” she said. “But the current applicant does not meet those requirements … and we need to be mindful of the wetlands,” she said.
Sherris and her husband, Scott, helped spearhead an effort in 2011 when the private Concorde Fire Soccer Club sought a special land use permit from DeKalb County so it could build a soccer complex on the site. The SLUP request and proposed soccer fields ignited a firestorm of opposition from area residents and the plan was eventually dropped.
In 2015, Concorde Fire Soccer Club reached a deal with the now formed city of Brookhaven to uses its fields at Blackburn Park.
Sherris said the current proposal for townhomes brings up many of the same concerns she and other residents had six years ago – negative affects to the floodplain that could harm Brookhaven homes but also homes in nearby Sandy Springs as well as safety issues for those entering and exiting on Johnson Ferry Road.
“Natural vegetation helps soak up the water during heavy rains [and protects against flooding],” Sherris said.
“We would like to see responsible, smart development that fits within the character of the area within the community. We are also not opposed to the land becoming a green space,” she said.
After the Concorde Fire Soccer Club battle, Sherris and others formed the Brookhaven Conservancy to try to purchase the spot of land on Johnson Ferry Road that also includes a petroleum pipeline running through it. That effort fizzled, however.