The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously Aug. 22 to deny a developer’s request to build 17 townhomes on Johnson Ferry Road near Pill Hill because the proposed development does not fit in with the comprehensive plan for the area.

The council vote follows the city’s Community Development Department recommending denial of the proposed development and the Planning Commission’s vote earlier this month to also recommend denial based on land use. The property is near the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange that includes Nancy Creek at the southeastern boundary of the property.

A Google image showing the location where a developer wants to rezone three parcels of land on Johnson Ferry Road, including 1659 Johson Ferry Road, to make way for a townhome development. (Google Maps image)

Tom Platford, representing developer Majestic Investment Corporation, requested a 60-day deferral at the council meeting so the developer could look over the plans again and gather more input from area residents who oppose the proposed development.

“We’ve also retained counsel to advise us,” Platford told the council.

Majestic Investment Corporation was seeking to rezone 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, according to city documents. Total acreage is about 13.5 acres; city staff states development would be on about 1.5 acres.

Councilmember Linley Jones made the motion to deny and to not defer.

“I have followed this process since its genesis … and unfortunately I’ve not seen Majestic make any significant effort to work with the community,” she said.

“The community’s interests has been completely disregarded,” she added. Asking for a two-month deferral would only delay the inevitable, she said.

“All along the city has been clear in its denial of this application and the inconsistency of this application with the goals of the city,” she said. “This application has wasted a lot of the city’s time and investment already.”

The property is in the Lakes District, where townhomes are discouraged, according to the character area of the district added to the city’s comprehensive plan. 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, according to a Community Development Department memo.

Councilmember John Park restated what he has told developers in the past – to bring their “A” game at the beginning of any proposed development.

“And that should have happened 60 days ago,” he said. “If you want a new entitlement … you have to demonstrate the benefit to the community. That has not been done.”

An illustration of the 17 townhomes proposed on Johnson Ferry Road near Pill Hill. (City of Brookhaven)

Prior to the vote, several residents spoke out against the proposed development.

Fay Ann Sherris said she was speaking for hundreds of single-family homes surrounding the property and also for those who live downstream on Nancy Creek but who may not live in Brookhaven.

“We started off not being opposed to development on this land,” she said, “however through the course of this process we have been so distraught by how the developer is approaching it and handling it. And then after seeing the flooding two weeks ago … I don’t think this land can be developed.”

Sherris accused Platford of being inconsistent in what he has planned for the property, including filing paper work with the city that states development would occur on 1.5 acres of the 13.5 acre property, but then telling the Planning Commission the total acreage for development would be more like four acres.

She added that she and her neighbors are “gravely concerned” about flooding in the area, especially after the area saw severe flooding during heavy rains two weeks ago.

Bill Gannon, who lives in Sandy Springs and near the Johnson Ferry property, said he was speaking on behalf of the High Point Civic Association and other homeowners associations.

He told the council that in 2011, after DeKalb County denied a special land use permit to the Concorde Fire Soccer Club to build a soccer complex on the site, the city of Sandy Springs requested a hydrology study be conducted on the property by future developers.

Gannon went on to say if the developer doesn’t conduct a hydrology study then the city of Brookhaven should conduct one, and if Brookhaven did not conduct one the city of Sandy Springs would consider doing so.

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