River Estates and Medlock Area Workshops - Road Widening Opposition
City Staff hosted two community workshops this past week to present the draft Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to residents. Tuesday’s meeting focused on the River Estates community area, and Wednesday’s meeting focused on the Medlock area. Both workshops were well attended, and question and answer sessions extended beyond the planned 8:00 PM conclusion.
River Estates – Tuesday March 21, 2018
In general, the CLUP for the River Estates area represents the least amount of change from existing Land Use plans. There is relatively little undeveloped land in this area, and that which is undeveloped is primarily proposed to be consistent with adjacent developments at no more than one unit per acre. The largest plot of undeveloped land in the River Estates area is Heisman Field at the southwest corner of the intersection at Medlock Bridge Road and Old Alabama Road. That land is currently owned by the Atlanta Country Club. The draft CLUP recommends that should that land become available for sale, that the city strongly consider its purchase and preservation as public green space. That, however, does not preclude developers from seeking to purchase that land, and at 79 acres, the draft CLUP would allow for up to 79 new homes.
Other topics of discussion within the River Estates area touched upon the proposal to install roundabouts at certain key intersections, as well as the continued installation of sidewalks alongside major roadways. These recommendations were cited as attempts to improve access to roadways from neighborhoods, and to increase “walkability”. Several residents expressed doubts that roundabouts would improve the situation, and noted that replacing traffic signals with roundabouts would actually make it more difficult to cross major roadways, thus defeating the objective of increasing walkability.
The majority of the Q&A time during the River Estates workshop focused on the potential widening of Medlock Bridge Road/141. Residents expressed their strong concerns about the negative impacts that would impose on the broader Johns Creek community. Residents again noted that despite the recommendation of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to leave Medlock Bridge Road at its current configuration, the CLUP presents the assumption of that road being widened. The logic behind this disconnect between the CLUP and the CAC recommendation and resident opposition still evades sound explanation. Questions from residents expressed concerns about the negative impacts to community character, the amount of road noise that would result, the dangers of adding lanes at a reduced width while retaining 55 MPH speed limits, and the resulting difficulties and dangers of ingress and egress for neighborhoods along the road. There were no expressions of general support for widening expressed by residents during the River Estates Q&A session.
Medlock Bridge – Wednesday March 22, 2018
The draft CLUP proposal for the Medlock Bridge area has much greater implications for local residents relative to the impacts that are proposed. This area of Johns Creek stands to see its residential character dramatically and irreversibly impacted if the widening of Medlock Bridge Road/141 proceeds. Once again, City Staff presented the CLUP with the working assumption that the road will be widened despite CAC recommendations to the contrary. Consistent and vocal opposition to the proposed widening was expressed during the Q&A session.
Residents questioned the logic of CLUP proposals to redevelop commercial retail at the Medlock Bridge Road/State Bridge Road intersection. Residents asked why we would seek to propose changes that have the intended effect of promoting even more traffic at the busiest and most dangerous intersection in the city, stating that it seemed counterintuitive to state an objective of reducing traffic congestion while promoting a plan that would drive additional traffic to the most congested area of the community.
While stating that he was NOT speaking for our City Council, Councilman John Bradberry stated that he does not believe that the widening of Medlock Bridge Road/141 is a done-deal. Councilman Steve Broadbent further stated that a poll was taken amongst the City Council members at the most recent Work Session, and the majority of representatives did NOT support widening.
City Community Development Director Sharon Ebert added that the feedback provided during these Community Area Meetings are what they are seeking, and that resident feedback would be represented back as the draft CLUP is refined.
It will remain critical that we hold our elected representatives and City Staff to their words.
Upcoming Community Area Meeting Schedule:
Autrey Mill Community Area – Wednesday March 28, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Johns Creek North Community Area – Thursday March 29, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00 PM