False alarm emails upset McGinnis residents

Bogus warning sends residents dashing to planning meeting



JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Email blasts sent out Thursday March 2 to residents along McGinnis Ferry Road provided a shock that had them worried for a while.

But the warning emails that the Johns Creek Citizens Advisory Committee was considering plans that night to widen McGinnis Ferry Road to six lanes – instead of the four lanes already in the works – turned out to be a false alarm.

It seems the Citizens Advisory Committee had merely asked the transportation consultants to do some additional modeling to see if a six-lane McGinnis would significantly bleed off morning traffic headed south from Medlock Bridge Road.

The word was, no, it would not make a significant change in southbound Medlock traffic, but it upset McGinnis Ferry residents who are already uneasy as plans for four lanes will likely affect Johns Creek subdivisions along the way.

A couple dozen residents showed up at the usually staid meeting giving community advice on updating the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

But they were assured by Community Development Director Sharon Ebert who moderates the Comprehensive Plan committee that there are no plans by anyone to widen McGinnis Ferry to six lanes.

Someone on the committee had merely asked the consultants to use its computer modeling software to see what that effect would have.

The reduction of travel time for southbound traffic on Ga. 141 (Medlock Bridge) with a destination of Perimeter Mall would be about 4 minutes.

That wasn’t considered significant to warrant six lanes on McGinnis at any case.

But for residents in Seven Oaks who received a 10:55 email from the subdivision management company flagged “URGENT Neighborhood Info” it was more than unsettling.

Seven Oaks resident Mark Jones said he was shocked that it just appeared out of nowhere.

“We were already trying to fight back about how much right of way [on McGinnis] they would take and how big the median would be. Then to have this was crazy,” Jones said. “The whole neighborhood was up in arms. I was thinking they would have to buy my house now.”

Other emails in the community were calling for hiring lawyers to fight this latest “threat.”

About 4:30 p.m. a second email from the Seven Oaks management came saying the consideration to widen McGinnis further was “only a response” to show it would not provide the congestion relief desired on Medlock.

But by then many residents were already determined to go to the 6 p.m. meeting that afternoon and didn’t get the update.

Ebert said later the whole thing was a modeling exercise that was supposed to be a “private draft” for the 24 members of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee.

“It was part of a survey sent to the members. And only 12 of the members opened the survey,” she said. “So whoever put it out to other neighborhoods must have been one of those 12.”

She said it was never intended for the public and was an informational tool only.

“And it showed that the [modeling] didn’t solve the problem,” she said.

“The board members were upset also that this kind of rumor got started.”

Getting to the heart of the matter, Ebert said the only plan throughout the metro area is to continue widening roads.

“We keep going from two lanes to four, then six. We can’t go on widening roads forever. We have to look at other solutions,” she said.

Meanwhile, Johns Creek residents are getting shell-shocked when rumors start flying.

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