1. The District is a plan for the city to create a livable, viable downtown. Almost every city around Johns Creek is in some stage of forging a downtown identity. Should Johns Creek be following this path? Does the city need such a viable downtown? Should the city create a viable plan to facilitate the downtown?
DAWOOD: I believe in controlled smart growth and not compromising the quality of life for our residents in Johns Creek. The District is an ambitious initiative that was proposed to diversify our tax digest. Out of the thousands of residents that I have talked with, the residents are not ready for a large-scale, high-density district.
The city realizes that its economic development efforts must not threaten the quality of life for the residents of Johns Creek. Johns Creek City Council has suspended any planning on the District at this time. The city recently presented the Strategic Economic Development Plan (SEDP) which serves as a roadmap for the city's economic development efforts.
2. The city has a comprehensive land use plan. Yet along Medlock Bridge Road there are empty storefronts. What role, if any, should the city play in economic development? Does this city with 80,000-plus residents need to recruit new businesses here?
DAWOOD: The city has already taken a proactive approach and released a Strategic Economic Development Plan (SEDP) addressing the economic needs of the entire city to diversify and expand the tax base.
The city is heading in the right direction as it works in partnership with Johns Creek Business Association, Johns Creek Advantage, Planning Commission, Johns Creek Chamber and the state to create an environment that encourage businesses to locate here.
3. Should the city have an economic development plan at all, or should the city allow the business community to take the lead?
DAWOOD: The city has already taken a proactive approach and released a Strategic Economic Development Plan (SEDP) that addresses the economic needs of the entire city. The SEDP does a good job in identifying both the limitations of Johns Creek as well as the opportunities in front of it.
This plan will serve as a roadmap for the city to work in partnership with the business community and its economic development partners.
4. Traffic has been a key issue from the city’s beginning and it isn’t going away. How does the city deal with more traffic as not only Johns Creek grows, but as Alpharetta, Peachtree Corners, Duluth, Roswell and South Forsyth grow around us, as well?
DAWOOD: I will work to keep the citizens of Johns Creek in the forefront. As echoed by thousands of Johns Creek residents, transportation and infrastructure improvement is a priority.
I will work in partnership with state, county and local stakeholders to improve communications, create forums to present new technologies, continue to acquire funding and collectively impact improvements in our city.
5. It has been suggested that the city would be better served by separating our traffic planning from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Instead we should build our traffic grid with the type of projects the city wants with our own funds and forgo state funding. Is this a sound strategy?
DAWOOD: Among our challenges is the fact that more than 110,000 people have moved into surrounding communities since 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau). A recent study showed 53 percent of all trips through Johns Creek are pass-through traffic to other cities. For example, daily traffic volume on 141 north of Johns Creek Parkway is 47,312, which exceeds the 35,100 volume per day capacity.
The improvement of roads and bridges in Johns Creek will have enormous costs associated with the various projects. Without state and federal funding, the timeline to complete these projects will exceed the patience of our residents who want to see immediate solutions.
EXTRA CREDIT QUESTIONS
1.Are you satisfied with the comprehensive land use plan? If not, what changes would you like to see when the City Council moves forward in 2016 to update the plan?
DAWOOD: A comprehensive land use plan is a working document that will need continuous community input. The plan has addressed the environment, population, transportation, housing, economic development, community facilities and land-use needs.
I would like to see better community participation and to consider a development impact fee on proposed development like assisted living centers.
2.There is a continuing desire to build residential projects targeting seniors – active adult to assisted living to memory care. What, if anything, do you think needs to be done about the continued desire to develop more senior living facilities in Johns Creek?
DAWOOD: Currently the city has 3 percent of its population over age 75. But it has an additional 17 percent ages 55 to 74. Older adults prefer to stay in their own communities to be near family and doctors. As the demand for assisted living centers in Johns Creek raises, there will be a need for higher degree of care such as EMS. To pay for the services, the city should consider a development impact fee and a construction improvements element (CIE) in our comprehensive plan. Roswell and city of Sandy Springs, charge impact fees on senior adult housing.
3.Is attracting new businesses and retaining our current ones a job for the city?
DAWOOD: The city has already taken a proactive approach and released a strategic economic development plan (SEDP) that addresses the economic needs of the entire city. The SEDP identifies the limitations as well as opportunities in the city.
While the business community can collaborate with the Johns Creek Business Association, Johns Creek Advantage and the Johns Creek Chamber, the city can serve an important role in creating an attractive business environment that encourages growth of existing businesses and new businesses to locate in Johns Creek.
4.Do you believe Johns Creek should have a strategy for parkland purchases? If so, how should these purchases be funded?
DAWOOD: The plan indicates the need for additional parkland. The plan also is the first step to a sustainable strategy for parkland purchases. There are several funding options available for purchase; general funds and reserves.
Recently, the city council voted to execute a purchase agreement towards land acquisition for recreation and parks using portion of the reserves. The other ways of purchases are funds collected through resident-nonresident user fees, dedicated millage rate, in-kind donations, public private partnerships, state funding and through foundations.
5.What is the role of the Johns Creek government in supporting a vibrant arts and culture environment in the city?
DAWOOD: Arts and culture environment help to reveal and enhance the city’s identity in providing opportunities for participation in community life through festivals, events and performances, interactive classes and workshops, and a variety of other activities.
The city is heading in the right direction as it works in collaborative partnership with the arts and culture board to create a welcoming environment that encourages the unique meaning, value and character of our community.