Dear Residents of Johns Creek,
First and foremost, I owe the residents of Johns Creek an apology.
During the Council Meeting on Monday, October 8, 2018, I misspoke and did vote Yes to support the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to be submitted to Atlanta Regional Commission for review. At the October 8th meeting, I voted No on the final approval of the CLUP and I wanted to share you with why.
The CLUP is composed of dozens of policy statements that government implements to describe and document how a governmental jurisdiction is to be developed. During the summer of 2016, the City Council seated a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) comprised of residents throughout the city. Their task was to review, document and finalize the CLUP, and to present to the City Council for consideration. The Johns Creek CAC endured 6 months of frustration working with a consulting firm hired to assist in the process. The CAC stood strong and took control of the process. After another eight months, they were able to present their draft of the CLUP to the Planning Commission and then the City Council for consideration. This was a tremendous effort, and all the members should be commended for their hard work, considerable investment in time, and completion of a thorough document.
Our current political environment is marked by a distrust of elected officials and a constantly escalating uncivil discourse which is rooted in perceived violations of principles between elected officials and the electorate. Residents look at each change and ask themselves “Who is this designed to benefit?” How is this relevant to the Johns Creek CLUP?
The City Council discussion regarding the review of the CLUP centered around some concerns a single property owner continued to bring forward to each public hearing held regarding the process. The issue was the assertion that the property owner’s fundamental rights were being violated by descriptive changes made to the CLUP. Working with the City Attorney, minor changes were made, and the legal concerns were addressed. However, several members of the City Council took this a step further and created a group of specific residents to work with this property owner. As a result, additional language was added to the CLUP stating changes that will be considered in the future. Council Members also made statements during the public hearing reinforcing this property owner’s ability to submit plans to change from AG-1 to some sort of Mixed Use.
Every property owner is subject to the same zoning laws and would have to request a zoning change or variance if they desired to change their property classification. Through the process that was allowed, this particular property owner was given “extra rights” through wording and verbal affirmation of a potential positive outcome in the zoning change/variance request process. Here is where policy separates and principles emerge with the perception of granting additional “rights” to a single property owner.
For the zoning process, the core principle is equal protection under the law and equality in opportunity. When the City Council added a statement in the CLUP that granted “special rights” to a single property owner at the expense of all the other property owners in Johns Creek, the CLUP ceased to be a singular policy statement, and instead became a variation in rights – fundamental rights that are the foundation of this country. And all the hard work of the CAC was thrown to the wayside.
Were we to grant “special rights” to one property owner, it is only proper that we should grant those rights to all property owners. We should not be picking winners and losers. By not granting “special rights” to all, we create a reality where some get preferential treatment and others do not.
When I was sworn in as a City Councilmember, I took an oath to adhere to the US Constitution, Georgia Constitution and the Johns Creek City Charter. My core principles are the basis for every decision I make and are articulated in these documents. Therefore, I could not support the CLUP because the City Council does not have the power to grant special rights, and the CLUP was favoring one property owner at the expense of all the other property owners in Johns Creek.
It is my opinion that almost all of the incivility in our society with elected officials can be traced back to core principles that residents or citizens have perceived as being violated by elected officials. That situation leads to a lack of perceived independence, perceived crony capitalism, and perceived denial of equal rights (equal protection, blind justice), to name just a few. For civility to return, elected officials need to start understanding that core principles cannot be negotiable and should not be confused when setting policy. Our rights come with responsibilities and every one of us has the responsibility to hold each other accountable. These initial principles were clearly articulated in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I welcome your thoughts and feedback and appreciate your time in reviewing my letter.
Johns Creek City Council Post 5
Refreshing. Thank you for this thoughtful letter. Please consider running for Mayor, trust needs to be restored because our current Mayor has made himself impossible to trust with his lack of good judgement and his bulling tactics.
Wow! And here I thought I was the only one that realizes how brilliant Stephanie Endres is! Having said that I'm joking of course because if you hear how she's treated in the meetings, you know the truth.
This letter makes sense. Stephanie Endres seems trustworthy. Thank you for keeping us posted.
It is clear that Ms Endres has her own opinions. She has her story and is sticking to it. In this instance the Council approved the CLUP by a vote of 6 to 1. I suggest that Ms Endres provide a quote of the words in the CLUP that disturb her so much so that members of the public can form their own judgement as to whether the CLUP does what she believes it does.
As one who participated extensively in the preparation of the CLUP, I believe that Ms Endres' concerns are overblown and unfounded, but that is her opinion and she is entitled to it. It is the responsibility of Johns Creek citizens to read the CLUP themselves and form their own conclusions.
Thank you Stephanie! I’m surprised that this wording in the CLUP favoring one property owner would pass legal muster. However, I have experienced in another jurisdiction, the CLUP is treated by council only as a guideline, subject to council’s interpretation and typically not enforceable in Georgia courts.
I trust Stephenie Endres to always do the right things for the homeowners who pay the taxes in JC. I drive the area and can't believe how unsightly it's become. Trees cut down (new twigs put up) billboards throughout, zoning which was accepted because we never stayed true to the original plans of JC. Townhomes all over, mixed use which isn't what we would "envision mixed use." Abbotts Bridge/120 construction destroyed the look of so many homes, and we have to wait about a year to get the extra lanes we were promised to ease traffiic. I had a relative who came to visit after not being here for three years and was shocked at what has happened here. Sad.
It appears we have no rights here as it is.
I also trust and admire Stephanie Endres...she seems to have the Johns Creekers' best interests at heart.
If you watch or attend any of the city council meetings, it is STEPHANIE that comes fully prepared with facts and figures. She asks questions!!! While most of the time, some of the other council members sit there like statues and rarely utter a word....nor seem to care about anything "on the table".
Council members must constantly rededicate themselves to serving the public
interest and respecting individual rights.That is why we elected them in the first place.
I think Endres ( especially) , Bradberry and Coughlin do this.
You are right on point. This Comp Plan change was orchestrated at the very last meeting after numerous meetings with the JC residents who assumed that the final document was completed. I attended many of these meetings. I completely agree with your comments and position. We are distrustful of our elected representatives because they support special interests like the ACC board and other property owners. The majority voice of JC is washed away with these last minute deals and Comp Plan language. Our voice is not respected by many on the JC council.
I too would like to know what verbiage and extra rights were provided to that one property owner. I'm very curious to know what special treatment they are receiving.
Thank you Council Member Endres for your insight to the process and what your intentions were.
Must have been a lot of money on the line regarding the outcome of the Comp Plan and future zoning. This would explain why "The Three" who drone on (and continue to drone on to anyone who will listen) about bullying and trolls are also "The Three" most heavily vested with the Comp Plan, either in it's drafting or its implementation.
You know the names. Look them up and see how they are all intertwined in this process. In the future, we need a truly independent CAC, not one appointed by the Mayor and including Council Members and supporters of the Mayor.
Thank you Stephanie for sharing your insight; and for consistantly advocating and voting on the side that mostly benefits the JC homeowners/tax-payors.
We've too have had family in town over this last year at different times; and all who had not been here for a few years. Without any complaining or prodding from us they ALL mentioned how much JC had changed.
Of mention was the overdevelopment overall. Less trees and more concrete. Excessive crowding, too many apartments, mixed use, high density housing,,, congested roads, untimed traffic lights, road construction all over the place that only ends up putting in more sidewalks (for the ten people that use them) and bike lanes for the courageous that use them.
(Riding a bike in JC should be considered attempted suicide. Driving is scary enough.
Several years ago the mayor commented at a city hall meeting that the folks in JC were "too attached to their cars". Whaaaat?
So it's bikes and sidewalks for us:) Even golf carts were tossed out there as an idea of possibly being a solution towards reducing cars on the road.. hah! Now that is funny...
Oh, then there's the billboards too. Our guests were amused (and disgusted like us) especially with the ones for "America's Most Wanted". Really?
Now the others popping up all over the city, some running one after another at the same location, paid for by bottom-feeder ambulance chasers hoping to drag net for the lawsuit happy?
Our guests likened JC roadways to those seen on interstates > intrusive billboards of little to no interest of the people driving by them.
Now while stuck in traffic we are further annoyed by this unsightly negative assault on our senses...
And hey JC gov officials, if you are reading this post maybe explain in this post string just who thought this was a good idea, and who benefited from it? I don't think many of us "little people" understand this one.
Lastly a joke was made, perhaps in poor taste but true about JC being the new Tower of Babylon".
One of the things Mayor Bodker said repeatdedly while running for re-election (against himself as it turned out) was HIS hope of "finishing what HE started". Well, sure looks like he's closing in...
Stephanie, please run for mayor. If you had run in the last election I am certain you would have won!
Thank you to everyone who reviewed the letter and I appreciate all the input. I am actively working on a response and I want to make sure it is clear and thorough. The decision I arrived at was based on following the process from the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Planning Commission and finally to the City Council. I appreciate your patience and will have the information finalized in the next few days.
What's this all about? What is the change that was so bad? If the explanation was posted somewhere else, I'm sorry.
The support for my position on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for Johns Creek comes directly from the testimony given from the Planning Commission Public Hearing and the three City Council Public Hearings.
During the Planning Commission, the issue the property owner raised through many speakers was that the property was noted for purchase by the City of Johns Creek if put on the market for sale and to remain “undeveloped”. The property owner specifically asked for the property through a zoning district be rezoned as mixture of residential and commercial. The Planning Commission voted to leave the document as presented and requested City Council consider the various comments provided during the public hearing.
During the City Council Public Hearing, it was determined changes were made to remove the "undeveloped" and "first right of sale refusal" language. The property owner now had no other barriers any other property owner would face when requesting property zoning changes. You will see as the conversation evolved from June 18, 2108, when first discussed through July 9, 2018 and then July 23, 2018, the conversation changed from legal property rights being denied to an issue of economic value.
During the meeting on July 23, 2018, a resident came forth and presented issues that were impacting his property economic value and at no time did any council member consider his comments and insert wording to protect his property value.
Please review the condensed videos and I would encourage you to watch these meetings in their entirety to see all the comments and discussions for yourself.
Thank you for reviewing and I look forward to your continued feedback.
June 5, 2018 Planning Commission (edited)
June 18, 2018 City Council public hearing (edited)
July 5, 2018 City Council public hearing (edited)
July 23, 2018 City Council public hearing (edited)