Brookhaven, GA, March 14, 2017 – by Trey Benton – Confusion about the origin of a “proposed change” to the Donaldson Drive and Johnson Ferry Road intersection has area residents and businesses voicing their concerns about the City of Brookhaven’s Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Study. But, the proposed restricting of Donaldson Dr. access to right-in / right-out only from Johnson Ferry isn’t part of the Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Study. It’s a requirement approved by DeKalb County Commissioners in 2007, as part of a DeKalb County zoning and development deal for the Brookleigh mixed-use development (a.k.a. Johnson Ferry East).
According to the minutes of the DeKalb Commission meeting on April 10, 2007, “Approval shall be subject to conditions as provided in Attachment A, and subject to the limitations placed on allowable modifications to the DRI Plan of Development, as described in Attachment B, submitted by GRTA.”
When Commissioners unanimously approved the Brookleigh development, two conditions of its approval were; the development be constructed pursuant to the approved site plan and conditions formulated through a Development of Regional Impact Study (DRI #1237) reviewed and approved by the Georgia Regional Transportation Administration (GRTA) would be implemented. The Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) collaborated on the DRI and concurred as it relates to road improvements, access and safety.
The DeKalb County Housing Authority initiated the Brookleigh project to upgrade the aging Johnson Ferry East apartment complex that was built in 1948, a complex which consisted of 59 buildings and a community center situated on 50 “park-like acres” fronting Johnson Ferry Road. Approximately 380 of the complex’s 498 units were designated for the elderly. Vouchers were given to the existing families to relocate from Johnson Ferry East to other rental properties of their choosing.
County records show approximately 15 community input meetings were held between 2005 and 2007. Input from those meetings resulted in improvements to the corridor and were incorporated in the DRI study, improvements which are to be fully or partially funded through State and Federal Funding mechanisms.
Improvements to the Corridor in the DRI include:
- Johnson Ferry Road at Donaldson Drive / Ashford Dunwoody Road: Movement on the Donaldson Drive southbound approach shall be limited to right turn only and enforced by a raised concrete median.
- Johnson Ferry Road at Blair Circle: Provide a dedicated eastbound left-turn lane from Johnson Ferry Road onto Blair Circle; Provide a dedicated westbound right-turn lane from Johnson Ferry Road onto Blair Circle; Signalize if warranted.
- Johnson Ferry Road at Durden Drive: Provide a dedicated eastbound left-turn lane from Johnson Ferry Road onto Durden Drive; Provide a dedicated westbound right-turn lane from Johnson Ferry Road onto Durden Drive.
- Johnson Ferry Road / Ashford Dunwoody Road corridor: Provide a signal communication system at a minimum of between the signals at Johnson Ferry Road at Ashford Dunwoody Road; Johnson Ferry Road at Ashford Dunwoody Road / Donaldson Drive and Johnson Ferry Road at Blair Circle.
- Johnson Ferry Road at Ashford Dunwoody Road: Provide two southbound through lanes.
- Johnson Ferry Road: Sidewalks along 18 corridors of Johnson Ferry Road from Ashford Dunwoody Road to Fulton County Line.
- Ashford Dunwoody Road: Sidewalks and bike lanes from West Nancy Creek Road to Perimeter Summit Parkway, and continues to Lake Hearn Dr.
- Ashford Dunwoody Road at Johnson Ferry Road: Install an additional southbound through lane
During an October 25, 2016 Brookhaven City Council Meeting, a Council discussion about the proposed MARTA Transit Oriented Development included the topic of DRI’s, and specifically who is responsible for making sure the State’s conditions of approval are implemented. The City said they do not want to let developers off the hook for any conditions placed on a project – whether Council conditions or State conditions. They said otherwise, what good are the conditions in the first place.
“The die was cast in 2007,” Public Works Director Richard Meehan told The Post. “And, Brookhaven is bound by the requirements set forth by the ARC and GRTA at that time.”
The Brookleigh developer has already received funding for the required changes to the Donaldson Dr. access. According to the City, those changes will be happening in the next few months. The City says the developer has been notified and is working through the engineering process to complete the State’s requirements.
During Tuesday’s City Council Work Session Meehan further explained that the traffic light at Donaldson Dr. will remain. He said motorists will still be able to make a left turn onto Donaldson Dr. from Johnson Ferry Rd. (if you’re headed toward Peachtree), and you will also be able to go straight through to Donaldson if you are traveling from Ashford Dunwoody Rd.
“The only restriction is if you are coming on Donaldson Dr. to Johnson Ferry Rd., you won’t be able to make a left onto Johnson Ferry Rd. going toward Peachtree Rd. or to go straight on to Ashford Dunwoody Rd.,” Meehan told Council.
Many of the visioning items in the Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Study are found in the DRI study developed when the ARC, DCA and GDOT were contemplating the Brookleigh development some 10 years ago.