Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan gets commission OK

Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan adopted
A conceptualized possibility for the redevelopment of a corner of the Johnson Ferry-Shallowford intersection includes restoring a lake (No. 3).

A master plan for the Johnson Ferry-Shallowford area that involved citizen input over the last two years reflects strong local desires to maintain a community dominated by single-family neighborhoods.

The Cobb Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to adopt the recommended master plan, which will guide not only future development and land use, but also traffic, parks, stormwater issues and a sense of place.

The Johnson Ferry-Shallowford Small Area Plan recommendations were subject to public hearings over the last month, including the Cobb Planning Commission. Earlier this month the advisory board suggested removing a proposal in the final master plan to restore a lake near the “JOSH” intersection.

That’s known to some as “Maddox Lake,” behind the now-demolished home of former Gov. Lester Maddox on Johnson Ferry Road, and that has been dry for some years.

The area around the lake was part of a 30-acre assemblage for rezoning that went before commissioners as a proposed townhome and single-family residential development before the request was withdrawn in early 2017.

The JOSH recommendations include several potential mixed-use development scenarios that Commissioner Bob Ott of East Cobb said are meant only to guide possible future uses, not mandate them.

“I’m not going to take out” the recommendation the Planning Commission wanted deleted.

The JOSH master plan process (you can view all developments here) included several community meetings and other input that began in 2018.

“This is what the community said they wanted,” Ott said. “There was not a consultant who came in and did it. These are simply possibilities to consider.”

The JOSH master plan area (boundary map here) includes the following demographics:

  • Population: 26,600
  • Employment: 4,400
  • Median Age: 44.9 years (Cobb median: 36.5)
  • Median household income: $119K (Cobb: $72K)
  • Median per capita income: $51K (Cobb: 36K)
  • Housing: 9.4K units; 98.2% owner-occupied; 99.5% single-family residential detached (Cobb: 66.2%)
  • Median home value: $347K (Cobb: $219.7K)
JOSH master plan adopted
The adopted JOSH master plan calls for the preservation of an area dominated by single-family neighborhoods.

The options presented in the JOSH final draft include redevelopment as a community park and stormwater management facility, with multi-family residential and some retail and restaurant space.

The transportation recommendations call for improving intersections in a number of places, including Johnson Ferry-Shallowford, Shallowford-Wesley Chapel, Shallowford-Mabry and creating a roundabout at Hembree Road and Lassiter Road.

The “sense of place” suggestions include design guidelines along Johnson Ferry and Shallowford that would include streetscape amenities including decorative street lights and pedestrian lights, unified landscaped medians, wider sidewalks and street furniture.

The study also suggests the creation of a “community based stakeholder association” that would consider citizen ideas and collaboration on new development and design.

The JOSH master plan was the fourth authorized by Ott, who is retiring at the end of the year after 12 years in office.

The others include the Vinings Vision Plan, Powers Ferry Corridor Plan and Johnson Ferry Design Guidelines, the latter of which pertained to future aesthetics in the mostly-commercial area between Roswell Road and the Chattahoochee River.

The JOSH area was placed in the District 2 area Ott serves in 2017. He said this plan is similar to the Vinings plan in that it’s a “preservation” plan.

Residents of the JOSH area, he said, were very clear during the master plan process about maintaining the single-family feel of the community, which has no rental developments and limited commercial areas.

“The purpose of these master plans was to give the community a say about what they want,” Ott said, saying the JOSH plan “will be a useful tool for my successor.”

Johnson Ferry-Shallowford community
Citizens of the JOSH area look over maps during a Jan. 2019 community meeting.

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