Why not Hardy?

Our Town is at a crossroads.  If we take Hardy Johnson's path, it's very, very difficult to turn back.  It is a path filled with more fast-food, more transient drivers off I-85, more transient truckers off I-85, more warehouses, more high density, and more rental-based residents.  Don't take my word for it.  Take his.  All underlined sections below provide a link to publicly available records so you can research for yourself.  So... 

Why not Hardy Johnson?

On April 1, 2021, I attended the Mayor and Council Strategic Planning Day, and Hardy Johnson proclaimed this vision for Braselton: (1) more affordable housing; (2) more fast-food near the Hospital; (3) more industrial growth; and (4) as Hardy put it, "wildly innovative ideas like a Braselton Bypass."  

 

Succinctly - Hardy Johnson and I, Kurt Ward, have a very different vision for Braselton.

Hardy Apartments - 2020-8-5 (jpeg).jpg

(1) Does Hardy Johnson really want more affordable housing?  Yes - he absolutely does

On July 29, 2020, Hardy Johnson declared his focus for more apartments in Braselton. {BraseltonNews Today - Aug. 1, 2020 (digital), Aug. 5, 2020 (print)}

On February 8, 2021, Hardy Johnson voted in favor of 16 units/acre apartments in an area where Braselton's 2020 Comprehensive Plan (pp. 95 & 117) suggests growth at 5.9 units/acre and despite Braselton Development Code, Article 8 (p. 13) restricting apartments / multi-family to 8 units/acre.  The only greenspace for these apartments would be below high-voltage / transmission power lines.

Think about that for a minute.  Do Braselton residents want to walk the dog, set up a playground, throw the ball with a kid, or gather for a picnic under high-voltage / transmission power lines?

Further, Braselton, Hall Co. & Gwinnett Co. already zoned over 2,000 rental residences between Spout Springs and Hwy 211 along Friendship Road.  {240+ apartments at Thompson Mill & Spout Springs (Noble Vines / The Harrison); 260+ apartments at Thompson MIll & Spout Springs (Rochester); 560 apartments, 945 townhomes, 220 cottages, 219 single family homes in a "Build-to-Rent" community at Friendship & Hwy 211 (Reveille)}

Added to these rental residences are additional developments that are not designated for home ownership: 200+ townhomes at Spout Springs & Friendship (Ridgeline);  150+ age restricted apartments at Thompson Mill & Celebration Church (rental complex);  300+ age restricted apartments at Friendship & Deaton Creek Parkway (VDC);  100+ age restricted  units at Thompson Mill & Hwy 211 (19-05-RZ - The Mansion) where Hardy Johnson made the motion to approve and start parcelling up maybe the last large tract of land that could accommodate an open space destination that has been envisioned by Braselton since the 2010 Comprehensive Plan. (2010 Comp. Plan - p. 11) (2015 Comp. Plan - p. 21)

Also, Hardy Johnson voted in favor of a precedent-setting decision that could eliminate every Chateau Elan golf course and vineyard in exchange for affordable housing.  On September 9, 2019, Peggy Slappey made the motion and Hardy Johnson seconded it - the decision to eliminate the Par 3 and part of the Chateau Elan vineyards in favor of townhomes. (18-11-RZ)  Many Chateau Elan residents opposed this decision and have personally financed legal action toward getting it reversed.

And, Hardy Johnson voted in favor of Meritage - another "affordable" / high density housing project, which is also being opposed by Chateau Elan residents with allegations of improper notice and improper zoning. (19-07-RZ)

On the contrary - I, Kurt Ward, consistently state that Braselton residents value home ownership.  I simply do not agree with Hardy Johnson's vision for our Town.  How does Hardy Johnson's vision and votes affect you?

(2) Does Hardy Johnson really want more fast-food near the Hospital?  Yes - no doubt

On January 15, 2019 and after an in-person discussion with Hardy Johnson on this issue, I sent Hardy Johnson an email titled "Turmoil re Hwy 211 area" with 1,800+ words discussing public sentiment on fast-food and gas stations near the Hospital.  After I attended many meetings with leaders in Hwy 211 neighborhoods, it was clear that Hwy 211 residents want better destinations for our Life Path and less congestion from interstate transients.  I proposed that the Mayor and Council amend Braselton Development Code, Article 13 (pp.  3-4) by moving "Restaurant, Drive in" and "Convenience gas station" from a 13.5(C) Conditional Use to a 13.5(A) Prohibited Use.  This would settle the turmoil and be an attempted solution to avoid greater congestion.  On Jan. 16, 2019, Hardy Johnson sent me this response: "Thanks, Kurt, this is helpful."  Then... crickets... nothing else.

On December 14, 2020, Hardy Johnson made the motion to approve another "Restaurant, Drive in" near the Hospital (20-04-CU).  Hardy Johnson publicly stated more concern with his large SUV getting to the drive in than the vehicles of fast-food patrons co-mingling with patients going to clinics for Physical Therapy, Orthopedics, Dialysis and Dental Care.  

On the contrary - I, Kurt Ward, feel the 20+ fast-food chains near the Hospital are enough.  Braselton residents want destinations for our Life Paths where you can relax in open space with recreation, retail, and restaurants.  Just a short drive away from Braselton, places like Halcyon or Vickery Village are in towns on a similar scale with Braselton.  I believe our future can be different than the vision Hardy Johnson wants to build.  

(3) Does Hardy Johnson really want more industrial growth?  Yes

Hardy Johnson made the motion to approve Braselton's 2020 Comprehensive Plan ("Comp. Plan") that focuses on "Missing Middle Housing" instead of a Comp. Plan that focuses on a unifying vision for Braselton.  Missing Middle Housing gets cited as a reason for Braselton to incorporate more "Build-to-Rent" and affordable housing communities, for example:

     (i) a 40-unit apartment complex behind The Oaks assisted living (21-03-RZ);

     (ii) a 144-unit "Build-to-Rent" community starting at 700 sq/ft units next to Del Webb Chateau Elan (21-07-RZ);

     (iii) a 219 unit "Build-to-Rent" community starting at 800-sq/ft units near Downtown Braselton and our nicest restaurants and amphitheater (21-09-RZ).

The Comp. Plan (p. 51) also estimates 8.5 million sq/ft of industrial in Braselton, and a "higher average vacancy rate, yet lower average rents" on Braselton's industrial warehouses.   

On the contrary - I, Kurt Ward, clearly hear that Braselton residents do not want more industrial traffic and industrial congestion, especially not on Chardonnay Trace (The Vineyard and Vineyard Gate neighborhoods) and Jesse Cronic (Liberty Estates, Baker's Farm, Broadmoor neighborhoods).  After listening to Chardonnay Trace residents, I asked a resident to start "Documented Danger on Chardonnay Trace" as a Facebook website to build objective evidence of the danger caused by industrial traffic in Braselton.  We may need to use this evidence in the future to help govern this area. 

(4)  What about Hardy Johnson's "wildly innovative" idea of a Braselton Bypass?

With more industrial, with more strip malls being approved and strip malls losing anchor tenants (e.g., Publix Vineyards), with more fast-food near the Hospital, and with more focus on apartments and affordable housing, Braselton will not need a bypass, Braselton's Hwy 211 and Hwy 53 will become a bypass.  Braselton's Hwy 211 and Hwy 53 are at a tipping point of becoming another Jimmy Carter Blvd., Pleasant Hill, etc...

In conclusion - Let me be clear.  I've known Hardy Johnson to be a kind neighbor, loving husband & grandparent, and great friend to his dog named Jack.  Out of respect, I called Hardy to discuss my campaign a week in advance of any public announcement.

Hardy and I simply have a different vision for Braselton.  My municipal mentors remind me time and time again - cast a vision, build a team, and be patient for the right development.  That is what I am doing for my family and yours.

With Planned Growth, Braselton can always be an attractive destination and domicile (i.e., a permanent home). 

Please Vote for Kurt Ward with an Absentee Ballot, Early Vote or Nov. 2nd Vote!

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