Workshops Bring New Concept to Johnson Property | Jamestown News

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“Well that’s better than the one presented by Diamondback.”

Similar sentiments were heard following four workshops (five if you count the day by watching the teamwork) to help the developers know what the residents of Jamestown and many of the surrounding extraterritorial jurisdiction area are wanted to see when the old Johnson farm property of 467 acres along Guilford College and The Mackay Roads were developed.

Diamondback Investment Group’s earlier plan was rejected by the Jamestown Planning Board and City Council. Diamondback sold the property to DR Horton at the end of June.

No one has spoken up to say that this new plan is perfect.






The draft vision plan prepared by Seth Harry and his team shows the preservation of trees on about a third of the 467 acres, several neighborhoods, some commercial buildings at the intersection of Guilford and Guilford College roads (left), the restoration of la Futrelle -Maison Mackey-Armstrong and a school with recreation ground about halfway from the intersection to Mackay Road at the top. The plan will be further refined before being presented to city council.




Seth Harry, of Seth Harry and Associates, Inc. Architects and Planners, of Frederick, Md., Led the property vision workshops from September 14-18, which were both in person and online. The company specializes in town planning and town planning. On Saturday Harry presented his draft final vision plan.

“Harry’s sole purpose is to be an advocate for our citizens and city council in helping citizens define the design of this particular property,” said Acting City Manager Dave Treme. “Our goal is to ensure the best interests of Jamestown and the citizens. “

Once the plan is finalized, a development agreement will be attached to this property. This agreement must be respected regardless of the owner.

“We tell the developer what we want,” Treme said. “DR Horton [the current owner] is ready to work with us.

Indeed, representatives of the owner of the property, DR Horton, attended the workshop and participated the first night noting their preferences. They listened to the concerns and preferences of the community.

The developer, however, is not tied to the exact design plan presented by Harry.






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At the end of the first visioning workshop, attendees were able to vote on 13 items they would or would not like to see when the old Johnson property is developed.




Rather than starting the workshop by asking participants what they wanted, Harry explained how neighborhoods have changed over the years and showed several examples, then presented thirteen possible development concepts for participants to study and vote on. by placing a point on their preferences. The next evening Harry presented these results. [See sidebar.] Each successive meeting presented refined plans for further comment until the draft final plan was presented in a two-hour session on Saturday.

The final concept draft represented what Harry’s group believed to be what the community wanted to develop on the Johnson property, whether Harry thought it was the best plan or not.

“If we were to do this, it would have both legal and economic implications for the city and the residents as a whole,” he said without specifying the implications.

Harry believes that the Johnson property should be developed in several neighborhoods and he has focused on three qualities of a neighborhood, the center, the headquarters and the outskirts. The center could have retail / mixed-use elements as well as housing and would be within walking distance of all the homes in the neighborhood, about a quarter of a mile from the edge, where larger homes and land could be. located. This would be a new traditional neighborhood development, a style mentioned in the 2007 Global Plan and the proposed 2021 Plan.

Highlights of the draft plan include walking trails, the preservation of the Futrell-Mackey-Armstrong house on Guilford College Road with the addition of a formal garden, a community center, a small commercial development at the intersection of the roads Guilford and Guilford College, houses (condominiums) close to commercial development, residential streets designed to discourage speed, as many trees as possible preserved at house sites with about one third of total area preserved as green space.

Although Harry’s team did not calculate the total number of units in the plan, a comparison to Diamondback Investment’s final plan indicates that there could be around half as many units in the new plan. Harry estimated that the largest lot sizes would be around a third of an acre, comparable to the Forestdale neighborhood in Jamestown.

The small area at the northeast corner of Mackay Road and Guilford College Road as well as the strip south of Guilford College Road backing up to Whittington Hall were not included in the plan due to easements utilities and rough terrain.






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Participants used dots to indicate their preference.




As expected, several participants worried that development would bring more children into the already overcrowded Guilford County school system and asked what could be done. Primary schools near Pilot, Millis Road and Jamestown, Jamestown Middle School and Ragsdale High Schools would be affected by the demand, as would Southwest Elementary, Middle and High School and Sedgefield Elementary. Harry said a developer could choose to donate part of the property to a school. However, it is up to the school system to determine the need and location of a school, not a developer.

In the concept draft, a school with a sports field is shown along Guilford College Road opposite Cedarwood, but its size is more of a charter school.

Although this was a final concept, it was still only a draft.

“After the final presentation, other things will be done,” Treme said. Harry’s team will listen to Saturday’s comments and incorporate them into the design, which will see more refinement.

“You can always submit comments before the final plan is presented to city council,” Treme added.

Harry’s involvement doesn’t end with the final plan. He will be available during the development phase with DR Horton and will work with Tom Terrell, the City’s land use lawyer, on the development.

Harry admitted that his new ‘hybrid’ in person and online presentation had had some issues, including ending his PowerPoint presentation on Saturday after the meeting started. Several meetings started after the appointed time.

“The idea was to have the in person and online as close as possible,” Harry said.

It was not always synchronized. There was no video feed on the first night, an issue discovered after the fact, and a questionnaire was delivered in person after some participants left. There was also a bandwidth issue for online viewers.

Treme estimated that about a third of participants came to each session of the workshop or viewed it online.


The dots indicate preferences

On the first evening of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to see 13 options that they would or might not like to see in a new development. The results are below and the percentages are from in-person workshops.

• Neighborhood structure should include a mix of house types and price points, rather than uniform “pods” based on house types and price points. (89 percent)

• Streets should be designed for slower car speeds and volumes. (91%)

• An overwhelming number voted for large and small recreational facilities or open spaces. (74 percent)

• Street design should be pedestrian oriented with trees, on-street parking, sidewalks, porches, etc. (91%)

• For vehicle access to the home, the majority preferred a combination of “front loading” with garages across the street and “rear loading” with garages at the back of an alley. (74 percent)

• Participants preferred a variety of house types and prices in each neighborhood. (97 percent)

• There was a strong preference for traditional architecture (60 percent) with a mix of styles receiving 38 percent.

• All responses (100%) indicated that multi-family dwellings were acceptable as long as they were located in smaller buildings that matched the overall style of the neighborhood. There were no votes for large apartment buildings.

• Votes were divided on whether senior housing should be integrated into other housing or in a separate area.

• Assisted living units were rejected by 58 percent of participants, while 34 percent were approved if placed near a commercial / mixed-use area.

• Almost half (48 percent) were in favor of having retail / mixed-use locations, but not near the Guilford / Guilford College road intersection, while 33 percent said they preferred none. retail / mixed use. Online polls yielded different results, with just 4% preferring to move retail / mixed-use away from the intersection, but 70% voting not to have retail / mixed-use.

• Most in-person votes preferred a small retail / mixed-use business serving the neighborhood, but several indicated that they did not want a retail / mixed-use business. (the proposed percentages were incorrect)

Harry noted that if these responses showed mixed preferences, the final plan would show both.

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