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Lorri Christopher, Her Vision for Peachtree Corners

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Lorri Christopher Peachtree Corners GA

On this episode of Peachtree Corners Life, we get the chance to hear from Lorri Christopher. Lorri was one of the original founding city council members of Peachtree Corners. Listen in as Rico and Lorri discuss technological advances in the City, park improvements, and why she is running for re-election to Post 5 city council.

Resources:
www.Re-electLorri5.com
www.PeachtreeCornersga.gov
Social Media:
https://www.instagram.com/lorrichristopher/
https://twitter.com/lorri504
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Rico: [1:01] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, I’m the host of Peachtree Corners Life. I appreciate you joining us. Whether it’s Facebook live or if you’re listening to us on iTunes or Spotify or iHeart Radio, thank you for joining us. Before we get into our guest today, I just want to say thank you to Atlanta Tech Park here in Tech Park Atlanta in the city of Peachtree Corners right on this miraculous one and a half mile road, that’s part of the Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, which is the autonomous track that just opened just recently. But Atlanta Tech Park is an accelerator similar to some degree to Prototype Prime down the block which is an incubator. Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, Bright and Prototype Prime is part of that. Now the original was separate, but now it’s all together. Thanks Lorri. But we are in the podcast studio here at Atlanta Tech Park, and I want to thank them for allowing us to use the studio. It’s a great place lots of things here. Lots of workshops, the ability to find and connect and network here is unbelievable. Next month is going to be a tech showcase that’s happening November 14th I believe. An ATS I believe it is and you can find information on LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com or just Google Atlanta Tech Park and their website will pop up. So thank you for these facilities for us to use and now for my guest today a City Council Person. City Councilman, we discussed how we should do that right. City Councilman, Lorri Christopher. Lorri, thanks for joining me.

Lorri: [2:38] It’s an honor to be with you.

Rico: [2:40] I appreciate it. Lori is the original, one of the original, founding city council people that started with the city of Peachtree Corners and actually prior to the city. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that and about yourself?

Lorri: [2:53] Well a little bit about me. I’ve lived in Peachtree Corners since 1983, the whole time. I worked in Peachtree Corners in the 70s and 80s in the Summit Building. We had our technology firm, Boris, was located there where we developed financial applications for the world, but we had over 400 people in that facility. So I’ve seen Tech Park when it was at its heyday. I’ve seen it since and it is so exciting, about what’s happening now.

Rico: [3:25] Yes, it’s like full circle almost right?

Lorri: [3:28] We’re getting there.

Rico: [3:29] Lorri has an impressive background, I’ve got to say. MBA Emory Finance, Georgia State, Global Commerce, e-commerce. IT graduate work at Georgia Tech, Hofstra University, Undergraduate math. A long history not only of schooling but also of a long history of being involved in all sorts of things. She’s back from Africa, 14 days there as well.

Lorri: [3:56] Well I was there doing a service project with a school. We had partnered with the local Rotary Club, the Arusha Rotary Club in Tanzania, and they had identified a number of projects that they needed help with. And so along with three other people, we went over with some money and some computers.

Rico: [4:18] And you told me you lugged in your luggage, actually.

Lorri: [4:20] We took them all over in our luggage and they all made it. And we were fortunate to be involved with a group that wanted to give in that community as much as our area wanted to give in terms of making the project a success. Sometimes you get engaged in these projects and it’s a one-way street. But the people we worked with were equally as committed in spite of the challenges that they face. And that’s kind of how I view some of the things sometimes we face as a city councilman because we’d like to do everything but our funds only go so far.

Rico: [4:59] This is true and the good part is that the city’s somewhat debt free of things, right?

Lorri: [5:04] We are.

Rico: [5:05] Yeah, the town center we’re debt free there?

Lorri: [5:07] The town center is debt free.

Rico: [5:10] The millage rate is zero.

Lorri: [5:12] That’s true.

Rico: [5:13] For a small city that’s only, how old are we now? Six years old? Well what it says seven there.

Lorri: [5:19] We’re seven plus years old. And the bottom line is we’ve been able to do some things that we hadn’t planned because we didn’t plan to buy the property where the Town Centre is now. We had other initiatives in place at that time, but because of the citizen input and desire, they did not want that turned into garden-style apartments. So we ended up buying the property and we tried for a long time to sell it. That didn’t go really well. We were just coming out of a recession. And so the city chose to build a town center there as a place for people to gather and be together. And it’s debt free. The other thing is how fortunate can we be when we bought the town hall, our city hall, because we have a tenant on the top that pays the rent for us. So our mortgage basically is being paid by a tenant. So in my opinion, we work really hard at keeping the millage zero and being fiscally responsible.

Rico: [6:31] It’s interesting, one of the few cities that haven’t built their own city hall for example, lots of cities around here, Duluth, Suwannee, others. Not saying that’s a bad thing for them to do, but they went out they built their own city halls and stuff. And rather you took, the city decided to take a building already existing in technology park, in the hub of the city.

Lorri: [6:53] Well it was important to us to bring Tech Park back and make it successful again because it was the heart of the area during the 80s and early 90s. And it attracted people to our community. And if we had made an investment in Tech Park, I don’t think we would look that
good because we’re asking business to do it and we wouldn’t. And then to renovate something that’s there, I think it’s an important thing to do.

Rico: [7:25] Yeah. And I mean, it’s proof in the pudding if you will. I mean we went from a twenty-six percent vacancy rate and we’re now, we’re under 20. 19 I think. So things are coming back.

Lorri: [7:37] Property taxes, property appreciation has gone up over 10% during the period we’ve been a city.

Rico: [7:46] Now do you think that you, do you think that’s part of what the city’s done? Do you think that the reason for that?

Lorri: [7:52] Well it’s some of the things the city has done has spurred innovation. Have spurred growth in the city and attracted people to our community. And we’re trying to create places where people can live, work, and play because they don’t really like getting caught in traffic. The challenge we have is we have a major highway running through the middle of the city that we have no, really, control over other than figuring out if we can do anything to maximize the thruway part. So we’ve worked on light streaming so that we partner with our neighbors and Johns Creek and further north to sync up the lights to keep things moving when it goes through.

Rico: [8:42] Because it’s the Georgia State Highway, I believe isn’t it?

Lorri: [8:45] It’s a State Highway, yes. We have, in our city we have state highways, we have County highways, and we have city highways.

Rico: [8:53] Three different governments to, trying to figure out how to work together.

Lorri: [8:57] And we have collaborated a lot because we partnered with the state in getting the access road improved to get onto 285. We’ve partnered with them, another, the county on street projects both in sidewalks and in highways and paving. So no City can exist as an island.

Rico: [9:22] For sure. Do you think that I mean, let’s go to sidewalk infrastructure investment, for example. We’ve had 20 million dollars invested in 2015 alone. In roads and sidewalks Splost is a big part of that.

Lorri: [9:37] Yes it is.

Rico: [9:38] And that’s coming up again, I believe?

Lorri: [9:40] There’ll be a Splost initiative in about a couple years. In the hope. See the whole deal of us becoming a city as most people probably remember was, we weren’t getting Splosts.

Rico: [9:53] It was a part of the area.

Lorri: [9:54] We’re the largest city in population in the area. And so our citizens were paying into Splosts every year before we became a city. Well that same investment did not come back to us as an area. And the only way that would happen is if we became a city. So that was one of the reasons we became a city, in addition to being able to manage code enforcement and planning and zoning.

Rico: [10:24] Now we did have back, I guess a certain time before the city. We did have a commissioner that was a city commissioner that lived in Peachtree Corners. And we currently also have, well actually.

Lorri: [10:38] No we don’t have one living in the city now.

Rico: [10:41] Now we don’t, but we did in Linette Howard.

Lorri: [10:43] For many years yes. I mean we had people looking out for us but you’re talking a six to one vote.

Rico: [10:51] It’s a big difference and we do have a good Commissioner now in Ben Cooper though, I would say. But I would assume he would be in favor of another Splost update again of reupping it.

Lorri: [11:02] Well we would be in, we were in favor of Splost because some of the things we’ve been able to do have been primarily funded by Splosts. The city’s revenues come from franchise fees, business licenses, and other types of fees associated with being a city. And Splosts. But Splosts generates for us around nine to ten million dollars a year.

Rico: [11:28] And they’re mainly for roads, sidewalks, transportation?

Lorri: [11:30] Well it had been part of roads, transportation, sidewalks. The county handles education, the county handles police force, but I think it’s important for people to know how that works. But we have intergovernmental agreements also with the county for other services that we don’t provide.

Rico: [11:50] Are there services that you think, that you think the city should take over. I know we recently took over water, I think water and sewage, we took that over. Just before Peachtree station had the road fall out. I forget which road it was.

Lorri: [12:06] But that was an obligation of the county.

Rico: [12:09] At the time.

Lorri: [12:10] And they provided us some money to do that because it was their obligation before that.

Rico: [12:17] Before that but fortunate enough that was already being looked at at the time and plans were in place.

Lorri: [12:25] Plans were in place.

Rico: [12:26] Correct.

Lorri: [12:27] We had to improve some of those plans but it worked. We also preserved, helped acquire Simpson Wood.

Rico: [12:34] Simpson Wood park, right? Lorri: [12:35] Yes. Because, see the county was able to only invest so much in Simpson Wood Park. And if the city had not assisted them in that process that would probably be a development today.

Rico: [12:49] Because I think of the way that was zoned would have probably allowed two or three plus homes to be built there. And that’s right across from, for those that don’t know, is right across from Simpson Wood United Methodist. And actually was the retreat for Simpson United Methodist.

Lorri: [13:05] Well I’ve known that property for a long, long time. Being in the city a little while. We raised our kids here. They all graduated from Norcross High School.

Rico: [13:16] Right? Wow, okay.

Lorri: [13:18] Our oldest kids were at Peachtree Elementary when Brooks Coleman was principal.

Rico: [13:25] Yeah. Yeah.

Lorri: [13:28] So then they all went to Summer Hour. And then our daughter, who’s the youngest, she ended up at Pinckneyville after a year at Summer Hour. And then they all went to Peachtree Elementary and then she ended up at Brookley Lake Elementary one year and the next year at Simpson.

Rico: [13:44] Simpson yeah, probably when it opened I guess, right? So what do you, you know, there’s been so much accomplishment. You know people that know, listen to me on these podcasts and know, I don’t have problems with anything for the most part that the city has done. Maybe the original plans for the pedestrian bridge, I had a bit of an issue with, but I didn’t have
an issue with the bridge. I had an issue with the size of the bridge, the design, the money being spent, correct. Now that’s been paired down by more than half from the original estimate.

Lorri: [14:18] Absolutely. You can see where, you can see the progress beginning on the bridge.

Rico: [14:22] And it’s starting that, right because they put up the blocks and stuff. So when… So they’re starting to level out the ground, I think right?

Lorri: [14:29] Well what’ll happen is they build the infrastructure for the bridge. And then one weekend, they’ll put up the arches.

Rico: [14:39] Because it’s a prefab, right?

Lorri: [14:41] It’s a beautiful bridge in terms of representing what we’re familiar with in our city. So I was primarily, very honestly, in favor of a tunnel.

Rico: [14:52] Really? Like the Johns Creek Tunnel?

Lorri: [14:54] Well, I’ve seen a lot of tunnels internationally and they work very well. And it doesn’t… let’s say if they wanted to add two lanes say to 141, it’s then going to affect the bridge. It wouldn’t affect a tunnel, but it would affect the bridge. So that was some of the reasoning I had, but I’m very happy with the final design we came up with for the bridge. And I feel it’ll be well used. And it wouldn’t have made sense to start the bridge till we got the Town Center there.

Rico: [15:29] Sure. The bridge to nowhere would not have been good.

Lorri: [15:32] No. they had that up in Gainesville originally. In fact, they just finished their bridge.

Rico: [15:37] Right. So the bridge is going to be coming up and then I know there are plans for an offshoot pedestrian sort of walkway for the botanical gardens park and stuff.

Lorri: [15:38] It’ll be like botanical gardens but it’ll be a park type place. It’ll be beautiful.

Rico: [15:56] Now and you know, listen. The city has done a lot of things. They bought the park of Simpson wood.

Lorri: [16:04] They assisted it.

Rico: [16:06] They assisted it, correct. It was a million dollars plus and Gwinnett County fitted most of the money actually for it. And it’s a Gwinnett county park not a city park.

Lorri: [16:16] The parks are Gwinnett County Parks, but we are very blessed in our city. Because we have four parks on the Chattahoochee River. And have wonderful places for people to play and enjoy. We do really need though some play space in the south side of town.

Rico: [16:39] Where in the south side do you think?

Lorri: [16:40] I think that we could find some property around Mechanicsville and around that area over on, you know, toward the Winners Chapel and that side. Jimmy Carter area. Because those kids really don’t have access to the type of amenities that are on this end of town and I think that’s something that we need to work with. The county does parks, and we just need to help provide a little incentive and initiative to do that. Now the other thing though that’s coming in, they’ve got the design for, is the upgrade of Simpson wood park.

Rico: [17:17] Right the master plan for that. But they’re still keeping it a passive park.

Lorri: [17:21] Oh, it’s always going to be a passive park.

Rico: [17:23] They’re just expanding on the…

Lorri: [17:25] They’re going to add a couple overlooks. They’re going to improve the trails.

Rico: [17:31] In fact there’s going to be a paved trail and the multi-use trail.

Lorri: [17:33] There’s going to be a multi-use paved trail and also there will be a playground but it’s going to be very interesting, the play space. Because it’s going to be in the trees. Now you take these little children, it gets a little warm in the summer. And every playground is out there in the hot sun.

Rico: [17:56] Yeah, for sure. Lorri: [17:57] And we’ve found a design for a play space that is in the trees.

Rico: [18:03] So when you say in the trees, you mean like under the tree canopy.

Lorri: [18:06] It’ll be under the tree canopy.

Rico: [18:08] Because I’m thinking tree tops, but under the tree canopy. And you’re right most Gwinnett parks are not built that way. Gwinnett County Parks tend to clear a space and put the play, playground area in an open space. So this would be under the canopy where it makes more sense.

Lorri: [18:27] Well see the other part of it is that it protects the environment when you do that. I’m kind of a green person and you know every day today we hear more and more and more
about being green. But it means a lot for the future of our children and grandchildren, and now I’m a great-grandmother so I’m even more concerned about it. But I think that that’s an ideal way to do that. There are two types of parks in Gwinnett. There are passive parks and active parks. And so Simpson Wood is a passive park which means very little development in the park and keeping the trails and that available to everyone to play. And Jones Bridge Park, which was the first County Park. I don’t know if most people know that.

Rico: [19:20] Probably not that I would think. That makes sense though.

Lorri: [19:22] That was why it has been redeveloped because it’s totally different than many of the other parks. But they have been bringing it back into that type of stage.

Rico: [19:32] In the last couple of years they have just renovated that whole area. When are they releasing the master plan for Simpson Wood then. Or I thought there was still some more work to be done on it?

Lorri: [19:43] Well the plan is done. See the funding is in the next block.

Rico: [19:49] So nothing’s going to happen for the next year or two. Or two years, I guess, right?

Lorri: [19:53] Right. But the park is open and available to the public.

Rico: [19:56] Oh, yeah for sure and it’s a great place for shots and photography in there. We’ve done some videos in that area.

Lorri: [20:01] We’ve hosted arbor days there.

Rico: [20:03] Yeah. It’s a beautiful chapel building there as well.

Lorri: [20:06] Oh it is.

Rico: [20:09] So to go back to a little bit about you know, the county has services that are… Some of the services are being supplied like Gwinnett police does the policing. Gwinnett fire…

Lorri: [20:20] Fire, police and the emergency.

Rico: [20:23] So they do all that. We’ve taken over the sewage and the sewage services from the county. So we get funded for that. Those dollars come directly to us now and then we can spend that money here based on per capita.

Lorri: [20:38] And care of the problems that might exist in the city. And when you have some places we have more than 40 and 50 year old instructors to deal with.

Rico: [20:45] For sure. And so are there any other services that you think that the city should take over also that the city may provide or that you see in the future that the city should provide.

Lorri: [21:00] Well, I think we have some challenges in a couple areas. One, we don’t have enough senior housing in the community for what’s projected to be the number of seniors. Statewide we’ve seen the numbers just dramatically grow. I think that’s important. And like I said, I think we need some more play space that you know, what we need to do is encourage and partner with the county. To get play spaces for people that don’t have play spaces. So kids have a chance to get outside and be safe.

Rico: [21:39] You took you know, I mean, I know Brookhaven was just that… a Brookhaven candidate forum. And they’re talking about pocket parks.

Lorri: [21:46] Yeah, we have we have a pocket park. Yeah, we have one pocket park down behind the condominiums. Where, you know, down behind that area where Lynn Williams lives?

Rico: [22:01] Yes, yes. I know Crooked Creek?

Lorri: [22:03] It’s a little further than Crooked Creek. You know, we’re putting in multi-use trails and we’ll see things improve when those trails go in and gets down really toward Crooked Creek, not all in Tech Park. So that’ll happen. I think that you know, we’ve had some people say we need more affordable housing. But that’s a challenge. And when you think about affordable housing you got to find the right way to do that. Because what happens is if you have too much affordable housing, it decreases the property values of people in the community. So any decisions we make in that area have to be very carefully thought-out. We do have on the calendar some potential development over in the Mechanicsville area. It could be supportive of that type of development.

Rico: [22:59] Now, I noticed that other cities are talking about the same thing, affordable housing. Because you want to be able to have people that can work in the community. And work in jobs that are local jobs. And it gets expensive to live even in the city of Peachtree Corners it could be expensive to live, for a family. Let’s say, a family of two or three. Is there, I mean, there are ways to adjust for that though now. Are there any suggestions you have?

Lorri: [23:28] Well, I think you have to find a developer that’s interested in taking advantage of some of the resources that are available that permit affordable housing and acquiring the property. We face some of the same challenges when it comes to apartments. Our city has spent probably seven and a half years trying to incent and try to acquire some ancient old apartment buildings that don’t need to be here. But the challenge is that because of our education system, which is so wonderful, those places are full. So a landowner doesn’t feel like he has to be inspired to do something different.

Rico: [24:12] Right. When there’s 95 percent occupancy. I mean, you know full rental.

Lorri: [24:16] But I think it’s important that the public should understand what the challenge is there. Because we couldn’t afford to buy them at the current rate.

Rico: [24:28] Right and no one else wants to buy them, actually because it’s expensive too. Because to be able to buy that usually, there’s a cycle, right? So things go bad, property values dro, and then all of a sudden you can buy that property.

Lorri: [24:42] Well, we did that with our city hall.

Rico: [24:46] That’s right. Lorri: [24:47] And we did that in acquiring the Prototype Prime Building.

Rico: [24:49] That’s right, and that was through a grant so that was pretty much, it was for free if you will. Also so that was no debt also on that one. Lorri: [24:57] So we’ve worked very hard at being fiscally responsible. In trying to deliver good things to the citizens. There are still many things. You know, there are a lot of things that we need to think we can do but we have to figure out how we fund them and moving forward.

Rico: [25:16] Are there other things that you’d like to see done that we haven’t. That’s on the board maybe or on your?

Lorri: [25:21] Well, you know, we’ve… There’s a lot of people who have asked a lot of questions about a second bridge. And we have in the comprehensive plan, plans for a second bridge that bridges the gap from the hill down to Holcomb Bridge.

Rico: [25:38] That’s right. So and that was in the master plan actually too.

Lorri: [25:40] That’s in our comprehensive plan.

Rico: [25:43] So is that going to be coming at some point?

Lorri: [25:46] We have we have a strategic planning meeting coming up in November. Where we’ll look and see what the things are that are most possible for the coming year. But we’re going to be focused on bringing the community together. I think the other thing we need to do is find more ways to engage more citizens. I mean, we have 4, over 43,000 people in this community. And there are opportunities for us to collaborate and come together and address many things, like the Peachtree Corners Business Association does a lot for our community. The United Peachtree Corners Civic Association brings all of the homeowners together. But we need to have other groups like, thinking about an art center and a music center for our city. That would be important.

Rico: [26:41] So there’s an art Council right?

Lorri: [26:44] Yes. We have an art council.

Rico: [26:47] We have a plan, I think, out of them. Or at least a study that was done. Lorri: [26:49] Yes we do. We have a start of a plan.

Rico: [26:52] And that is near and dear to my heart because I would love to see an art center actually built with a theater in it. And an event hall probably, that could be used as a gallery as well.

Lorri: [27:05] Those are things that have always been particularly interested in.

Rico: [27:09] Do you have a particular place you’d like to see that? Lorri: [27:12] Well, we have a little property that we acquired near the town center.

Rico: [27:16] that would be a perfect place, right off the town center. Right. That would be cool.

Lorri: [27:20] It’ll be interesting. I’d like to hear the citizens input really, on what they would like us to do with that property. Because some would like to see us expand the town green and some might be more interested in an art center or that. And I think it’s important to get citizens’ input on what we do.

Rico: [27:41] Sure, makes a lot of sense. And I think there was a study so there was a survey that was done.

Lorri: [27:45] Yeah, there was a study. We do check the citizens out and ask him to tell us. Right now we’re working very hard to figure out, I’ve got a lot of questions on the Michigan U-turn.

Rico: [27:58] Oh the roundabout you’re talking about?

Lorri: [28:00] No, not the roundabout. They’re looking at the intersection at East Jones and 141, which is the most trafficked intersection in the city. And the proposal has been because the state would fund the majority of it to do Michigan U-turns. There’s a lot of concern about that and…

Rico: [28:26] It’s a little different. I’ve been in Detroit where they, where I used one several times and it was… you had to get used to it because it was a lot different than what you might see here on the East Coast.

Lorri: [28:37] It is but there are some of them, in other areas of the state, and they are successful. And I really think it will increase safety.

Rico: [28:49] So you think that might be coming. Couple of those, or at least one of those.

Lorri: [28:54] Maybe, maybe not. Because a lot of people… See the other thing is it’ll change the whole corner there dramatically. It’ll tie up traffic dramatically for a while.

Rico: [29:07] While they construct it.

Lorri: [29:08] So those are concerns but I think safety should be our first concern.

Rico: [29:12] I mean, you know, listen to the construction of something is always a one-time thing anyway. So it’s the outcome, whether the outcome is going to be for better or worse is what it’s about. All right, cool. There were a few other things. So the cities is involved obviously with the Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, the autonomous vehicle track. City council was visionary, thinking of visionary ways to bring the city forward when it first started by funding some of these things. Originally with Prototype Prime as an incubator and then evolving that into much more.

Lorri: [29:40] We’re very fortunate to have three incubator environments in our city. I mean, I’ve always believed in that because I grew up in the technology industry since 1965. And if you don’t have a way to do innovation, you’re not going to grow. Because you’re creating new jobs or creating opportunities for people. And that’s what Paul Duke saw when he came here back in the 80s.

Rico: [30:18] So do you, what do you see happening over the next couple of years? What more beyond what citizens might see now with the autonomous track and all that?

Lorri: [30:27] Well the autonomous track was built primarily to attract industries that were related to the autonomous vehicles. And all the technology that goes along with it. What other things could be autonomous? That’s the question you can ask. You know, and like we saw in the dedication, The Drone delivering a package? You’ve got people talking about autonomous scooters. And the whole thing about autonomous scooters is what they want to be able to do is get the scooters back where they belong after they’ve been used.

Rico: [31:07] Right. Seeing those scooters drive around by themselves, heading back home.

Lorri: [31:12] So that’s a part of the autonomous area. But what other developments are going to occur in medicine? And in Healthcare? And areas like that, that are also areas for innovation.

Rico: [31:27] Biomedical, pharmaceutical. Or are you talking about retail medicine?

Lorri: [31:30] Well in telemedicine. And the extensions of telemedicine that might enable people that don’t get access to Medical Services to have them. I’m totally excited that Gwinnett Medical located their operations in our city. I’ve been pushing for that since I was a counselman because we didn’t have any of that here.

Rico: [31:54] And Northside just took that over. So yeah, they’re getting bigger. The northside is getting bigger in the North part of Atlanta as well.

Lorri: [32:04] Very much so.

Rico: [32:06] The issues that arise sometimes from some of these developments and stuff; privacy issues. I talked with Brian Johnson on one of the podcasts on Prime Lunchtime with The City Manager about doing, about the cameras and license plate identification cameras as well as facial recognition type cameras for security. We talked about how those could be put out in different parts of the city and even in near different neighborhoods in front of different neighborhoods.

Lorri: [32:39] And the neighborhoods can make a choice on whether they want to do that or not.

Rico: [32:44] Do you find that as a good thing?

Lorri: [32:47] I think safety is important. And you know, it’s kind of like some deterrents serve to keep people safe. So I mean the good people aren’t going to mind you putting out a camera.

Rico: [33:04] But there’s privacy to a degree.

Lorri: [33:07] But the access to those devices are limited. And the information is protected and encrypted. So that it isn’t like it’s wide open access for everybody.

Rico: [33:21] Right. And we talked a little bit about that.

Lorri: [33:24] The city is not going to track how many times you come and go home a day.

Rico: [33:30] No I’m sure the city won’t be doing that. But you’re right there will be restrictions on its use from what I understand from Brian Johnson.

Lorri: [33:39] No question about it. I mean the use is only for safety and for crime prevention.

Rico: [33:48] And we want to stay ahead of that. I mean we the city hasn’t had real… I haven’t heard. I mean I keep watching my crime…

Lorri: [33:55] We just had a murder last night.

Rico: [33:57] Yes, we did. That’s right.

Lorri: [34:02] And it’s sad. But there’s some of the problems like the opioid crisis and those items. I mean those are things that we need to.. it’s not a city responsibility but to be cognizant enough and aware of in able to help drive solutions to those type of problems. It’s like with all, we have a number of hotels here. The other area we’ve got to be concerned about is human traffic. Most people don’t really believe there’s a human trafficking problem.

Rico: [34:40] Because they’re not aware of it or they’re just not looking.

Lorri: [34:42] They don’t see it. I mean I’ve worked with a number of organizations over the years and I’m very aware of that type of environment.

Rico: [34:53] Do you think Gwinnett County police are doing a good job with that?

Lorri: [34:57] I think they’re doing all they can do. I mean the big job there is education because you know, see something do something. You have to do that.

Rico: [35:13] For sure. It’s a tough, it’s a tough question, right.

Lorri: [35:17] The other thing that I’m not quite sure how to address, but it requires funding, is I mean when I sit here there’s about 200 homeless kids at Norcross High School. We don’t have any Rainbow Village in Peachtree Corners. This is something that the city, you can get some grants and money and things behind something like that so that we could have a facility to do that. I have been involved in a number of the homeless people I’ve run into since being a councilman when I’ve gotten calls and gone to see in what we do. Currently at least they take them downtown to the shelter in downtown Atlanta. But most of them don’t, but they have to agree to go. They don’t want to go because we have really nice people in Peachtree Corners and they generate the revenue here.

Rico: [36:15] So do you foresee maybe a shelter of some sort in Peachtree Corners?

Lorri: [36:18] Well, I think we should have some place where people get help and support. With a population of 43,000 the largest one with nothing. I think that’s something that we could, we need to think about and how we could go about it.

Rico: [36:35] I mean that could be a private-public… public-private

Lorri: [36:38] Public-private partnership.

Rico: [36:41] What other issues are on your mind that you’d like to talk about?

Lorri: [36:49] Well, the only things I would like to say is; I appreciate the citizens of the city giving me the opportunity to serve them. I would like to continue to serve them if it’s their choice. And hopefully everybody will go vote. I’d like to have them both for me, but I’d be equally honored if they went to vote. Because it’s a privilege we have that not a lot of people have. I think it’s extremely important to do that. And I want to say how much I enjoy serving with my fellow councilman. We have a really good team and without the team goals that we’ve had, we would never have been able to accomplish what we have in this short period of time. I’m thrilled to be a part of Peachtree Corners.

Rico: [37:40] And I’d be remiss to not say that you’re being opposed in re-election.

Lorri: [37:46] That is true.

Rico: [37:47] And there’s other candidates like the mayor or other servants of the city that are running unopposed. You’re actually the only one being exposed right now.

Lorri: [37:57] That’s because I have a large seat. That means anybody can run against me. Rico: [38:01] Correct. So you’re not stuck in a post. So anyone in the city can actually vote for you.

Lorri: [38:08] Yes everyone in the city can vote in this election

Rico: [38:12] And this election obviously November 5th.

Lorri: [38:14] Well it the polls are open now from 9:00 to 4:00 Monday through Friday, until November 1st at City Hall. And then election day it’s 7:00 to 7:00 at City Hall.

Rico: [38:28] So advance voting. Absentee voting?

Lorri: [38:32] Absentee voting. In fact, if anybody needs an absentee ballot, I’ll be happy to get one to them. I took them over to Village Park last week. I told them I would come back and get them and deliver them.

Rico: [38:46] Very good. So they can find more information about you and at www.Re-ellectLorri5.com. All right.

Lorri: [39:05] Or the committee to re-elect Lorri Christopher on Facebook.

Rico: [39:09] On Facebook, cool. And if they want to reach you, I mean on Twitter you’re @Lorri504. And they really can find and reach out to you through any of those.

Lorri: [39:20] They can also reach out to me from the city site.

Rico: [39:23] Okay. So go to the City of Peachtree Corners.

Lorri: [39:26] www.PeachtreeCornersga.gov Rico: [39:29] You got it. That’s cool. I think we’ve covered quite a bit. I appreciate you coming out. Lorri Christopher running for re-election for City Council of the City of Peachtree Corners.

Lorri: [39:42] And please invite everyone to vote. It’s their privilege.

Rico: [39:45] And don’t forget when you vote at City Hall because that election day is at your precinct for… I think there’s, no actually there’s nothing.

Lorri: [39:54] There’s no precincts. There’s no voting except at city hall this year. Rico: [40:00] At City Hall this time this year. Yeah, very good. Thank you Lorri.

Lorri: [40:04] Thank you.

Rico: [40:05] Thank yo



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City Government

Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager: Micro-mobility Hubs, License Plate Recognition Cameras [Podcast]

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Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager

City Manager Brian Johnson joins Rico Figliolini to discuss a possible Micro mobility Transit Hub, e-scooters, LG – MRI, Special Service Districts and updates on the pedestrian bridge, the Indigo Hotel, license plate recognition cameras and more. Recorded at Atlanta Tech Park in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia

“A lot of what that is driving that lately tends to be around Curiosity Lab as we know it’s serving the very purpose that it was created to serve, which is to become a magnet for companies… But a lot of what we’re doing in the economic development arena is taking the Curiosity Labs environment that we’ve created and talked to companies about how they can use it”

Brian Johnson

Related Links:
https://www.curiositylabptc.com/
https://www.hargrayfiber.com/

Timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:42] – LG Tele-scooters
[00:16:39] – LG MRI
[00:23:19] – License Plate Recognition Cameras
[00:40:22] – Redevelopment Authority
[00:44:03] – Pedestrian Bridge
[00:46:22] – Indigo Hotel
[00:47:17] – Fiserv Property
[00:47:31] – Peachtree Corners Festival
[00:48:44] – Workforce Housing
[00:51:40] – Closing

Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and this show once a month with Brian Johnson, the City Manager. It’s Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager. Hey, Brian.

Brian: [00:00:39] How are you?

Rico: [00:00:40] Good. Good. It’s been awhile. We’re going to go through, let me, let me talk about my friends though. Our lead sponsor. So my friends had Hargray Fiber. They just became a lead sponsor, and I want to tell you a little bit about them. They are a company that is not unique in the space, but provides unique solutions. So they are a fiber company business to business. Just moved into Peachtree Corners that based out of Savannah and Hilton. They craft customized solutions for hundreds of businesses throughout the Southeast. They are working with small businesses to provide affordable bundled services and enterprise level businesses that are looking for a full suite of managed IT services. So Hargray Fiber can customize those solutions to work best depending on what your company and your industry needs. So an amount of that industry, Internet, high quality TV, phone solutions. They’re the ones to do it. They have a local presence. You don’t have to worry about the cable guy. They will be there and they are community friendly and they are doing lots of outreach to the city of Peachtree Corners.

Brian: [00:01:46] I’ll just say, let me add one more thing. Hargray not only has their office in Tech Park. But they are the fiber provider, the official fiber provider of Curiosity Lab. So if you think of all the technology that we have, or we’ll be talking about and Curiosity Lab, be it 5G. Which, you know, people are like, wait a second, 5G is wireless. Well, the wireless, the 5G antennas that spit the wireless signal out have to be powered by something and they’re powered by a fiber line and it’s Hargray, the backbone of Curiosity Lab. All the technology, the backbone of it is the fiber line that Hargray provided. So it would, it literally, none of it could work without a fiber optic cable that Hargray provided is, wouldn’t be working. So they’re a key part of Curiosity Lab.

Rico: [00:02:42] Excellent. And if you want to find out more about Hargray, just go to HargrayFiber.com. That’s HargrayFiber.com. And we’re on, we’re in Atlanta Tech Park and this podcast studio is here at, which is in Tech Park, Atlanta on the road of Curiosity Lab that went on the test track. So this is cool. In the midst of this, we’re going to be talking about a lot of things going on, high tech and and also keep an eye out for Peachtree Corners Magazine. Our next, this should be out in another week or so. And we have a cover story on companies here on Peachtree Corners, innovative technology driven, and a big part of this community. So, we’ve been, I think, it’s been about a month maybe that we have, haven’t spoken since. I mean, you’re on the show on the podcast. So there’s lots going on. And guess what, we were talking ahead of the show about something going on there. Reminds me of Bladerunner, for some reason. It’s just the technology to be able to see the big images of things on, in the public realm and public streets and stuff. Tell us what’s going on with the Tele-scooters with LG specifically that you met with, that’s going to be out there that people can see.

Brian: [00:03:58] Well, you know, part of any city’s operation is economic development. You’re always wanting to make sure that, you know, the businesses you have are healthy or attract new business. And so you, you know, cities do that. We do that. A lot of what that is driving that lately tends to be around Curiosity Lab as we know it’s serving the very purpose that it was created to serve, which is to become a magnet for companies to either come to Peachtree Corners on a temporary basis, you know, even for the day to use or, or tour or whatever. And you know, we at least know that if they’re here for one day, they got to eat lunch and they’re going to eat in our restaurants. And you know, just a couple of days in our, our, hotels, we’ll get, you know, the indirect benefit of revenue from them. But a lot of what we’re doing in the economic development arena is taking the Curiosity Labs environment that we’ve created and talking to companies about how they can use it. And we’re getting ready to unveil the next very unique user of Curiosity Lab, which is the tele-operated E-Scooter. And so…

Rico: [00:05:14] Which is available now, actually even, right?

Brian: [00:05:16] No, not quite. Not quite. You may have seen them out there, the company getting ready to, to task, but the way it’ll work is we all know what an E-scooter is. A lot of controversy lately about E-scooters in cities. Especially in Atlanta, where you’ve had two things that have created problems. One, of course, is the users of the scooters, not obeying traffic laws or being cavalier. Too fast on sidewalks when they shouldn’t have been on sidewalks at all. Or I’m trying to zip in between automobiles and they get hit by, you know, so the, unfortunately, unlike the drivers of automobiles, irresponsible drivers, you can’t. You can never overcome. But the other aspect of E-scooters that are frustrating is the fact that people will leave them wherever they want. And the difficulty and the overhead costs of the company that owns a scooter, repositioning them for more people makes it difficult. And it frustrates people when you’re walking down the sidewalk and there’s, you know, 12 E-scooters all over the. Well, the company and it’s two companies that joined forces for this that are going to be testing a way to maybe address that issue is. We’re going to have tele operated E-scooters. And those are E-scooters, like you could buy from, you know, whatever, you know, sporting goods store or whatever. And they have been retrofitted with a kit that adds two little training wheels to the back so that they can stand on their own. Because most of them are just, you know, two wheels so they can stand on their own and a camera on the front stem and when necessary, the E-scooter can be driven by a human from a remote location via the camera that the, that they’re viewing through the, so in this case, the company has a tele operation center in Mexico city, and so they’re going to have, it’s almost like a call center. Where you got people sitting at stations and when it’s time for the E-scooter to be activated, you know, from a distance, they can then have the screen go live. The consumer takeover and drive the East scooter and how that’s gonna work is they’re going to look at the scalability of doing this for two reasons. One, you can summon the scooter, like an Uber or Lyft. And so they’re going to have an app that if you want to do it for, if you work in Tech Park or you want to do it just for novelty sake, you can have the scooter come to you. And then you jump on it and you drive it like any other scooter. That’s one. And the other one is, is they’re going to, the companies go into look into whether or not on a
large scale by large scale, they’ll get up to about a hundred E-scooters, but no more than that. They’ll see if they can reposition the E-scooters from that Mexico city location using tele operation and not have to get up truck and two guys driving all these locations.

Rico: [00:08:52] Which is a big economy in Atlanta cause that’s what they’re doing in Atlanta.

Brian: [00:08:55] That’s correct. That’s what they have to do everywhere because what other way would they reposition them?

Rico: [00:09:00] So 5G actually helps it because there’s no latency, really, or very minimal?

Brian: [00:09:06] I think so. Yeah. For all intents and purposes, none for that. So that’ll help. And then they’re also testing, because you know, 5G will take a while for it to get their testing. The ability to transition from 4G LTE to 5G and back and forth. And then, so they get to test that out. And then what you refer to at the beginning is this got back from talking with a local company called LG MRI, which makes LG exterior televisions screens, whether in, it could be touch-screens or, or what, but they make it specifically for the outdoors. And we are talking about maybe partnering or, or having a collaborative effort between a number of companies. In the case of LG MRI, they would provide touch-screen televisions at the bus stop and we would also integrate this kind of micro mobility transit hub. It would be a bus stop, a real world bus stop that Gwinnett Transit…

Rico: [00:10:12] That already exists.

Brian: [00:10:13] Gwinnett County transit has, exists. Who would have the, you know, the bus stop shelter cover would have solar panels and those solar panels would provide the electricity for the LG screens and we’re going to integrate a docking station for the E-scooters into this. And so you could invariably ride the bus to this spot and then jump on the E-scooter to do that last couple hundred yards or whatever to your office, or vice versa. When it’s time to go home, if you’re going to go home via bus, and this is like real world buses isn’t like a, you know, coming to people testing, this is a, yeah, but, and these scooters are going to be available to the public.

Rico: [00:11:05] Anyone that’s within technology park?

Brian: [00:11:07] Well, no, you can come over here and just use it for novelty if you want, but I’m just saying, you know, you can actually get on and so, but let’s say you work in Tech Park. I mean, you could some in the E-scooter to your office through an app, through an app. It gets there. You jump on it, you ride it to the bus stop. You put it in the docking station and then when the bus comes, you get on the bus while you’re waiting, you can either see at, you can use the interactive kiosk, you could find out how far away the bus is, you can do all sorts of things.

Rico: [00:11:40] That might be cool to be able to see real live, 10 minutes away. And then also it’s going to be able to play probably commercials or all the things in big huge screens and stuff. That’s the part that reminded me about Bladerunner for some reason.

Brian: [00:11:56] And you know, this kind of stuff, these companies want to, you know, be involved in creating, you know, call it the bus stop in the future. We have all these things together, you know, inside these screens and these television, exterior television screens, the LG MRI, people call it their chassis, but it’s got a container basically. That houses all the components inside and it’s completely watertight and it also cools the interior components.

Rico: [00:12:30] So even if it’s a hundred degrees outside.

Brian: [00:12:31] Even if it’s a hundred degrees, it’s good, but it also has the capability of adding third party devices inside the box. To provide lots of things outside of this one box, including like DSRC roadside units, 5G small cell antennas, wireless access points. All inside of this box and the television that it will, the entire, you know, kind of all in one module also has edge computing. So it actually can compute certain things. It has a degree of artificial intelligence and computation ability at that location versus having to go, you know, somewhere to some brain somewhere else and come back. And so it could, so these companies are loving this sandbox we’ve created. For them to come play. And so we’re kind of like being a, to a degree, a, a matchmaker, you know, we’re, we’re talking to, Hey, they’re doing this and what about you doing this? And we’re kind of like the matchmaker that owns the house and we’re like, you know, or owns a restaurant. We’re like, why don’t you two get together and you can come to our restaurant and have your date where we’re telling them we got some property here. No, he’s saying to come here, we’ll kind of facilitate. We’ll let you tie into certain things.

Rico: [00:13:51] And you know, it’s a cool, it’s almost like I could almost see at some point, you know, asking Gianna, or Emma, what’s the temperature now and how far is that bus? It’ll answer that.

Brian: [00:14:00] Yes, yes, they have that. So, you know, here’s some interesting stuff. So these units, when we were talking to them, they have deployed these units recently at the entry points. To Taylor Swift concerts. And what they’ve done is the screens have been displaying imagery that’s of some interest to people going there. And inside the box is facial recognition software. And when people are looking at the image, it will take and get us a snapshot of their face. And it scrubs that against databases that I guess the Taylor Swift security team has for people who are on, kind of call it a watch list for her like that. Then there’s a restraining order against them because they’ve been stalking her. They’ve made comments on social media sites about her. They’ve been, and so these celebrities have people that do that, and so they’ve been able to identify people who have posed or have a high potential, suppose a threat to her. So that helps them. Sure. It’s being done on a private, private venues. So there’s not this whole, you don’t have any, you know, they voluntarily went to this for.

Rico: [00:15:30] Sure. It’s not a public thing.

Brian: [00:15:31] No, it is not a public, they buy a ticket. And they know. Right. And so I’m at a private, you know, concert venue. But then the security team knows, and I actually don’t know what was done about it. It could have been, they just kept an eye on him. It could’ve been that they were asked to leave because of, you know, I know that the team, you know, the, the, the company that provided this housing, this chassis for all this technology did say that, you know. They, it identified some people who there was a restraining order against, because they had been convicted of stalking. So maybe there’s those rests leave. But anyway, the other interesting thing is the concert venue insurance requirement.

Rico: [00:16:15] Did that go down?

Brian: [00:16:16] Went down because the insurance company was like, you know what? You are minimizing risks for things, so you don’t have to have as many. But the unique part of this is this, is technology that’s housed in one water tight, secure unit, and it’s using multiple things at the same time to further.

Rico: I mean, just interested in the, you know, at home, if you have an alarm system, of course your home insurance will be discounted. So similar. And it also introduces, I mean, this is great. I mean, I’m, I’m all for this, certain people are like afraid of the technology to a degree. And there is even talk, I don’t know if this is, I think this is in England, Europe at this point. But you may come across the ocean to us to talk about moratorium and facial recognition, recognition videos because of in the public realm, in the public space. Because of privacy concerns and stuff. And I know, you know, so our next and next thing, and this is cool, so that was the LG MRI?

Brian: [00:17:20] Yup.

Rico: [00:17:20] So people can Google that and find out more.

Brian: [00:17:23] Yeah. I mean their, their manufacturing plant. Fascinating. They had just asked us to come over and meet and they wanted us to show the, show us their site too, but they are going to have, they also are interested in hanging digital, digital screens on the side of light poles like you see out here now that are the banners, they make, ones that you can have digital. So you can have all sorts of messaging on that and it’s not the same thing. So yes, it is. So they’re going to do that stuff. So today was, they were like, we’re going to do something where can we put things as we told them, here are the areas of our sandbox. You can do things. And so we’re going to have another meeting in a week or two where they’re going to come back and say, we would like to do things here, here.

Rico: [00:18:15] That’s amazing, I bet you didn’t even think about that. This and that at this point.

Brian: [00:18:18] There’s so much of this that I didn’t even know. I mean, some of it’s really cool, like, wow, you know, I didn’t realize that technology is here. Some of it is in technology that I thought was farther along than it is. It’s represented that it is, but when you get into it, it’s not quite as, so I’ve had both, but yes, I mean, so just unique things that can be done in a, in a, you know, using technology, especially when you pair a bunch of them together.

Rico: [00:18:47] The, so let’s, let’s go into, because. This past Tuesday, city council meeting, a few things went on that LG MRI that was really all support allowed because of what you passed just recently. The micro mobility, a piece of it.

Brian: [00:19:02] Yes. So for us to have E-scooters operated on, because currently E-scooters, haven’t really been addressed by the city much. It was addressed in our entertainment district ordinance in it for it prohibited E-scooters, essentially in our entertainment district, which is our town center and kind of that area. Other than that it’s not addressed. So theoretically, you know, somebody could go buy one and go out there, but we had to address it in some way. But because this is a pilot program, it’s testing or whatever. What we did is we created the programs similar to kind of how we regulate other activity within our right of way. Like if a telecommunications company wanted to come in and do work in our rideaway, like very cable, we have to give them a permit to do that. We did the same with the E-scooter, created one for a scooter so that they can have, that can be the activity that they are involved in in our right of way.

Rico: [00:20:09] Is that a sunset rule also?

Brian: [00:20:11] It is. So it set a couple of things. One is initially it’s just a curiosity lab. Two, it is a year long pilot program. Three, it has to be geo-fenced. So there has to be, the technological capability of having the E-scooter shutdown if it gets outside of a previously defined area. So if you tried to drive it up to the town center, at a certain point it was shut down. Similar for the golfers out there, sometimes you get on a golf cart has GPS and you’re supposed to be cart path only and you get off the car path, often times it’ll shut down or it’ll go real, real slow until you go back. And so similar. And then we also require this permit. Requires the E-scooter operator to have tele operation capability. And because E-scooters in general don’t need to be tested, I mean they work, right? This is the test part. The reason there’s a lab that’s needed is because of that tele operation. So we’ll start on that and if it works out, we can always expand the boundaries a little bit. Would love to create a scenario in which you could have E-scooters go from the thousand plus hotel rooms we have at the south end of Curiosity Lab between the Hilton, the Marriott was a Homewood suites in Hampton and the town center for that. I mean that’s, there’s a, that’s a need base between the two, especially Sunday or Thursday night,

Rico: [00:21:48] 141 because those sidewalks.

Brian: [00:21:50] Potentially, I mean, state law, there are some, there’s a lot of in the, in the Georgia General Assembly. Is currently considering legislation on defining certain aspects of
E-scooters. So we’re keeping an eye on that and made reference to our permit, would permit it would have to adhere to all state and local laws on E- scooter. So if that tweaks things, you know here soon because the General Assembly did something. But anyway, that’s kind of how it will operate. But they’ll get ultimately up to a hundred scooters and they are available to the public as just like any other e-scooter. Well, I don’t know if it’s free. They may end up having a slight, okay. They might, we’ve encouraged it not to since it’s a pilot, but that’s not our decision. So we don’t know that yet. But yeah, but. If you do get on it, you know it. It’s, it’s an off the shelf E-scooter that they’ve nearly outfitted with a camera on the front stem, training wheels on the back, which as an operator of it, you don’t deploy, they deploy it remotely. So it’s just like any other ones. If somebody’s been on a bird or a lime or do the same thing, it’s just that when you’re off of it, the company may on its own decide to move it somewhere else.

Rico: [00:23:19] So we were talking a little bit about the micro movability part and stuff like that too. So there’s gonna, you also discussed the, license recognition, facial recognition. cameras that are going to be deployed. So did that come to fruition did the city council decide on a plan on how that’s going to happen?

Brian: [00:23:39] So at the council meeting, we had the first read of the final bill. Final vote will be at the February council meeting, but the council had the first read of an ordinance creating the, or it’s really activating the city’s ability to create what are called special service districts. What that is, is, home rule municipalities in Georgia have the authority to create a special service district and they can define the district how they essentially see fit. And inside this district, there can be unique things that happen inside this, just this district for a specific service. An example of that would be you could create a special service district for public safety, and you could do things inside of this special district that were specifically aimed at improving public safety. So doing things like installing video and license plate recognition cameras, installing streetlights, those are things that improve public safety. That special district can have unique things about it. For instance, it could, council could say, install a bunch of streetlights on a street that was dark, that was not a connector street, one that did not serve a true public purpose. So a neighborhood street that maybe was a residential street that had houses on it, and a dead end. But the mayor, if it had problems there, the city could install streetlights on the street and then take the pro rata share of the cost of the streetlight and equally distribute it amongst all the homes that benefit from the surface or all the apartments, as the case may be the apartment units.

Rico: [00:25:47] So now volunteering to be part of that if someone wants to, if a subdivision wants to be part of that and volunteer, you guys have set up percentages or ways to do that?

Brian: [00:25:58] Yes. So, and you know, you’re referring to the fact we’ve talked about before, that this ability to create a special service district gives counsel the ability to determine what threshold that would be required before they did it. We can start with kind of the fact that council can impose it.

Rico: [00:26:19] Wow. Okay.

Brian: [00:26:20] If it against, in other words, that it doesn’t have to be a threshold. They have that authority. I’m not saying they will, but they can’t. And then I will give you examples of that where they may one day. Yes. An apartment complex that has a crime problem. That has been, you know, there’s been some issues or whatever. They can decide, you know what, you don’t have enough street lighting, so we’re going to put street lights in there.

Rico: [00:26:47] Even though it’s internal, internal to that apartment complex.

Brian: [00:26:52] Well, as long as the city streets are public, you know, you could do it in there. If they’re private, private streets, internal to that could, but the council could put it at the entrance.

Rico: [00:27:02] Okay. But with them, because apartment complexes have their own streets and driveways.

Brian: [00:27:07] If it’s truly private. Some of them are public still. There’s a lot of neighborhoods and having, you can look at them as interior streets, but they’re really the city.

Rico: [00:27:13] Well, for sure. If the city’s going to pay them. They’re public streets.

Brian: [00:27:16] Correct. I promise you that we’re not paving streets that are not, most streets in the city are, are public. There are very few that are not in there. Very, very few that are private that are not behind a gate. Very few. There’s only a handful of apartment complexes that have a labyrinth of streets interior that are not public.

Rico: [00:27:37] And they pay for their own.

Brian: [00:27:38] And they pay their own, and most of them, maybe all of them are behind the gate. Then they’re private.

Rico: [00:27:44] But inside that gate on the public street.

Brian: [00:27:47] The city could do a number of things. It could light it up, you know, prior to that. But a good example, you know, but so the streetlight one, say there’s apartment that a city streets and the city didn’t feel like there was enough lights. He could do that and then put it on the property owner. The landlord to pay it. You know? I’m sorry, your crime rate is too high. It’s unacceptable. We think one of the things that would improve public safety is better. Lighting cause there’s been maybe, you know, problems in the parking lot at night or whatever and we’re going to do that. Or another one would be in, this could even apply to an apartment complex that has a gate. And so the interior streets are, but there’s a lot of criminal activity coming and going. The city could decide to put a camera at the entrance so that all the cars coming and going got picked up by that camera. And it could create a special service district around that
area and in that district, they can charge the property owners for that camera because it’s a Public safety.

Rico: [00:28:48] So what’s a threshold to volunteering?

Brian: [00:28:50] All right, so volunteering, that’s where council probably between now and February, make the final decision cause it’s only had the first raise, but they’re really leaning towards probably a 70% threshold. I think, you know, the 50% plus one, they kind of feel like that’s, you know, just too close. And they, most of these, they feel like, look, you ought to have a super majority for us to, for them to feel kind of like, ah, you know, this is good. And so there, there will be an option here for a community to ask the city to do something because it’s unable to do it itself. And that so they could exercise a referendum kind of component.

Rico: [00:29:45] Which is to become a special district?

Brian: [00:29:47] Right? For a particular purpose. And so there’s really three things, three services as we envision it. There could be more in the future, but really three that may be a service that results from these districts. One is the camera, video camera, license plate recognition to a streetlights, and three, your speed bumps or traffic control devices. Speedball bobs or speed humps, as the case may be are usually the one that cities don’t like to just put it in because it affects a lot of people. We tend to want to have a lot of buy in from the community, if, if to put it. So those are ones that we envision being a service that we, the city can provide either voluntarily, where a community comes to the city and says, here’s proof. You know, we did a referendum, and here’s proof that 70% of the property owners want it. Or the city could decide to do it because it’s just, there’s too much problems for whatever reason. There’s too much speeding and, but, but the local, the local residents, and we have this in a couple of places where the local residents can never get enough property owners because they’re renters and the owners live out of state and they don’t want to. So it can be one where the city council just decides, you know what, it needs it. We’re just going to do it.

Rico: [00:31:16] But the city council has to vote.

Brian: [00:31:18] Oh yeah. City council has to vote.

Rico: [00:31:18] It’s not like some regular department decides.

Brian: [00:31:22] No the city, no.

Rico: [00:31:24] Okay. So like a special use permit. Does it go through planning commission or is it straight to say?

Brian: [00:31:27] Oh no, I don’t. I think it’s straight to city council on those because, yeah, I mean, it’s really not a land use really how it operates.

Rico: [00:31:36] So the cameras are really license plate recognition, not facial recognition.

Brian: [00:31:40] Well, no, there won’t be any facial recognition on this.

Rico: [00:31:43] And like we discussed before, this is really stored for a certain period of time. No one can see it or use it unless there’s a crime or something pursuant to it.

Brian: [00:31:53] the, the way that it will work that we envision it a work is, and there’s one other way that you can end up having this happen in that is they’re considering, homeowners associations that uniquely fit a unique, qualification. And that is really, essentially, they have officers that have been elected and they own property that can receive a, that, that receives a property tax bill. Because if that, if they meet that threshold, they could request a camera. Like at the entrance to a subdivision that the HOA owns, and then the city can build that HOA through it’s property tax bill nature way. Then can take a vote and officially ask for the city to install a camera.

Rico: [00:32:47] I’m just curious because can they request the probe one near the swimming tennis, for example? Within the subdivision.

Brian: [00:32:55] If the city owns property. If you could put it in the public right of way, so it’s not a private street. And the HOA gets a property tax bill, then yes. Invariably there could be a yes, put it here. And so all that being said is you are bringing up, so the way that mayor and council are envisioning the way that I ultimately proposed is when these cameras go in. If there’s a request and all the things, the city is not going to end up having access to the data ever. It is going straight to the cloud in Gwinnett County PD. And the cloud access by gonna County PD. And the only way Gwinnett County PD access is it is if there’s a police report filed.

Rico: [00:33:56] Not even for that it recognizes a plate that may be.

Brian: [00:34:00] No, that would be automatic. I’m sorry. So yeah, you’re referring to when Gwinnett County, sometime in 2020 will have that special division that’s stood up. Our license plate recognition cameras will then communicate directly with Gwinnett PD. And if a license plate that it takes a photo of comes up hot. That there’s a warrant for that vehicle. For some reason it was reported stolen. It’s an Amber alert or really invariably, what most of them come up hot for is no insurance or expired tags. But that’ll automatically go to Gwinnett PD. And Gwinnett PD will make a case by case decision on whether the license plate coming up hot is worthy of moving assets around specific to it. But we do know, having talked to other communities who have just put this in place that, you know, with like the insurance and expired tag stuff, it was just to me, is not gonna end up in variably having anybody do anything different. But you could get like an Amber alert would be a good one. They will immediately deploy assets upstream of the direction of travel of that vehicle, at least where the direction of travel, when they got the photos.

Rico: [00:35:19] Because it’s real time, it’s getting out there.

Brian: [00:35:21] It is real time that’ll happen. But when it comes to you, even that photo, well not be accessed by anybody other than Gwinnett County PD. So a photo was taken and they may send a message, but every photo, every license plate photo is taken here and will go to the cloud. And it’ll sit there. I want to say it’s 30 days. It’s written over. So the storage is only for 30 days worth. And then day 31 starts recording over the very first day in that. But the video and the photos of the license plate are going to a PD. The city will never have access to it. And if somebody wants historical imagery or video from that, they’ve got to file a police report. And the reason to do that is just to avoid the, you know. Not to say that I wouldn’t want to do this, but, you know, say my daughter, you know, when she grew up was, you know, snuck out or whatever, and you know, you wanted to find out who, you know, came back, things like that. But it just, it’s so ripe for abuse on those kinds of things. So mayor council, and that’s his staff’s decision. It was just like, you know what? We’re not in it. It goes directly to the cloud. And it stored for that period of time before turret. And if somebody files a police report, they get through good PD access, and then Gwinnett PD can come in and they can use it to investigate. But we’re not in it.

Rico: [00:36:49] And I think the way you set it up, you know, no one can really argue too much about that as far as privacy goes, because the only access point would be if there was a crime. And that’s…

Brian: [00:36:59] Well, it’s gotta be something worthy of a current, a police report.

Rico: [00:37:02] Correct. And that’s reasonable. I don’t see anything wrong with that. You know, facial recognition in a variety of ways could be an issue at some point. But, but not that.

Brian: [00:37:11] And these do not have that. None of these have nothing capabilities of those, we’re not getting any cameras that have facial recognition.

Rico: [00:37:18] So there’s not even a capability to upgrade.

Brian: [00:37:21] Not the cameras that at the camp we’re getting. These are Georgia power. These are cameras do a Georgia power program called site view. So this isn’t like fly by night or this isn’t, this is a program they have created and they hang these cameras. And the reason they did this is because they can generate money. They hang these cameras on their light poles or trap or their utility poles. So there’s already power there, right? And we don’t buy the cameras. We actually lease the cameras monthly. And so monthly we pay it. But what we get for the monthly cost is it’s an all inclusive. We don’t have to do anything. We never had to pay up front for the camera. We don’t pay for the cloud storage. We don’t pay for the electricity. And if it breaks, we don’t pay to have it repaired.

Rico: [00:38:14] You’re just paying a leasing fee.

Brian: [00:38:16] Right. And it’s how our streetlights currently exist. And so it’s a pretty common, but so this isn’t like self love, but this is Georgia power, a public service commission, regulated utility. But no, it doesn’t do facial recognition. And I will tell you, if it did, the amount of storage that you would have to have and the amount of edge computing you would have to have for there to be. Analysis done, and a database to pull facial imagery to enter the store is, is not even.

Rico: [00:38:52] It’s different from being able to use an assistant like that to count bodies.

Brian: [00:38:57] That’s correct. So it’s not, we have that capability at the town green. They just count. All it can do is differentiate between a human and a vehicle. So it’s counting people. That’s why when you know, I say there’s a, there’s any, and even then there’s a little bit, because it doesn’t know enough to not count you twice over really, right. I mean, but on a concert, we can kind of take snapshots of how many are there at a time.

Rico: [00:39:23] Non moving. Okay.

Brian: [00:39:25] So the, we can kind of get a pretty good idea of how many people in there, but if we had it like say at the, I don’t know, a door of a restaurant or the restrooms or whatever. You know, if you’re in and out, in and out, it would count you all the time. So you have to still, but no, we don’t have, again, it takes a lot of, takes a lot of juice. To make that to where it’s really working cause you got to be pulling from a database because to recognize your face, it has to have your face somewhere. Then it’s got to have the ability to take a photo and then pull distinct marks like a fingerprint, and then it’s got to be constantly scrubbing the face image that you just came on there against, God only knows how many images out there and oh by the way, it’s taking photos, all these new ones doing it. It’s just that a lot, it’s out there. The technology is out there. But we don’t have anything close to that, at all.

Rico: [00:40:22] Okay, cool. Let’s, let’s move on a little bit to, cause we’re getting towards our time a little bit, but I want to touch on a few other things. The redevelopment authority, you’re doing a plan for that, right? But you said would take about 12 weeks, you’d think three months we have to pull it together.

Brian: [00:40:40] So the State statute that allows cities to create redevelopment authorities, has some requirements in it. And mayor and council have made the decision that we’re going to create a redevelopment authority. I’m going to start concentrating on some of the redevelopment needs and opportunities in the city. You know, by redevelopment. It’s really, you know, taking a parcel that has been developed in one way, shape, or form at one point in time, we don’t have a lot of vacant stuff, so most of it’s still operating, but sometimes it’s just not quite as great of a use as we would like or whatever. And so redevelopment opportunities and redevelopment authorities have certain tools at their disposal that the city government itself
does not. Very similar to ride downtown development authority, which we have and has own property, has entered into an agreement, has incurred debt, and so it has a lot of the same powers. Although you know most of this stuff as anything in life goes, you know, the oil that makes activity work as money. You know, so these authorities need money. It’s usually the city having to appropriate money to them, but the redevelopment authority does have certain tools like access to grants that the city doesn’t have. It does it directly, and it can, it can negotiate a sole source without having to bid it out in something. By law having to go to the low bidder. Sometimes a little bidder is not the best one.

Rico: [00:42:18] For sure though.

Brian: [00:42:19] But the city doesn’t have a choice. They do. But anyway, this state statute laying out all of the requirements for redevelopment authority exists require that there be a redevelopment plan that is in place before you create the redevelopment authority, because redevelopment authority will be created to execute the redevelopment plan. And maybe amend it, but that’s the original plan is and so we have to start with doing a redevelopment plan. So council is, you know, we set the wheels in motion. We have, we interviewed firms and we selected a firm and they’re going to start on the redevelopment plan. Given the history of us collecting and organizing, compiling data in certain things that are necessary for a redevelopment plan. We’re actually a lot farther along than we thought, so it’ll only be about 12 weeks or a full blown one to be done, including some public meetings. That will be advertising to come in and hear about, you know, where the plan is, and you know, the plan will have everything from areas that should be part of the redevelopment effort. It doesn’t have to be, it probably doesn’t. It probably won’t be all of the city. It’ll be targeted areas for targeted reasons, and so there’ll be some public opportunities for people to weigh in. And I’m at a certain point, council will approve that plan and then turn around and immediately start populating the redevelopment authority and get it populated, and then they’ll adopt their bylaws and a way they go.

Rico: [00:44:03] Right. A lot going on there. So I wanna also hit on a few things quickly because we don’t have that much time but I want to be able to sort of get an update, let’s say. Pedestrian bridge. I see the pillars going up. How far along are we really?

Brian: [00:44:18] I mean, you know, we have issued the order to start fabricating the span, which is being done off site. And of course you see the two, you know, ends going up. A lot of concrete, you know, and it’s intricate cause there are elevator shafts in there. But that’s being formed and poured. We’re still hoping to have the span dropped on site sometime maybe in May and dropped on site. So they’ll have the span, but then we’ve got to start attaching the sides because you know, it can’t be just like a, a little railing. This is over a very heavily traveled roadway. Georgia DOT has to permit this whole thing. Because it not only is over their roadway, but the two towers are in their right of way. So it has to be permitted by them. And so they’ve got to inspect this to certain points. And so the span will come out. We’ve got attach sides that are, have small enough openings that you can’t throw things out into traffic.

Rico: [00:45:33] Right. And then assignments to essentials.

Brian: [00:45:35] Well, there’ll be, there’ll be letters spelling out Peachtree Corners right. But, and then you’ve got to pour the floor cause it’s steel fabric, and then they’ll set it in place. Everything. So, I mean, you’re still, you know, sometime in the summer we, it should be done, but it’s moving along. You know, well, I mean, of course, you know, it’s got to get State approval at various places. So, and weather’s always a factor in everything, and it’s a little bit slower because we’re not wanting to close lanes to do any of this. So, you know, there are certain things that it would move faster if you could, but we’re not going to. So anyway, but you know, some or some time this summer is not bad.

Rico: [00:46:22] All right. And what about, we were talking about the Indigo hotel, possibly the apartment complex there, the 12 town center. Is that moving along any, any more than what we discussed last time?

Brian: [00:46:35] I mean, the owner and the ownership group raised over $23 million, something like that for the effort. That’s official fact. They’re already starting to issue quarterly reports to all of the investors. So they’re holding their money that much. I do know. So if they weren’t serious, I don’t know why they would go out and raise that much money only to have to give it back.

Rico: [00:46:59] So the $23 million will actually fund both those buildings, the whole thing.

Brian: [00:47:05] And so I, yeah. It looks like it’s moving. I mean, you know, they haven’t submitted for any permits or anything yet, but then there’s, you know, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that go on some of these things.

Rico: [00:47:17] The old Fiserv property, I understand earth is moving or things are being done there?

Brian: [00:47:22] Demolition of existing buildings is, is happening. It is moving forward, phase one at least.

Rico: [00:47:31] All right. And then, I hear this, the Peachtree Corners festival is going to be at town center this year?

Brian: [00:47:37] It is.

Rico: [00:47:38] And there’s plenty of space. Good, good, good. Is it going to be, are we going to be closing off the street? I guess Peachtree Corners circle?

Brian: [00:47:50] Yeah. So it looks like for it to be, for it to have enough property, we’re going to have to bring into play the section of Peachtree Corners Circle in between Medlocke and
Peachtree Parkway. And close off some of it. There’s the, you know, I don’t know if it will be for Medlocke, just to the entrance to DaVinci court. Probably that’s probably what it will be done then DaVinci court’s parking lots might come into play, but you know, like the car show and the vendors setting up, you gotta have a lot of space. And then we use the town green as the concert space. And so I think the link between the two will be, well, I think it’ll be good. You know, and I know the businesses want it.

Rico: [00:48:44] Oh, I’m, I’m sure. I mean, you know, the businesses are, you know what I’m seeing more you know, everyone’s doing their bit to gather more business. You know, it’s just the zone. You can’t even hire enough people it seems with some of the businesses, especially the restaurants it seems to be that there’s just not enough people to hire to do the work.

Brian: [00:49:08] Well, I mean, that’s a whole different, you know, it’s a whole different conversation about workforce housing. You know, communities love having lots of service related, you know, amenities, restaurants. Good stores, you know, boutique stores, entertainment, but they have to have people working in them that are in the service sector. And service sector doesn’t necessarily make a lot of money. And so sometimes it’s hard if you’re in that, you know, if you’re like working in a restaurant in an affluent area. You can’t live close to that because you can’t afford to.

Rico: [00:49:47] So is the city looking at solutions for that?

Brian: [00:49:49] Well, I mean, yes, we’re always looking to have as diverse of a housing stock as we can. Just like we want a diverse local economy. The trick there is to find the right locations for all of that stuff. And so, but, but we are, but yeah, I mean, the other thing though is we’re kind of in that unique point in time, we just added a bunch of new stuff, which means the, what existed prior to that is kind of sharing. Then you’ve got this extra, this extra, you know. Fight for finite resources. And we’re not in that final stage of all of the local rooftops. You’ve got 75ish townhomes that still have to be built. They’re starting. You can see some of them coming out, but you know, that’s, that’s people that are right there. And then you’ve got 250ish shower, many units that were in the pedestal. Apartment complex on the Robert’s property. They haven’t started yet, so that’s a lot of rooftops. We’re calling residential units that are right there in town center. That’ll help. And then we also haven’t connected the form and town center yet. So right now I felt that there had been times where I may have walked to the other side for something, but because I can’t easily, I just got by, I said, screw it. I’m not gonna do that right now. Whereas if you could’ve just walked across, that probably would have. So linking it all together. So we’re hoping to just get through this transitionary period and everything is relatively, you know, the same. And then at that point, I think we’ll have a good base for customers.

Rico: [00:51:40] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. When there’s, especially these shorts bridge road, the old Fiserv property, more, more stuff going on there. This has been Prime Lunchtime with City Manager, Brian Johnson. I appreciate the time you’ve given us.

Brian: [00:51:52] Thanks for having me.

Rico: [00:51:53] We’ve been at the Atlanta Tech Park here in the city of Peachtree Corners doing this podcast, talking about all sorts of things from mobility to development and retail and business. I want to say thank you again to our friends at Hargray Fiber. Who has been, not only is a lead sponsor of this podcast and the family of podcasts, but also a big part of Curiosity lab and Peachtree Corners. So thank you for that. And you can find more information about Hargray at HargrayFiber.com so appreciate it. Thanks everyone. Take care.

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City Government

City Receives ARC Green Communities Certification

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Pictured: Doug Hooker, ARC's executive director, Peachtree Corners' Economic Development Manager, Jennifer Howard, Mayor Mike Mason, ARC's Sustainability Coordinator Kelsey Waidhas and Kerry Armstrong, ARC's chairman of the board.

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) announced that the city of Peachtree Corners and three other metro Atlanta cities (Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Woodstock), have been certified through the agency’s Green Communities Program.

The program recognizes these cities’ efforts in demonstrating leadership in sustainability practices. Developed in 2009, the ARC Green Communities Program recognizes local governments that invest in programs and policies that lead to a more sustainable region.

Peachtree Corners was recertified at the Bronze level for providing single-stream curbside recycling to all residents and hosting an annual electronic waste disposal event for residents to safely and properly dispose of electronic appliances and devices. All winners earned certification points for sustainable measures implemented in their communities.

“Protecting our environment and recycling responsibly have always been of paramount importance to our city,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “I am very proud that Peachtree Corners has once again been certified by the ARC.”

The nationally-recognized program showcases the many ways that local governments can reduce their environmental footprint. In metro Atlanta, 20 local governments – 13 cities and seven counties – are currently certified under ARC’s Green Communities Program. This is the first program in the country to promote sustainability through a green certification program for local governments.

“These local governments are to be commended for demonstrating an ongoing commitment to conserving energy and protecting our natural resources,” said Kerry Armstrong, ARC board chairman. “Their efforts set a positive example for other communities while fostering a sense of regional pride.”

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City Government

Councilmember Sadd Schedules Town Hall Meeting for January 21

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Phil Sadd

Post 1 Councilmember Phil Sadd is hosting a town hall meeting on Tuesday, January 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Winters Chapel United Methodist Church, 5105 Winters Chapel Road.

Issues to be discussed include:

  • Spalding Drive Widening and Holcomb Bridge intersection improvements
  • Crime Prevention Initiatives
  • Town Center Upcoming Projects
  • Curiosity Lab Autonomous Vehicle Test Track
  • Re-development Efforts

“If you’ve ever driven on Spalding Drive between Winters Chapel Road and Holcomb Bridge Road during rush hour, you’ve probably experienced significant delays and extended wait times, said Councilmember Sadd. “At the town hall meeting, we will provide an overview of the Spalding Drive project and explain how it will help improve traffic flow and increase pedestrian safety.

“This project will bring incredible improvements to our city, and we want to provide our citizens with an opportunity to understand the plans and ask questions.  In addition, we will provide updates on other key activities taking place throughout our city.” 

The Peachtree Corners mayor and council members, as well as other elected officials with common jurisdiction, will be in attendance to inform citizens of key matters impacting the community.  The town hall meeting will include an open Q&A session, giving citizens an opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions of their local representatives.

The town hall meeting will be held in Peachtree Corners District 1, and is open to all citizens.

Source City of Peachtree Corners

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