Cobb BOC approves controversial west Cobb homes in 3-2 vote

Cobb County Board of Commissioners in sessionCobb County Board of Commissioners -- photo by Larry Felton Johnson

Commissioners narrowly approved a new development of 42 homes in west Cobb, despite opposition from neighboring residents.

At its zoning hearing on Tuesday, June 20, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners listened to testimony from both sides of the issue and voted 3-2 to approve the rezoning request from Kerley Family Homes, which plans to build a subdivision of homes ranging from $500,000 to $600,000. The neighborhood will be developed on 34.2 acres of land, and lot sizes will range from about 14,000 to 22,000 square feet, according to Kerley Family Homes representative Kevin Moore. It will be located off Acworth Due West Road, north of Stilesboro Road.

The company had originally asked to build 54 homes, but the Cobb County Planning Commission expressed concerns about density in the area. To ensure fewer houses would be built on the development, the individual lot sizes were increased. The planning commission recommended approval of the project at its June 6 meeting once these concerns were addressed.

Commissioner Bob Ott and Chairman Mike Boyce both voted against the proposal. Much of the debate and discussion involved the definition and parameters of an Open Space Community, or OSC, which is the type of zoning that Kerley Family Homes requested. An OSC gives a developer leniency with regard to lot sizes in exchange for more green space on the property. For this proposal, Kerley Family Homes is required to allot 35 percent of the land to green space.

Boyce said in an interview that he voted against the proposal because he felt like it stretched the limits of an OSC.

“They allow you to have a smaller lot, because you get credit for the green space,” Boyce said.

But, in his opinion, Kerley Family Homes was building houses that were much smaller than would typically be allowed.

“I think it’s a very clever use of the zoning to address a business purpose,” Boyce said.

Commissioner Ott explained that he disliked the idea of using the trees of an adjacent neighborhood as a buffer for this project.

“I mean that’s just ridiculous. It is never the intent of an OSC to use someone else’s trees to buffer a new development that’s coming in,” Ott said. “Right now, there’s no way I can support this because to me, this is almost a poster child of what’s wrong with OSC right now.”

In addition to the argument of the chairman and the commissioner, eight residents attended in opposition to the project. Millstone at Walnut Creek is a subdivision north of the planned development, and Patricia Snider is the president of the homeowners association. She has lived in the area since 2004 and attended the zoning meeting in opposition to the proposal because of concerns about flooding.

“The creeks and streams run into our subdivision,” Snider said. “So we’re concerned about additional flooding in the area by disturbing the creeks.”

Snider did confirm that Commissioner Weatherford addressed these concerns in a meeting with neighboring residents, and some of the stipulations on the approval of the project would help prevent additional flooding. Still, Snider said her community will continue to track this project until its completion.

“Absolutely, we’ll watch how it gets built,” she said.

Despite the approval of this project, the vague language of the OSC is still a concern for the Board of Commissioners. Residents can attend the first of several public hearings to address questions about OSCs at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27. The meeting will be held at 100 Cherokee Street NE in Marietta.