Recommendation on rezoning Wigley property on Cobb/Cherokee line postponed until July planning commission meeting

Andrew Desmond speaks as Tony Lacey, Garth Bauknecht, and David Evans await their turn (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The Cobb County Planning Commission, in its May 1 hearing, voted to postpone a recommendation on the rezoning of a hilly property on the border of Cobb and Cherokee counties until their July hearing. The applicant, Oak Hall Companies, LLC, requested a change in zoning from R-30 to R-20 OSC, which would allow them to build 92 houses on the 96-acre property. The land, located at the east and west sides of Wigley Road, was part of the estate of  Audrey Wigley. It is in Cobb County Commission District 3 and is zoning case Z-56.

>> To read the documents on Z-56 follow this link

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Parks Huff, representing the developer, said, “Obviously [the Wigley family] has been here for awhile when you’ve got a road named after you.  So it’s been in the family for along time, and now the estate needs to sell it.” He said the reason the case had been pending for so long is that Oak Hall Companies decided they needed to acquire other surrounding properties in order to develop the Wigley property. He said the plan would add less than one unit per acre, which would make it compliant with the county’s plan for the area.

“You can see here how using the Open Space Community layout achieves the goal of limiting grade, and keeping open space in a nice fashion. Ninety-two homes on 96 acres is very reasonable.  The development is consistent with the land-use plan, and we ask that you recommend approval of this OSC, recognizing that OSC is the best way to develop this property.”

Several neighbors of the property spoke in opposition to the rezoning.

Andrew Desmond said, “I’m here today as owner of adjoining property to address concerns with the proposed development.” He said he was the owner of several properties built in the 1960s and 70s. “We are completely landlocked. Our only access to our property is across a very narrow and very steep easement that was developed in 1961.  We would like to redevelop our tract to access county sewer and county water.  Under the current plan, the road would end just before reaching our property line, leaving us completely land-locked.  We have approached the developer, we have approached county staff … these are very real concerns. At this elevation, lightning strikes are not only frequent, we had one last year.  At our elevation, there are also high winds.  It’s a real risk and we really need emergency services.”

He said the simplest solution was to extend the road into the development to avoid landlocking his property.

Garth Bauknecht said, “I’m here as a representative of the neighborhood to essentially highlight our concerns about this development.  There are many concerns that we have: impact on schools … impact on county services,  One of the major concerns we have is the traffic study that was prepared for this zoning change.  It shows that in addition to these 92 homes it’s going to increase the car traffic rate on Wigley Road from a current daily car trip rate of 40, to over 1,000.”  He said the study also showed an increase in the wait time while turning from Wigley Road onto an adjoining road out of the neighborhood from 10-15 seconds to over a minute.   He said the zoning for the property should remain R-30.

David Evans said his concern was that the development would interfere with the flow of stormwater from the property, either overwhelming the earthen dams at existing ponds or by stopping the flow of water to those ponds, “So the stormwater is a huge concern coming off that property onto our property.”

Tony Lacey said that the elevations seemed to indicate houses on level ground which was inconsistent with the hilly topography.  He also said, “”The plans that they show, the elevations, are side-entry garages, and at 15-20 feet apart, I don’t see how you have side-entry garages. So I feel like those elevations aren’t proper for what will be put there, especially if there’s 15 feet between the homes.”

The commission voted to delay making a recommendation until their July meeting.

The Cobb County zoning ordinance describes the existing zoning, R-30, as follows:

 R-30 (single-family residential, 30,000-square-foot lot size). The R-30 district is established to provide locations for single-family residential uses or residentially compatible institutional and recreational uses which are within or on the edge of properties delineated for any residential category as defined and shown on the Cobb County Comprehensive Plan: A Policy Guide, adopted November 27, 1990. When residentially compatible institutional and recreational uses are developed within the R-30 district, they should be designed and built to ensure intensity and density compatibility with adjacent single-family detached dwellings and otherwise to implement the stated purpose and intent of this chapter. Acreage within floodplains or wetlands shall be excluded when calculating the overall density of the development.

The requested zoning, R-20, is described as follows:

R-20 (single-family residential, 20,000-square-foot lot size). The R-20 district is established to provide locations for single-family residential uses or residentially compatible institutional and recreational uses which are within or on the edge of properties delineated for any residential category as defined and shown on the Cobb County Comprehensive Plan: A Policy Guide, adopted November 27, 1990. When residentially compatible institutional and recreational uses are developed within the R-20 district, they should be designed and built to ensure intensity and density compatibility with adjacent single-family detached dwellings and otherwise to implement the stated purpose and intent of this chapter. Acreage within floodplains or wetlands shall be excluded when calculating the overall density of the development.

OSC is outlined in Cobb’s ordinances as follows:

OSC (Open space community overlay). The OSC overlay district is established to encourage the preservation of natural resources within residential development. The overlay district may be overlaid upon the R-80, R-40, R-30, R-20, and R-15 zoning districts. Land and water are protected by limiting land disturbance and decreasing the percentage of impervious surface within the planned community, and by adding flexibility to site plan design. Open space design is intended to result in more efficient use of land, lower development infrastructure costs, and the conservation of land for recreation or aesthetic and environmental enrichment. It is not the intent of this overlay district to increase overall development densities, but to allow for the stipulated densities of the underlying zoning district. However, there is an opportunity to earn an additional ten percent density, not to exceed the recommended densities of the Cobb County Future Land Use Map. It is also the intent of the overlay district to encourage design flexibility and development that is complementary to surrounding existing neighborhoods. Open space community (OSC) plans are approved as site plan specific.

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Larry Felton Johnson
Larry Felton Johnson is the editor and publisher of the Cobb County Courier. He holds a degree in journalism from Georgia State University and enjoys exploring the county's trail and greenway network when he isn't covering county government meetings and court proceedings.

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