A concrete crushing operation operating illegally, according to Cobb’s Zoning Department, on property owned by Tippins Family Properties, LLC. was the subject of a contentious exchange at the Cobb County Board of Commissioners zoning hearing Tuesday.
Tippins Family Properties is owned by the family of Georgia state Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-District 37).
The crushing operation is on land zoned Heavy Industrial (HI) but according to the manager of the zoning department requires a Special Land Use Permit in order to reduce concrete, an activity they have been carrying on in violation of county code. The operation is run by Baldwin Paving, and the zoning case is SLUP-16-2019.
The property is located on Sanders Road south of Flint Hill Road.
Baldwin Paving’s representative was not present when the hearing began, and in an unusual move Tippins addressed the board himself, requesting a postponement until February.
The Board of Commissioners voted 4-1, against the wishes of District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid to grant a request by Ryan Teague, the owner of Baldwin Paving to withdraw the application without prejudice. This means that the company can refile the request at any time.
Before Teague arrived, Tippins came to the podium and requested that the case be continued until February’s hearing, a request Baldwin Paving had made in a letter to Cupid after the deadline for such a request had passed.
“My family is the landowner,” Tippins said. “We are not the applicant in the case. Baldwin Paving is the applicant. I thought they were going to send their attorney this morning.”
He said, “They had asked for additional time. I think there were some representations made in the Planning Commission that were not factually accurate. And they had asked for some time to meet with the neighborhood and those surrounding and anybody that may have concerns about the case and they had asked that the case be continued until February to be able to accomplish that.”
“We would appreciate that extension,” Tippins said.
District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid opposed the postponement.
“I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Tippins yesterday, and I am not able to oblige this request. This application has been submitted since August. I have not received any correspondence from Baldwin Paving other than this letter asking for a continuance.”
“In speaking with Sen. Tippins who is the landowner and not the applicant,” Cupid said, “I do not see there being any mediation interest on the applicant’s side or the community’s side for us to hold this case beyond today. So I appreciate them at least taking time to ask. But it’s entirely late to be asking for a request on a matter like this and of this seriousness.”
“For Baldwin to send a letter in, and not to have someone here who is present, sends a very poor signal about their level of responsibility taken for this case, and again I’m not willing to oblige this request today,” she said.
District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott said, “Obviously we don’t have a motion in front of us but I just have a really hard time not supporting anyone whether it’s on either side when a continuance or more time is asked for. So I know we’re going to hear the case, but I have concerns about not granting someone an extension when they ask for it.”
Cupid said she was willing to discuss holding the case after it was heard during the current hearing.
“But we will hear this case,” she said.
When a count was requested of all those in the audience opposed. thirteen people from the neighborhood adjacent to the crushing operation stood up..
By the time the agenda item of the request was reached, Ryan Teague, owner of Baldwin Paving arrived at the hearing.
He stood before the commissioners and said he wanted to withdraw the case without prejudice.
Cupid said, “I appreciate you coming here today and making that request. This is a significant operation that is going on here.”
She asked if Baldwin would shut down operations since they were not operating in compliance with the code.
Teague said, “We would be more than happy to discuss it, but at this point, as far as the application, we just want to withdraw. What we’re doing today is permitted use, it’s been longstanding. We’re happy to talk it through, but as far as today I just want to withdraw the application.”
Ott said, “I think what you’re seeing is exactly what happens when someone asks for extra time and doesn’t get it. They’re forced into a corner because it was pretty obvious that this was moving in a direction of denial. And so to protect their rights the applicant is asking for withdrawal. I’m not surprised in the least and I support letting them use the property and do the withdrawal.”
Ott made a motion to allow the case to be withdrawn without prejudice. Birrell seconded the motion.
Boyce said, “I’m not quite sure what we’d accomplish by hearing the case.”
He said the company was operating within the terms of it’s zoning category.
Cupid said they were not, and John Pederson, Cobb’s Zoning Division manager agreed with Cupid.
“This is not a permitted use without a Special Land Use Permit. They’ve been operating here since 2014 under a grading permit that Zoning never signed off on,” said Pederson.
Boyce said that was a code enforcement issue, and could be taken to court by them.
“This is why they (the neighbors) are here today,” Cupid said. “If you could allow this to be heard, all of this will be made clear. If you do not hear it you will not understand.”
Cupid said to Ott, “I think this is very bold of you to make this motion anyway, commissioner. You have residents here who are being denied an opportunity to speak to the merits of their concerns they they have been dealing with.”
Boyce called the question and it passed 4-1.
After the meeting the Courier spoke with Cupid and a resident who showed up to oppose the granting of the Special Land Use Permit for concrete crushing.
Cupid said, “I feel very bad in how the motion occurred, because a withdrawal without prejudice allows an applicant to come before the board at any time and and make that same request.”
“Right now they’re currently in violation of code. Code enforcement violations can linger for years,” she said.
“Because we are limited in code for what we can do, at the very least, that community deserves to have the board hear the merits of the matter,” said Cupid.
“The interest to have this even continued and held showed either a lack of knowledge, or a lack of concern of the impact that this crusher-running entity has on immediately adjacent single-family residential property owners,” she said.
“We spent more time deliberating commercial next to an interstate, than we have deliberating a crusher operation next to single-family homes,” she said.
“At the very least the board could have heard them, and been sensitive as we had a very lengthy discussion just to clarify stipulations. They deserve an opportunity to speak,” said Cupid.
“And so I’m very disheartened by what happened today,” she said.
“But hope is never fully lost. There was a comment made by the board about legal action, which this board has not taken on code enforcement matters to file an injunction or cease-and-desist. But (Boyce) armed the community with actions that they can take.”
“Another matter I want to clarify. If given and opportunity to speak, I would have acknowledged Baldwin Paving as a fellow citizen of Cobb County,” said Cupid.
“Yes, there are conflicting issues (but) Baldwin Paving did our Floyd Road project to widen it, which has improved access and throughput on Floyd Road,” she said.
“The way that the commissioner allowed the case to move forward, did not give me the opportunity to show that there’s somewhat of a bridge of acknowledgement of them being here in Cobb. They hijacked it. As if this was in their district. And I’m very disheartened by that,” said Cupid.
Anita Payne, one of the neighbors adjacent to the crushing operation, spoke with the Courier in the hallway after the hearing.
“I think the decision is unfair,” Payne said. “We think the decision is unfair because it did not give us the opportunity to explain our issues.
“As it stands, the only thing we can do now is take the matter to court. So we didn’t get the due process at this level that should have been afforded to us,” she said.
She said the land disturbance starts at sun-up, with dust and noise.