The Cobb County Planning Commission recommended denial of an application to rezone 62.5 acres of land on Chastain Road from its current mix of several zoning categories, to PVC (Planned Village Community).
The developer Pope and Land Enterprises is the applicant. They were represented at the hearing by attorney Kevin Moore. The applicant proposes a mixed-use development on the site.
The property is located on the southwest corner of Chastain Road and Chastain Meadows Parkway, east of the ramp from I-575. Currently the property is under a patchwork of different zoning categories, including single-family residential, general commercial, office and institutional and neighborhood shopping.
The case number is Z-71-2018 and you can view the documents for the application at this link.
Presentation for the applicant
Attorney Kevin Moore argued for approval of the rezoning.
He said, “What Pope and Land is proposing is a high-quality class A mixed-use development based on a proven successful track record that Pope and Land has, as well as a proven successful track record of other mixed-use developments that were put together and structured in exactly the same type of way. “
“It is not simply office and retail, it’s not simply department stores and office buildings, which we have now seen do not work in today’s environment any more,” said Moore.
“The sticks and bricks of retail department stores, you don’t see those being built today, because they’re not going to be built today in today’s environment and the future environment, as well as large commercial power centers like we used to see,” he said. “Those aren’t built any more. And they’re not going to be built anymore. And that’s okay. We’ve learned to expand on that.”
“But what is being built, what is being constructed, to high acclaim, to great success, are true mixed-use developments where you integrate residential, multi-family, senior, retail and office into one integrated development,” he said.
“And this one also includes townhomes as well that would be fee-simple townhomes … It includes all of those components which are each very important to the overall success,” Moore said.
He said without multi-family and apartment components, the development would not have what it takes to be true mixed-use, and to be successful.
Moore said that the plan includes an extension of the Noonday Creek Trail into the development that will connect with a park for residents and for customers of the businesses.
He described the components of the multi-use development including a hotel at the I-575 interchange, retail, multi-family units, and apartments.
Moore listed a number of metro area mixed-use developments, and said, “Over and over again we see these actual suburban locations that have (been) accepted and approved and succeeded based on this same type of mixed-use development that is successful, and it is what people want to see and have happen in their communities.”
“It provides for vibrant, sustainable property values, sustainable business initiatives, all of those come together only when you have the mixes done in a high quality manner like Pope and Land can do.” he said.
Community opposition to the project
Erin Mulgrew of the Bells Ferry Civic Association asked that the applicant’s request to change the zoning to PVC be denied.
“Since this is a continued case, we would like to state for the record that at the (Planning Commission) meeting on September 3 we had 45 people here in opposition,” she said.
“We also submitted a petition against this mega-development with over 1100 area resident signatures,” said Mulgrew. “This position still stands because the density remains incredibly high at 10.5 units per acre, double the maximum allowable units.”
“The developer is asking for more commercial square footage than exists at Cumberland Mall,” she said.
She also said that the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s recommendation requires widening of Bells Ferry Road to accommodate the extra traffic the development would bring, and that the expense would burden Cobb County taxpayers.
Mulgrew said that the apartments might cause a decline in property values and “a decline in desirability for families.”
Linda Bowman, from Chastain Lakes and Brookhaven of East Cobb (which she described as a 55+ community), said that the major concern of her communities are safety, traffic and decreased property values.
“We have a number of fixed-income residents in our homes and are concerned about the negative impacts Z-71 will have on our property values,” she said.
Bowman listed a number of traffic accidents on Bells Ferry Road, Chastain Meadows Parkway and Chastain Road, and said the increased traffic would cause existing residents to leave, and make selling existing homes difficult.
The Planning Commission’s decision
Chair Judy Williams, who is the planning commissioner for the area of the property, said, “This is not about Pope and Land as a developer and it’s not about the attorney. It’s more about the project. It’s more about the intensity of the project … We have no money to put a lane in Bells Ferry Road. I’m going to make a motion that we deny this request.”
After comments from other commissioners the recommendation to deny the request passed 4-0. Commissioner Andy Smith had recused himself from the decision at the beginning of the hearing.
The final decision is scheduled for the November 19 Cobb County Board of Commissioners zoning meeting.