Kennesaw adopts coronavirus policies; postpones controversial zoning matter

Kennesaw City Hall in article about changes to Kennesaw's waste pickupKennesaw government complex (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Kennesaw City Council passed several policies Monday aimed at combating the coronavirus, during a meeting that was streamed on Facebook due to advisories to practice social distancing.

Council approved a partnership between the Kennesaw and Acworth police departments. The memorandum of understanding between the two cities establishes that should either departments’ staffing levels decrease due to COVID-19, officers in both cities will be “granted inter-jurisdictional authority, and will have all rights and responsibilities of each agency,” meaning each department will be able to respond to calls in the neighboring jurisdiction.

Council also approved an emergency operations policy that defines a closure notification process, designates essential and non-essential personnel, and ensures employees are compensated during the closure.

“There is substantial benefit to the city to continue paying those employees who are ready, willing and able to work, but for whom work is not available during this time of national emergency,” said city manager Jeff Drobney. He added that keeping them on call will prevent loss of employees and the costs of recruiting new staff when things “return to normal.”.

Additionally, the council approved a public health emergency policy, which dictates how city employees should handle illness during a pandemic and a teleworking policy for eligible city workers.

Concerns over the coronavirus also led to the postponement of a rezoning request for purpose-built student housing at 1465 Shiloh Rd.

Fountain Residential Partners, LLC has requested the 4.4 acres be rezoned from single-family R-30 to multi-family RM-12.

In response to the large number of emails and phone calls the city has received from residents who are concerned about the development, Zoning Administrator Darryl Simmons recommended the public hearing be postponed until May 18. Council approved his request 4-0 with Councilwoman Tracey Viars, a real estate advisor, recusing herself for personal involvement.

The developer had also requested variances to allow an increase from 12 units per acre to 15.55 units per acre, and to reduce the front yard setback along Shiloh Road from 40 feet to 30 feet. According to Simmons, the applicant submitted a revised site plan stating that they will abide by RM-12 zoning standards and will no longer ask for those variances, which were denied by the planning commission at its March 4 meeting.

Due to the unusual circumstances preventing people from attending the meeting, Simmons read a list of names of citizens who have contacted the city about the request and shared some of the common concerns cited. The messages frequently mentioned increased traffic, trash, crime, and the effect a development of this size would have on their homes and quality of life.

The city of Kennesaw has been announcing closings and cancellations since last week, including non-essential meetings, playground structures, Ben Robertson Community Center, the Southern Museum, Smith-Gilbert Gardens and City Hall.

Check here for updates https://www.kennesaw-ga.gov/covid-19/ and the City of Kennesaw Government Facebook page.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.

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