Cobb Planning Commission recommends approval of rezoning for 240 apartment units in Bells Ferry area

screenshot of Cobb Planning Commission meetingscreenshot of Cobb Planning Commission meeting

At its September zoning hearing last Tuesday, the Cobb County Planning Commission recommended that the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approve a request to rezone 19.878 acres located at the end of Roberts Court, west of I-575, east of I-75.

The land is in a triangle formed by the two highways, and is undeveloped, with no addresses assigned.

The rezoning request would allow the applicant to build a 240-unit apartment complex.

The apartments would not be allowed under the current zoning category of GC, and the request is for RRC zoning, a mixed-use category that would allow multi-family. The zoning documents describe RRC as follows:

The RRC district is established to provide locations for intense retail commercial, office or mixed uses which exceed 500,000 net square feet and which are designed and oriented to serve a regional market making up a community.

The applicant is Quintus Development L.P., represented at the hearing by attorney Garvis Sams.

The proposed development is opposed by the Bells Ferry Civic Association and the Cobb County School District.

In opening the applicant’s argument for approval, Sams said, “This is an application that was heard and held by you last month.”

“I think and I don’t want to mischaracterize this or put words in the District Commissioner Dance’s mouth but I think that the primary motivating factor for doing this is was to allow our final traffic impact study which was submitted on July the 29th,” he said.

Sams mentioned that the traffic circulation in the vicinity of the project is not nearly as good as that in the Cumberland CID area, but that a roadway and bridge were in the works that would improve traffic flow.

He said Quintus would hold off on vertical development until the traffic relief projects are complete, and that the projected time frame for this project is about two years.

Sams asked that the Planning Commission follow the staff recommendations and approve the project.

Joanne Trivett spoke in opposition to the project on behalf of the Bells Ferry Civic Association.

“We have several concerns regarding this development, including a variance request, traffic congestion, sound mitigation issues, and not enough access roads and schools capacity,” she said.

“Of major concern is the fire department access, which was neither addressed by the fire department nor the PC at the last meeting,” she said. “Why is this requirement being ignored?”

“Two access roads are required for apartments with over 200 dwelling units,” she said.

Trivett also stated concerns over the mitigation of noise from nearby Cobb County International Airport – McCollum Field, and over the possibility of children from the apartments walking onto the two nearby interstate highways.

Travis McComb objected to the project on behalf of the Cobb County School District. He said the new apartments would put stress on an already overcrowded local school

The property is in District 3, so the hearing was turned over to Deborah Dance, who represents the district on the Planning Commission.

She called Amy Diaz of the Cobb DOT forward. Diaz said that traffic circulation was a problem in the area, but that the 240 units were not likely to increase the problem substantially.

There was a discussion of configuration of the roads to access the complex, more discussion of the effects of the apartments on school capacity, and of the desire on the part of planning commission members to preserve as many trees as possible.

Then Dance made the motion.

“Okay, at this time, I would make a motion to approve the application subject to a determination of the feasibility of projects to address the dual access requirement as represented here today that can be ascertained prior to the Board of Commissioners meeting. Subject to specify sound attenuation requirements, as discussed here today inclusive of determination of how many trees might be saved. With respect to this project, the representations that those matters can be easily ascertained, subject to all staff comments and recommendations. Subject to all stipulations contained in the July 21 2021 letter of stipulations. Inclusive of this discussion about an FAA airspace study, which I noticed is represented in the stipulation letter.”

With that the motion passed 5-0 to recommend approval of the rezoning.

Asked by the Courier to comment on the Planning Commission’s recommendation, Tullan Avard, board member of Bells Ferry Civic Association wrote in an email:

In Garvis Sam’s presentation he never explained where the second access road would be, wasn’t forthcoming on keeping the existing trees as a buffer, made no mention if a structure would be installed to keep children and pets off of the highways, and was vague as to what superior sound mitigation measures would be used to lessen the highway and plane noise pollution.

The Board of Commissioners zoning hearing is scheduled for September 21. The BOC makes the county’s final decision on zoning matters.