Planning Commission recommends approval of rezoning for commercial development on Mableton Parkway

screenshot of Cobb Planning Commission meetingscreenshot of Cobb Planning Commission meeting

At its September zoning hearing Tuesday, the Cobb County Planning Commission recommended that the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approve, with a list of stipulations, a request that will allow the applicant “to reuse an existing 8,000 square foot building for Commercial Retail on a 2.331 acre site,” on Mableton Parkway.d

[Correction: Robin Meyer of the Mableton Improvement Coalition informed us that the figure of 8,000 square feet was an error in the zoning documents, and the building is 15,000 square feet.

The property is an irregularly-shaped lot within the triangle formed by Mableton Parkway, Old Alabama Road, and Old Powder Springs Road.

It is zoning case Z-23, and the applicant is Fifty-Nine Twelve Mableton Parkway, LLC.

The zoning application describes the purpose of the request as follows:

The initial plans are to renovate and retrofit the existing building. The applicant also has plans for a future addition(s) to the existing building and/or site. The hours of operation are proposed to be Sunday through Saturday 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Attorney Garvis Sams represented the applicant at the hearing. He said that the property was originally rezoned in 2018, but economic conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the property from being redeveloped at that time.

One of the issues of contention in discussions between the applicant and the neighbors had been available parking spaces. Sams said there is a reciprocal agreement between a church next door and the applicant for use of parking spaces, and that the church only holds services on Saturday nights.

Another point of disagreement, Sams said, was permitted uses. There is a list of prohibited uses that the Mableton Improvement Coalition (MIC) and the applicant had agreed on, and one of the prohibitions proposed by MIC was thrift stores.

But the applicant wants the ability to bring a Goodwill Industries store onto the property, according to Sams.

Also at issue has been the compliance with the Mableton Parkway and Veterans Memorial Highway Design Guidelines. The staff comments stated that the plan was not compliant with the guidelines.

Sams said the applicant would comply with the guidelines.

Robin Meyer, representing the MIC zoning committee, recommended approval with a number of stipulations.

She said, “I think Mr. Sams has done a good job of providing you with the history of this property. I won’t wear out that topic.”

“I can say that MIC recommends approval of this application, so long as we can put in place and keep in place some important protections for the community.”

“The first issue is parking,” she said. “Despite the issues raised at the last hearing, some rather hopeful parking spaces remain on the site plan.

“The parking spaces along the sides of the building will simply not be usable,” she said, “with truck traffic to the back of the building.”

“Similarly, the parking spaces to the to the west, along the border with the adjacent home will not be useful because that border buffer is not large enough to protect that residential property,” Meyer said.

“The church property is available parking. But this is a 15,000 square foot building to generate parking needs depending upon the use. So there’s some assumptions that we’ve all been working on here that may or may not be true in the future,” she said. “They’re true now, but the future is unknown in so many ways.”

“The first is the assumption that the church operates only on Saturday nights,” Meyer said. “I drove by Sunday morning, to see the church doors open, and church in session. Clearly the Saturday night only assumption is not true.”

She also raised an objection to the exception the developer wanted to make for a possible Goodwill store.

District 4 Commissioner Michael Hughes, who represents the district on the Planning Commission, led off the discussion among commissioners.

He said that one of his concerns was how the site plan’s parking design would impact the construction of the multi-use trail in development along Mableton Parkway.

He said it was determined that the conflicts would be temporary, while the trail was under construction, but should not affect the site plan in the long run.

Hughes also asked Sams about the applicant’s request to allow Goodwill. Sams said there had bee no talks he knew of with Goodwill, but that he considered them a well-run operation.

After listing stipulations, Hughes made a motion that the commission recommend approval. The motion passed 5-0.