Public hearing held on consulting contract for Cobb Unified Development Code

Jessica Guinn speaking at Cobb County Board of Commissioners meetingCobb Community Development Director Jessica Guinn (screenshot from BOC video)

Before last Tuesday’s meeting of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, the BOC held its public hearing in preparation for hiring a consultant to work on the Cobb County Unified Development Code. The end result of this process will be establishing new codes for land use and zoning in the county.

Cobb County Community Development Director Jessica Guinn was called to the podium, and said that the board had previously authorized staff to move forward with the procurement process to establish qualifications for a consultant to develop a Unified Development Code.

The project is expected to exceed $100,000 in cost, so under Georgia law a public hearing is required, preceded by announcements in a local paper, in this case the Marietta Daily Journal.


Cobb resident Ron Sifen, who has been a longtime community activist in Cobb County, raised objections to the process.

“I have concerns about replacing our existing zoning code,” Sifen said. “Much of Cobb County is very suburban in character.”

“And the vast majority of people who have chosen to live in Cobb’s suburbs have made that choice because they like the character of the suburban communities they’ve chosen,” said Sifen. “One of the reasons that our suburbs are so desirable, is because their zoning code is designed to promote and protect the suburban lifestyle.”

“While urbanists might have other preferences, our current zoning code does a great job of protecting the character of suburban communities,” he said. “Over the last several weeks, I’ve repeatedly asked, What does Cobb County want to change about the zoning code?”

“And all I get in response is that it’s 50 years old and is therefore out of date,” Sifen said. “Our current zoning code has been kept rigorously up to date through the annual code amendment process, plus additional code amendments that come forward throughout the year.”

Before the hearing was closed out Jessica Guinn returned to the podium, and said that the current code is 50 years old, and while her department wasn’t proposing scrapping the existing code altogether, it was time to take another look based at where the county is going currently.

“Also, the way that the code is now with the development standards is not particularly user friendly for other citizens or businesses or the folks who are trying to build and do business here in Cobb County,” she said. “So that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”