By Mark Woolsey
After more than ten months and 22 revisions, the long-debated zoning change for a mixed-used development in East Cobb has been approved-with a last-minute twist.
The proposal cleared the Cobb County Board of Commissioners on a 3-1 vote, with commissioner Keli Gambrill voting no and chairwoman Lisa Cupid abstaining.
The decision means that Northpoint Ministries will build a 125,000 square-foot church at the busy intersection of Shallowford and Johnson Ferry roads, while the developer of the residential part of the complex will construct a maximum of 95 homes (51 detached residences and 44 townhomes), down from 112 in a prior version of the plan. Some limited commercial development is also included.
The move also caps residential development at five units per acre and seeks to restrict impervious surface to 40 percent there. In addition, it provides for a relocated Waterfront Drive connecting with Johnson Ferry Road and separated from the residential development to mitigate cut-through traffic.
The East Cobb Civic Association and some neighboring homeowners had objected to the high-density nature of the development and voiced concerns about traffic flow and stormwater management.
Fresh criticism of the development plan came Tuesday from those upset that the changes had been filed just days ago.
Ruth Michels of the nearby MarLanta neighborhood told commissioners that “Mr. Moore’s last-minute revisions to the plan leaves us at a loss for words and is inappropriate,” and indicated neighborhoods she was speaking on behalf of remain opposed.
“The applicant is not working with or listening to the community,” she asserted.
Gambrill also expressed surprise and some disappointment over the handling of the issue.
But Kevin Moore, attorney for North Point, touted the latest version of the mixed-use development as an effective compromise among competing interests.
“We think this strikes the proper balance,” he said. “If everyone gets 80 percent of what they want, it’s a good plan.”
Plans are for plans for Northpoint to sell off a little more than 20 acres of the property to Ashwood Development for the residential piece. There’s no word on a development timetable.
The development is near the northern end of District 2 commissioner Jerica Richardson’s district. She announced during the discussion that she was creating an advisory group for the JOSH (Johnson Ferry-Shallowford area) to ensure sufficient future input on projects proposed in that area.