Contentious rezoning case on townhomes on Wade Green Road held until May Planning Commission meeting

Map showing the intersection of Wade Green Road and Wooten Lake RoadScreenstop of map from Open Street Maps

At the meeting of the Cobb County Planning Commission a motion passed 5-0 to hold (or postpone) a contentious zoning case until the May meeting in order to give time for the applicant and representatives from the community to meet and work out a compromise on the rezoning request.

The commissioners also left the possibility open for further extension if the applicant and the community need extra time to continue negotiations.

The case number is Z-7 of 2022 and the property is located on the southeast side of Wade Green Road, north of Wooten Lake Road.

The applicant, KM Homes, requested rezoning from R-20, or low-density residential, to FST, or fee simple townhouse, for the purpose of building 37 townhomes on 8.4 acres.

The applicant was represented by attorney Parks Huff.

“It’s a triangular shape of property, right across from Pitner Elementary School just north and contiguous to a Publix shopping center,” Huff said.

“If you follow Wade Green Road to the south, you get to the interstate,” he said. “So you can see this as a transition property as you transition from the intensity towards the interstate and lower density residential behind us into the north,”

Huff said that the future land use plan has the property designated as medium density residential (MDR).

“The land use plan is very important to consider here in that you have this property designated as medium density residential,” he said.

“And it also works in this situation because you have a triangular odd-shaped piece of property,” he said. “And MDR actually worked better on development in a odd-shaped piece of property than a traditional zoning category.”

“The neighbors have had some questions and concerns so they ‘fight’ rezoning. And one thing I’d like to know: why do we use antagonistic terms like ‘fight’? I mean, we need to do a better job with our dialogue,” Huff said. “And they have circulated a petition that we need to ‘fight’ this rezoning.”

“What we’re fighting is housing for people,” he said. “That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about zoning, is housing for people. We don’t need to fight housing for people.”

He said that since the county staff had recommended approval for the rezoning, if the Planning Commission recommends denial, he wants to be given a reason.

The opposition to the development was represented by Andy Johnston.

He opened by saying, “Mr. Huff did a really good job today reading our petition to you. So that’s going to make things a whole lot quicker here.”

“In this particular situation, need to take a little bit broader perspective of this,” he said.
“This is not just this little pocket near that shopping center and Pitner Elementary.”

“This is on the edge of a very large section of R-20 zoning that extends from Baker Road at the west all the way over to Bells Ferry Road on the east, goes from the edge of the shopping center all the way up to the county line.”

“Now this is all R-20 zoning, all single family homes. Any time, any place in Cobb County where there is a large concentration of R-20 homes, the situation is exactly the same as what we’re talking about this morning.”

“Now, we turned in a set of petitions this morning to you that Mr. Huff talked about with 841 names that were gathered in one month alone,” he said. “So this is a very, very hot button issue …”

The petition referred to by Johnston is reprinted below:

We, the undersigned feel that the rezoning of this property from R-20 to FST would be detrimental to the environment, schools, public safety, home values, and the quality of life of the existing residents. It would set a precedent that would allow other townhouse developments to be built in the area with less control and oversight. We respectfully ask that the Cobb County Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners vote against Rezoning Case Z-7-2022.

  1. There is no FST zoning anywhere in this area.
  2. It doesn’t provide an actual solution to the need for new housing and affordable housing
  3. The property is inappropriate for the development with too high a density.
  4. It is disruptive to Pitner Elementary School and the businesses at Wade Green Village.
  5. It creates fire, safety and rainwater management issues.
  6. The rezoning and townhouse development contributes nothing to the neighborhoods and families in the area. There are no benefits to the citizens.

Johnston continued, “This is a conceptual plan. After five months, you’re still looking at a concept. This isn’t real, this isn’t a preliminary site plan.”

“This isn’t what they’re going to build. This is what they’re kind of sort of maybe thinking about building. If you look at this plan, it’s very blank,” he said. “It’s like face with no eyebrows. It’s based on a 1981 survey. The data is 41 years old.”

“Out of that survey, the only information they’ve included are the boundary lines, some map coordinates, and the location of one stream,” he said. “There are no dimensions on this plan. If you wanted to know the length of that southern property line, you couldn’t do it.”

“There’s no measurements on it. There’s no details here. There’s no existing water lines, sewer lines, water sewer connections, is there an easement on this property?”

The property is in District 3, so Deborah Dance is the planning commissioner for the area. She asked several times if the applicant and the community would be willing to sit down together and work things out. She suggested that the size of the meeting to do that be limited to a few people, not a room full of people.

Huff and the community residents who were present agreed that they could meet to negotiate.

Dance made a motion to hold the case until the May meeting, and it passed.

About the Planning Commission

The Planning Commission hearings and recommendations have some of the highest impacts on quality of life in the county of any public body.

Their job is to make recommendations on rezoning requests, special land use requests, and other business involving land use and zoning, and to send those recommendations to the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, who make the final decision.

The Planning Commission is described on the Cobb County website as follows:

Established as an advisory Commission to assist the governing authority (BOC) in the administration and enforcement of the Zoning and Planning Act and to prescribe the duties and functions of such commission.

The full duties and functions of this Commission are contained in the Cobb County Zoning Ordinance, Section 3-28-9 134-61.

Members are appointed for terms which run concurrently with those of the appointing commissioner and are subject to removal with or without cause and without regard to any unexpired term. The Commission Chair is compensated $275.00 per month, the Secretary is compensated $275.00 per month with all other members compensated $250.00 per month.

Members of the Planning Commission

MemberAppointed ByTerm

Steven VaultChairwoman Cupid12/31/2024
Fred BeloinCommissioner Gambrill12/31/2022
David AndersonCommissioner Richardson12/31/2024
Deborah DanceCommissioner Birrell12/31/2022
Michael HughesCommissioner Sheffield12/31/2024