By Rebecca Gaunt
Janine Eveler, director of Cobb County Elections, is on Monday’s agenda to address the Kennesaw City Council with an election update.
The special election for the vacated Post 1 seat hit some serious snags. The results immediately after the election showed only a 16-vote difference between leader Madelyn Orochena and second-place finisher Lynette Burnette. Due to outstanding absentee ballots, it took a week to certify Orochena as the winner. The next day she learned that was a mistake.
Though there is currently a recount being conducted, due to a memory card not being properly uploaded on election night, the results were recertified Friday. Burnette is now the newest council member by 31 votes.
Burnette is the subject of much speculation by the community because she did not conduct a public campaign along with the other six candidates who participated in public forums and media Q&As.
Little is known about Burnette, but she appears to work in the aviation industry. An agenda from a February 2013 Cobb County Airport – McCollum Field Airport Strategic Planning Board meeting lists her as a guest on behalf of Atlanta Executive Jet Center.
The Courier has reached out to Burnette with multiple interview requests. On Saturday Neil Bitting responded on her behalf to say she will not be available until everything is finalized. Despite pressing for more information, the Courier was provided with a statement by text message: “I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve the people of Kennesaw. It may have been an unconventional election; however, I look forward to keeping Kennesaw the best community.”
Meanwhile, the flip flop in the outcome of the election has garnered national attention and Orochena’s campaign website went down Saturday due to an influx of visitors.
Also on Monday’s meeting agenda:
Varner Developers requested a rezoning amendment for the mixed-use project on Old 41 Highway, where Electric Cowboy used to be located.
The development, approved in 2018, was supposed to include a highly-desired hotel within the city limits. In 2019, the Council approved $385,000 in incentives to move the project forward at the request of the developer. Earlier this year, the developer proposed substituting a storage facility for the hotel, citing changes in the market. The idea was soundly rejected by frustrated city staff and council and never went to a vote.
Varner is now requesting elimination of the hotel component and to replace it with a mixed-use development that will consist of 208 luxury apartment units, a minimum of 6,000 square feet of leasing and amenity space, a minimum of 12,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial, a multi-level parking deck, pedestrian connectivity access points along the adjacent property, and a multi-use trail.
Stratus Property Group requested to withdraw its application without prejudice for a rezoning of 3707 and 3715 Cherokee St. from single-family residential to multi-family residential for 35 townhomes.
Both zoning matters are public hearings allowing for public comment.
The meeting will be held at City Hall in Council Chambers at 6:30. It also streams live on the city Facebook page.
Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.