Cobb Planning Commission recommends denial of a large mixed use development in Town Center area

Cobb County government building sign, a vertical rectangular sign with the words "Board of Commissioners," "County Clerk," "County Manager," "County Office," "Employment," and a wheelchair entrance icon

By Caleb Groves

MARIETTA, Ga.– On Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, the Cobb County Planning Commission recommended denial of a rezoning application for a multi-use land parcel off of Chastain Road and Chastain Meadows Parkway in Cobb Commission District 3.

The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, and the BOC makes the final decision.

The applicant was SDP Acquisitions LLC. The case was Z-15-2023.

The site plan for the mixed-use development included townhomes, senior living, office, retail and warehouse use. However, at each meeting, citizens from the community pushed back in opposition to the site plan.

The applicant has spent the past three months in front of the Planning Commission to get their rezoning application for their large property approved, each time with the board requesting changes to the site plan.

Attorney Kevin Moore, representing the applicant, presented to the board a revised site plan, including a 90-foot tree buffer between the property and I-75, to address concerns over clear-cutting trees and noise from I-75. He also presented measures that would preserve 900 trees.

In addition, Moore presented a plaza, retail area and walking space for the senior living portion part of the parcel.

Moore said the proposed 30 acres of office space, which include 33 dock doors, align with neighboring properties along Chastain Meadows Parkway.

“I’d look at the other properties in this particular area and don’t recognize and know for a fact not a single one of them has ever been held to any development standard that says they have to designate tree-safe areas,” Moore said. “They simply abided by the county code.”

Eight people opposed the rezoning plans.

Tullan Avard of the Bells Ferry Civic Association raised concerns over the office space rezoning that looks like it might be utilized as a warehouse instead.

“The BFCA remains opposed to this rezoning request due to the size and intensity of the speculative warehouses, zero lot lines, deforestation of the entire site causing increased noise, air and visual pollution, and an inadequate berm between the PVC and OS areas,” Avard said.

Although the applicant added additional tree-saving measures, they are still clear cutting approximately 16,000 trees, which will degrade air quality as well as create noise and visual pollution for nearby neighborhoods, Avard said.

Commissioner David Anderson said there are “wild inconsistencies” between the number of loading dock doors Costar, a third party property analysis company, considers consistent with the area, and the 27 doors the applicant said is consistent.

Commissioner Deborah Dance mentioned that this is one of the last remaining large wooded parcels in the area and must consider preserving as much greenery as possible.

“I conclude that the proposed OS track in its current iteration is not necessarily a proposal that I can support as it currently stands,” Dance said.

The PC unanimously voted to deny the application.

However, the commission did provide stipulations for the applicant if they chose to reapply. The stipulations include a minimum 40-foot buffer along I-75 and the southern border of the property, 20 feet of which must be undisturbed trees, a maximum of 135 townhomes, a plan to maximize greenery and no more than one loading dock per 6,000 square feet of office space.

The board also recommended they reapply for public village community (PVC) zoning rather than office space and public village community zoning.

The BFCA was “elated” that the PC denied the rezoning application and supported the idea of reapplying for PVC zoning but still opposed the alternative measure allowing for reapplication with OS zoning.

Avard said the surrounding area has plenty of distribution centers but needs additional housing.

Caleb Groves is a Journalism student at Kennesaw State University, where he is a junior.

Originally from Minnesota, Caleb moved to Georgia with his family, where he now lives in Woodstock with his Father, Stepmom and numerous pets.

When he is not in writing, in class or coaching rock climbing, he spends his time listening to music and rock climbing both indoors and out