Cobb Planning Commission delays recommendation on rezoning request for property on Austell Road

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At its meeting Tuesday, the Cobb County Planning Commission delayed making a recommendation on a rezoning request for a property on Austell Road in the City of Mableton.

It held the case until its May meeting. The case number is Z-10-2024, and you can view the case documents by following this link.

The property is located on the west side of Austell Road and the south side of Warren Drive.

The applicant is Paul A. Edjua, owner of POPOL LLC. Edjua owns an urgent care center adjacent to the property and wants to combine two small properties currently in different zoning categories.

The request is to rezone the property from GC (general commercial) and R-15, to NRC (neighborhood retail center) for the purpose of building a small retail center. Edjua also requests three variances with a reduction in the setback required by the code.

The variances are:

1. To reduce the front setback from the required 50 feet to 20 feet.
2. To reduce the major side yard setback from the required 35 feet to 15 feet.
3. To reduce the Landscape Buffer adjacent to residentially zoned property from the
required 20 feet to 10 feet.

Edjua said that the small size of the property and its location as a corner lot make the variances necessary to build to an economically viable size.

“I looked at the objection from some of my opposition, as well as the recommendation of the zoning staff,” he said. “I’ve already done some stuff which I saw online as a recommendation.”

“There’s already a 200-foot privacy fence that was the first thing I did a year ago in anticipation for this, between the property and the residential property to the west,” he said.

Edjua said that his parking area would not be visible from the residential property along Warren Drive because of the eight-foot fence.

“And I’m also going to do a good buffer … landscape buffer,” he said.

He said he could not build his project on the property without requesting variances because the setbacks would make the remaining area too small.

Robin Meyer, co-chair of the Mableton Improvement Coalition’s Zoning Committee, spoke in opposition to the rezoning request.

“I very much appreciate Mr. Edjua’s interest in developing this property as a commercial property because, given its location on Austell Road immediately across from South Cobb High School, it does seem very likely that it should all be zoned commercial,” she said.

“The fence is certainly a good start. But a fence is not sufficient buffer for a parking lot against a single-family home.”

“This is a very small lot,” she said. “The two parcels together are only about two-thirds of an acre. But the proposed development is simply too intense.”

“We’re not site designers, so I can’t tell you exactly what we would like to see on this property,” Meyer said. “But I can tell you that the variances required are simply not suitable.”

“If a development requires a front setback variance, major side setback variance and landscape buffer variance,  then we think it needs a redesign.”

Meyer said MIC and the applicant are so far away from agreement that MIC is recommending denial of the application, but she hoped that a site plan for commercial development could be designed that MIC could support.

The commissioners’ discussion was turned over to David Anderson, who asked the applicant if a smaller building had been considered. Edjua said he’d be willing to increase the setback and build a two-story building.

Anderson said that he’d like to see a reworked site plan that, rather than adding a second story to the building, reduces the square footage, and that includes building elevations and placement of the dumpster, along with a stipulation letter that outlines prohibited uses, 

He moved that the case be held for 30 days, and the motion passed 3-0, with commissioners Vault and Hughes absent.

About the Cobb County Planning Commission

The web page for the Planning Commission describes its purpose 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.

The main month-to-month activity of the Planning Commission is to evaluate zoning requests from applicants and make recommendations on approval or denial to the Board of Commissioners .

It should be understood that the Planning Commission doesn’t have the final say on rezoning request, but advises the BOC, which makes the final decision.

Here is the current board:

MemberAppointed byTerm
Stephen VaultChairwoman Cupid12/31/24
Fred BeloinCommissioner Gambrill12/31/26
David AndersonCommissioner Richardson12/31/24
Christine LindstromCommissioner Birrell12/31/26
Michael HughesCommissioner Sheffield12/31/24