The head count at the Tuesday, March 3 Planning Commission meeting was 171 opposed to rezoning Z-2 (our team yellow) and 107 for Isakson Living (wearing red). Thank you East Cobb, through two years of this zoning battle, our Concerned Citizens numbers have remained so strong, and we are very encouraged about that! You can order a Yellow shirt for the March 17 meeting here!
At the March 3 Planning Commission meeting, several Concerned Citizens presented on the height of the apartments buildings, worsened views, how surrounding properties would be affected by such an intense development, protection of wetlands and streams, and the timing of the potential park donation.
In the end, the Planning Commission voted to recommend approval for the Isakson Living CCRC, but with several important changes, such as lowering building height to 2-stories as recommended by zoning staff, lowering the overall number of units to 450, and removing 7 of 65 CCRC homes planned within protected stream buffers. A number of stipulations were also either added or strengthened to further protect the community.
The Planning Commission can only make recommendations, and the final decision on the rezoning will be made in 2 weeks on March 17th, same time, same place, at the Cobb County Board of Commissioners (BOC) zoning hearing. We don't know if Isakson Living will present their current plan, the Planning Commission's recommended plan or some other version at the Board of Commissioners meeting on March 17.
In the Marietta Daily Journal article this morning, the lawyer for Isakson Living is quoted as saying that this plan is not designed to overwhelm schools. However, it must be pointed out that the project is so large, it could overload the Walton school district: if even 100 retirees from East Cobb moved into this 481 or 450-unit retirement community, that would mean 100 more houses on the market in East Cobb for new families to move into, and that could overwhelm the schools more than if the property were an 80-home subdivision, which is what the property is zoned for. Traffic would still be more intense with a CCRC than an 80-home subdivision, just because of the high number of units planned, and this would affect how children get to school.
The commercial WellStar building across the street did not go through the zoning process, and traffic can be affected by that too. The square footage of the proposed CCRC is equal to 6.5 WellStars.
The right of communities to protect zoning categories is being challenged with this zoning case. As we gear up for the final BOC hearing on March 17th, plan to attend and be counted. We did not get everything we want on March 3, but we will continue to press for less intensity and impact on the community.
If the developer cannot or will not compromise, we will continue to push for denial. But we need your help at the BOC hearing on March 17th, to attend and be counted. With our huge strength in numbers, we can motivate the Commissioners to do the right thing for the citizens of East Cobb!
We can keep sharing the Petition with our friends and neighbors and keep writing the Board of Commissioners before March 17.