Please make plans to attend the Planning Commission Zoning Hearing on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 9 AM, at 100 Cherokee St 2nd Floor BOC Room Marietta GA 30090, and the Board of Commissioners Zoning Hearing on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, at 9 AM, same location. We need a lot of people there to support the East Cobb quality of life, and oppose urban, high-density development in low-density neighborhoods, like the proposed Isakson Living East Cobb (zoning case Z-2 2014). This is far from a "done deal!"
On Jan 31, 2014, representatives of East Cobb Civic Association (ECCA) and Concerned Citizens East Cobb (CCEC) met with Isakson Living and Erickson Living to discuss their plans. We were told there would be further revisions. After 6 weeks of waiting for revised plans, the third Isakson Living plan is more of the same - huge buildings and very high density in terms of living units per acre. To be sure, we asked that they lower the density by having some cottage-style living units, as opposed to earlier proposals, which were all apartment-style. What they changed was less than 5% of the independent living units converted to cottages, lowering the density to 17.1 units per acre, while all the surrounding neighborhoods are less than 4 units per aces, and the vast majority are less than 2.5 units per acre.
We all wonder why the Isakson Living proposal is touted as needing to be this large? The common refrain is that the only way to make it profitable to the owners and affordable to the residents is by making it incredibly dense. However, consider Isakson Living's Park Springs community in Stone Mountain, Georgia, which consists of 473 units on 54 acres, or 8.8 units per acre. Is Park Springs too low density to be affordable to its residents, or profitable to its owners? Why does Isakson Living and their "partners" at Erickson Living want nearly twice the density of Park Springs in East Cobb? Any reasonable person can clearly see that it doesn’t need to be built this densely.
Another Isakson Living argument is that there is a huge need for this kind of senior living community. There are 10 senior living facilities in a 5-mile radius of the Tritt property, in addition to a Residential Senior Living community that was recently approved on Piedmont Road. One property cannot satisfy the needs of all of Cobb County. If Wal-Mart said their market research indicated the need for a 5-story store on the Tritt property, would they not be laughed out of the zoning office? And, let's never lose sight of the fact that this proposal would be expensive for the residents, and thus serve the needs of a very small fraction of Cobb's seniors.
What about the impact of this Isakson Living development on schools? Sure, Isakson Living would be age restricted to those over 62, but where are those people coming from? If a significant number are coming from the local community, who will buy their homes when they move into this retirement community? Young families with kids. Those kids will certainly impact our schools. You cannot add hundreds of living units of any sort to an area and not impact schools. And, if there will not be that many local seniors moving into the proposed community, then why all the fuss from the friends and family of the developer?
What about the enormous amount of tax revenue that the Isakson Living proposal would supposedly generate when and if it is ever completed in 10 years or longer? While we would prefer a park on the Tritt property, a subdivision would be built and sold in a couple years, and generate tax revenue immediately. And if the traffic and congestion goes up, property values for nearby homeowners will decrease, and existing homeowner tax revenue will be lost.
Lastly, what about Isakson Livings offer of 9.5 acres to Cobb County to expand East Cobb Park, in exchange for damaging our neighborhood and quality of life? Understand that Sewell Mill Creek has a 100 foot stream buffer that cannot be built in. There is also the 7.5 acres of floodplain, much of which overlaps the stream buffer. Lastly, there is a section that is very steep, going down to the creek from Fullers Park. The land is all either impossible or impractical to build on. The land comes with a built-in "trail" in the form of the 20 foot wide sewer easement, which the county keeps cleared, and which has a tall concrete silo manhole cover every 100 feet or so. While any park land is welcome, this is no loss to Isakson Living. More than 25% of the Tritt property is stream buffer or floodplain, and could not be developed by anyone. Again, we would all love to have more park land, but we won't sell out our community for a narrow strip of floodplain.
Please help us oppose this unreasonable proposal and protect East Cobb from this development. Write or call the county commissioners, and please plan to attend the Planning Commission Zoning Hearing on May 6th! Email the commissioners directly from here.