After focusing on Cobb’s 2014 Comprehensive Plan in January, the Planning Commission met all day Tuesday to review requests for zoning changes.
In one case, the Planning Commission sided with outspoken residents who want to stop commercial development from extending further down Dallas Highway.
Vincent and Phyllis Picardi, a retired couple living in Arizona, want to rezone 4.4 acres of undeveloped land from single-family residential to a low-rise office district, in order to build a complex for professional offices for doctors, attorneys and accountants.
The property is located on the south side of Dallas Highway, east of Poplar Springs Road, next to a large power substation off the state highway.
The Picardi family, who has owned the land for 25 years, wants to build a one-story, 44,000 square-foot office space, according to their attorney, Garvis Sams.
Trying to get a residential developer interested in the land has been a hard sell, Sams told the Planning Commission.
“It looks like an industrial development,” Sams said.
He said an office complex would be an appropriate buffer between the large amount of commercial space to the east on Dallas Highway and the mostly residential development to the west.
Residents demand consistent land use
Two Cobb residents spoke out against any further commercial development encroaching on the residential area near the Paulding county line.
Keli Gambrill, with the Marietta-based civic organization People Looking After Neighborhoods, said the Planning Commission must follow the future land use map or face litigation by residents.
Kathy Hansen said the rezoning would violate the county’s master plan, which specifically designated a power substation as a barrier to keep commercial development from moving any further west.
“Look how many empty offices are off Dallas Highway,” Hansen said.
Planning Commission member Bob Hovey, who represents the disputed area, said residents raised his major concerns.
Hovey said because the power substation was a logical cut off point to separate the residential area, he was not able to support the application for rezoning.
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the application to the Board of Commissioners.
The next zoning meeting by the Board of Commissioners is at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning at 100 Cherokee St.
“Stealth” communications tower proposed
In the case of a special land-use permit, there was no opposition by the public to the application.
The Planning Commission unanimously recommended to approve the wireless communications tower, but with stipulations.
NBA star Julius Erving’s company, Dr. J Enterprises, LLC, has partnered with Municipal Communications, LLC to sell communities on the benefits of adding wireless communication tower and antennas, even in residential neighborhoods.
Tuesday’s case involved land owned and occupied by the Hurt Road Baptist Church, located on the south side of Hurt Road, west of Marcela Drive.
The 4.6 acre tract is zoned residential and is surrounded by housing subdivisions, including one to the north within the Smyrna city limits.
The church is represented by Sams, who said the primary user of the tower will be AT&T with space for five other communication providers.
The tower would stand on a 3,700 foot space, and be accessed through the church’s parking lot once a month for maintenance, Sams said.
Sams said the tower would be fashioned with fake branches and vegetation, to look like an evergreen tree.
Tower’s “fall zone” includes homes, Hurt Road
According to the application, the wireless communications tower would be positioned on the east side of the church’s property.
The property line is bordered by a few homes, two that are owned by the Hurt Road Baptist Church.
County staff said the 155-foot tall tower must have a 170-foot radius around the base free of major roads or buildings, according to the county code.
Sams said the tower would stand 55 feet away from residential homes, 77 feet from church buildings, and 137 feet from the right-of-way off Hurt Road.
Galt Porter, who represents the area on the Planning Commission, said the lack of space is a concern because a possible collapse of the tower could crush entire homes in the “fall zone.”
“Although it doesn’t happen often, it is a real possibility,” Porter said.
Staff recommended the tower be moved more to the interior of the church property, which is also the recommendation the Planning Commission gave to the Board of Commissioners.
But Sams said Hurt Road Baptist Church plans to add more buildings and sports fields.
Sams told the members of the Planning Commission that he plans to talk to the county commissioners “and maintain our position” of where the tower will be placed.