Developer baffled by Smyrna process for his proposed South Cobb Dr. development
by Noreen Cochran
February 21, 2013 12:06 AM | 5845 views | 36 36 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — A developer said he was left puzzled about the fate of a “gateway” to Smyrna at South Cobb Drive and the East-West Connector, after the city council on Monday deferred the company’s zoning request for another month.

Managing Partner Daniel S. O’Neill of Marietta developer Columbia Properties said he didn’t have “the foggiest idea” why a seemingly simple procedure became a lightning rod for controversy.

“I’m confused. We’ve never had this problem as a developer,” he said. “It was just an approval of a change of our site plan, so it was just moving around our buildings. We’re already zoned for all those uses. I don’t understand why it hasn’t been approved.”

The company wants to modify its previously approved 2008 site plan to put a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, a Del Taco restaurant, an Auto Zone car parts store and a bank, as yet unnamed, on a 6-acre site at 4560 S. Cobb Drive.

After a public hearing, the council deferred the company’s zoning request to the March 18 meeting.

“They felt it didn’t create ‘a sense of place.’ That was the quote from the staff recommendations. I don’t know what they mean,” O’Neill said.

Opponents weighed in on the plan.

“There were three people who spoke in opposition. One was basically talking about the original landscaping by Smyrna Eye Group,” O’Neill said about an existing business next to a Race Trac gas station. “One lady suggested we put a high-rise condo tower on the site, so that doesn’t count. And another said she didn’t like our site plan.”

Mayor Max Bacon said the council did not defer the matter lightly.

“We had a lot of discussion on it and some concern by the council members. It was tabled by Ron Fennel,” he said about a city councilman.

Fennel and City Councilman Wade Lnenicka held a town hall meeting Feb. 7 about the project, at which Fennel called the corner “a gateway for Smyrna.”

Bacon said the timing of a traffic signal at the corner led to the deferral, to give the developer and staff time to consult.

“The main issues were transportation and traffic. I’m hoping that those issues can be resolved and figure out how to regulate the light so folks can get in and out of there,” he said.

Bacon said he also hoped a good resolution will pick up the local economy, replacing some of the revenue the former Home Depot landscaping store took away when it went dark.

“It’s been vacant for I don’t know how long. Then they were going to put a CVS on the corner. That fell through,” he said.

The company has worked hard to attract nationally known tenants, Bacon said, which will help the city’s tax base.

“Some days you think the economy is better and sometimes it isn’t. I’m hoping it’s just a few issues that we’ll have to resolve and make sure everyone’s taken care of,” he said. “If we resolve the issues, we’ll be all right.”

O’Neill said he and stakeholders like Krispy Kreme representative Colliers International, project manager The Trilogy Group and attorney Garvis Sams will rehuddle.

“There will be some discussions with the council members,” O’Neill said. “We’re not sure what were going to do at this point. We may or may not stay with this site plan.”

He described a fallback position.

“Some of our tenants can go on the approved site plan,” he said. “The Auto Zone parcel was on the original site plan. Because of time constraints and issues with our lenders, we may move forward with Auto Zone.”
Comments
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netdragon
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March 20, 2013
Wow, mk really spammed this article. Half the posts were probably mk and Alex. Boy they love talking to themselves and hearing themselves speak, pretending to be other people.

That's called trolling, btw. It was why she was banned from city data's message board, for instance.
netdragon
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February 23, 2013
The developer cannot understand that we don't want more commercial blight, just so he can make a quick buck. The development has to be planned intelligently and fit in with the character of the area, it should make use of the Silver Comet Trail as an asset, and be designed as street-lined buildings met to attract walkers, with parking in the back.
mk- the truth
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February 24, 2013
Unfortunately, a taco shop, donut store & car repair is EXACTLY the character of Smyrna. Who can't see the blight that Smyrna has ensured it will remain. Just look at EVERY corridor-

Spring Road-looks like a cement wasteland.

Windy Hill-poor, cluttered, yuck!

South Cobb-junky,poverty, cheap, stuck in the 60's.

Concord Road- being destroyed- a ROAD? A wide, treeless road is not quality!

Atlanta Road- boring, too much cement, too many lights. NO TREES??? Yeah, thats the ticket!!.

No trees, no trails, no businesses, no vision!

Thanks to the corrupt cronies on their thrones.

Just came from a wonderful bike ride through Brookhaven/Chamblee. So many parks & trails. So many gardens areas to stop and relax and ponder. So wonderful biking through the old neighborhoods, drooling over the awesome home remodels. Keeping things quaint, walkable, heavily wooded and natural adds so much to the quality of life that they enjoy in their cities.

All the resturants and shops were jumping, many people walking and working in yards. The mixed use development on Dresden is a great compliment to the surrounding neighborhoods. Town Brookhaven has brought many new residents w/ its young hip apartments.

Oh , and I want to give compliments to the beautiful pedestrian briges at entrace to Snellville. At night, it lights up w/ soft blue lights. Very nice!

Smyrna Resident
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February 25, 2013
I recall when the residents of Virginia Highlands and Inman Park fought to "Stop the Road". It was back in the late '80's. The effort spared their neighborhoods and has afforded that whole area of town to become one of the more affluent and sought after communities ITP. They now have parks , trees and trails where the road would have been. See Freedom Park and the 4th Ward Park. Wonderful assets.

The difference with Smyrna, is there has been no plan and it has become a very disconnected, cluttered sprawl with far too much emphasis on wide roads instead of designing a community.

Terribly unfortunate for the future.
netdragon
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March 20, 2013
Mk- put your money where your mouth is and talk to Wade Lenicka and Ron Fennel about that lot. They are already talking with the developers about my suggestions.

You are always spouting negativity about Smyrna, but then when the city does things to oppose changing developments like Jonquil Village away from mixed use, you complain that nothing got built. You can't have it both ways.

Developers look at the current state of Smyrna from 30 years back and not what we are shooting for, and what we have for recent development, then get confused when we oppose their plans for same-old, same-old. Perhaps talk to the developers and educate them if you want to be helpful.

By the way, at the last meeting, the developer for the Fletcher corner townhomes said he plans to do more in Smyrna. That's really positive, especially since he's been hands-off since 2007.
Got your back....
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February 22, 2013
Too Much Commercial,... you are no doubt one uneducated fool.

People can see with their own eyes, Smyrna cannot be turned around.

Give it up, bud.
anonymous
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February 22, 2013
You show your lack of decorum and also education by making your stupid comment. You don't know one thing about my education, so how can there be "no doubt" about that, and it takes one fool to call out another one. I am not a pessimist. My eyes are open to bright possibilities. I am glad I am me and not you. It sure must be dark in your tunnel.
anonymous
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February 22, 2013
MK: Anyone that comments on what you say is certainly not a stalker. You are "in the face" of people everywhere constantly writing about your hatred of Cobb Co. / Smyrna. People don't need to stalk to find you everywhere in print.
hmmmm...
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February 22, 2013
Hit a nerve, ay, Sean?

FYI, the people of Smyrna and Cobb deserve BETTER, that is not hatred, it's a simple reality.
anonymous
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February 22, 2013
I feel for whoever Sean is. He gets blamed for everything. Hey, don't attribute my great brain and writing skills to someone named Sean! I worked hard to gain all this knowledge!
Smyrna Resident
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February 22, 2013
As a Smyrna taxpayer, the most troubling part of this zoning downsizing is the only statement from the long time mayor being "I'm excited to see a Krispy Kreme coming to the city".

There is no apparent concern for the cities residents and homeowners.

I find his response to be disturbingly disengaged and disconnected .

I hope
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February 22, 2013
that you're not just now figuring that out.
netdragon
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March 20, 2013
Please talk to Ron Fennel and Wade Lnenicka. They are already opposing the current plans and the more the merrier.

Btw, did you hear at the last meeting (3/18) Ron asking another developer, half jokingly, if he wants to come and buy the Columbia properties' land? :-)

See? Things are happening.
The 53%
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February 22, 2013
Unfortunately, it's an open secret in Cobb County that South Cobb, including Smyrna, is going downhill.

If it were me, I would sell and get out.
netdragon
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March 20, 2013
Really? That's why the avg property values (mostly 3-bedroom properties right now) in 30080 and 30082 are going up and people now call Smyrna, Cumberland and Vinings "Southeast" Cobb and if you look on the trulia land value maps, Smyrna's zip codes are now yellow, which they've never been. That also makes a lot of sense considering Smyrna is almost fully developed and has been extensively re-developed like a lot of in-town. Definately no interest considering so much redevelopment has occurred.

You guys, please stop spamming things with baloney. Move out if you don't like it here so good citizens can enjoy the city. I really don't know what your problems are.
Woodland Brooke Res
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February 21, 2013
What about a small, but mixed use property like Village Green? High-dollar condos w/ skyline views on the top two floors, and restaurants/ shops on the main level?
smyrna=poverty
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February 22, 2013
You do understand , quality stops at the Smyrna city limits.

See Vinings, West Atlanta & East Cobb.

Smyrna is poverty stricken & there is noone willing to step a foot in. It's a losing proposition.

Watcher...
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February 22, 2013
Have you looked at the high vacancy rate at Smyrna's Village Green?
Too Much Commercial
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February 22, 2013
The parcel of land this is talking about is surrounded by commercial and retail industry. Would you want to live in a house surrounded by traffic and business? And if you look up the prices for a lot of the high-dollar townhomes and condos built in the last five years toward Atlanta in Cobb (Vinings), they are going to fire-sale prices now. Also my dentist is in one of the mixed use buildings in Vinings. You can go any time of the day and get a parking spot right at the front door because of how empty the building is. There may be 10 tenants now and it took three years to get those. There are signs "only XX left" on townhomes--only XX left after they have been trying to sell all of them for five years and they are selling for half of what they started out for.
Watcher...
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February 21, 2013
It appears that Smyrna City bureaucrats now control Smyrna's City Council.

Beware of faceless bureaucrats!

Puzzled?
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February 21, 2013
A developer is baffled by the Smyrna process. Try being a citizen. It's beyond bafflement. That Mayor & Council haven't got a clue. They're driving the city over the cliff.

And where is the outrage? Those so called leaders are sitting on their hands while the city is joining the worst parts of the S Cobb & Six Flags areas.
VFP42
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February 21, 2013
Maybe Bacon saw the light and realized Krispy Kreme Del Taco and AutoZone represent, in my opinion, the worst of what America has to offer.

This sort of stuff may be the majority of what America has to offer, but I think it's definitely also the worst America has to offer.

Bacon if you figured that out, good for you. Maybe Smyrna won't be yet another strip mall obesity hell sprawl for much longer.
mk--why smyrna poor
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February 21, 2013
There is a reason Ernst & Young announced yesterday its going to open its 8.5 million dollar global IT headquarters in Alpharetta, adding 400 high tech, high dollar jobs.

That, on on the heels of GM's announcement of its IT Center coming to Roswell, bringing w/ it, 1,000 high paying white collar jobs.

Also the high tech companies, GE Energy, ThyssenKrupp, NCR, Novelis and many others are locating in North Fulton, Perimeter & the I-85 corridor in Gwinnett.

The spokes person for ErnstYoung stated the collaboration w/ the Ga. Dept. of Economic Development, the city of Alpharetta, the N. Fulton Chamber & the Development Authority of Fulton , helped facilitate this project.

Why don't the people in Smyrna DEMAND city get off its butt & actually DO something to make Smyrna attractive to(quality) businesses??
anonymous
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February 21, 2013
What I don't understand, and I hope you can help me to understand, is that below you take a swipe about the gun store receiving bonds to renovate and move. Well, look up the facts about the above companies you mention. They also received millions in bonds to move and renovate. What is the difference? I really do want to understand. And the owners of the above companies don't live in the cities where they are relocating, yet you slam the gun owner for not living in the city where his business is in. I really do want to understand that difference, too. Please don't be mean to me in reply. I just want to understand where you are coming from and what the differences are.
mk-to anonymous
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February 22, 2013
The difference, my friend, is the gun store has brought ZERO quality growth. It's been on South Cobb forever, then recieved the money and hoped across the street. The gun store certainly has every right to do business in Smyrna,... but in no way can be put in the category of 'good growth'.

If you don't understand the different economic impact of bringing high tech companies w/ high paying white collar jobs (which bring in good resturants, shops, services, higher home values) , compared to a gun shop surrounded by weave hair, thrift store, auto repair shops, pawn shops and poverty neighborhoods, then there's no point in having a conversation.

All I can say, enjoy Smyrnas poverty,.. cos nothings coming to Smyrna, period- the lines have been clearly drawn.

I blame the folks of Smyrna that have remained asleep.



mary kirkendoll
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February 21, 2013
I also want to address Jay Wallaces comment directed towards me. He is the owner of the large gun store Outdoor Backyard on the run down South Cobb Drive. I believe I read he recieved 3 million in bonds to renovate & move his store accross the street. His business is doing good AND he was named the citizen of the year in Smyrna. Of course he is going to sing praises to the mayor.

But fortunately for him and his family,... he does NOT live in the city of Smyrna. He could care less about house values and conditions of Smyrnas neighborhoods, including the poverty conditions in ALL of the neighborhoods that surround his store!!!

He's in the city, for the money he can make, period!
RE: Mary
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February 21, 2013
Were you happy with that old grocery store just sitting vacant?

That move created more jobs for people and sales tax for the City. To give tax credits for that is not a bad thing but a win-win for everyone.
@re:Mary
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February 22, 2013
I suppose you are talking about the nasty Kroger that closed and now sits vacant. There is a NEW nasty Kroger accross the street, serving the droves of poor folks in Smyrna.

The new Kroger is no different than the old, only bigger.

The self checkouts are dirty, the parking lot, dirty and the shopping center , empty and outdated!

Yeah, good move!

I prefer to get groceries in Sandy Springs, at Whole Foods & Trader Joes.

Smyrna is a very unhealthy city.
anonymous
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February 22, 2013
You are bordering on the insulting now. All people are not unhappy with where they live. Why don't you just move so you can devote your time to a worthy cause? Stop insulting people. If anything is nasty, it is you. You are nastiest person I ever came across in print form. Just get the heck out of town and stop insulting people just because you have a miserable life and are an unhappy miserable person.
mary kirkendoll
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February 21, 2013
Mr. MsNeil, let me clarify, for the record.

My comments were that something is clearly WRONG in the city of Smyrna.

I did not say YOUR company should build a highrise, but I did state that SOMEONE should!!

That piece of propertyy SHOULD have value & the mayor and council are in DENIAL, by not addressing the clear cutoff line between high dollar Vinings & the low end city of Smyrna.

Just a short block away (outside the city limits) the Vinings address is prestigious, while the Smyrna address brings low rent.

Vinings address has the Ivy Walk, the Aberdeen, One Mountain Vinings, the Heights at Stillhouse, Riverwood, Paces View , Vinings Main, Vinings Jubilee, office towers, and just the other side of the tracks (yet a zip code away), Mr. Garvis Sams is representing John Wielands new 45 home subdivision of homes from the $700's to one million off Woodland Brooke.

How can 6 acres , a BLOCK from those developments, w/ Atlanta skyline views, easy access to Vinings, Atlanta & interstates, not fetch more than low rent donut shop & taco stand, unless there is an understanding agreed by all to steer clear of Smyrna w/ any high end development??

Same holds true for the other end a hop from the Galleria/Cumberland Mall.

The second you cross into city limits you get low income seniors apts., more taco stands, gas stations, car washes & transient apartments,.. w/ NO EFFORT to even consider bringing this entrance to Smyrna up a notch!!

There is NO economic plan in Smyrna, and seemingly noone w/in the city government that is educated enough to bring any quality into the city proper.

RE: Mary
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February 21, 2013
Your feelings should be made directly to your board representative and not to hold this project up. The direct area around this parcel, which you failed to point out, is mainly retail.

At this point, they have invested thousands of dollars into getting things to this stage; you should have said something to your representative during the years the property sat vacant and not wait till now.

And if you feel so strongly about what should go there, contact the owners of the property that are listed in the article. Purchase the land from them, and build what you wish.
Dear Mary
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February 22, 2013
Read the above where you tooted John Wielands' new subdivision in Vinings yesterday and read what you wrote against it in September 2012. "But developers trump homeowners in Cobb" (you were talking about Wielands' development in September 2012). You said: "I just think the property should have been purchased as park property many years ago & protected." Since you know what is best for all this property and you are in the business of trying to stop development you disapprove of, why don't you buy up all this land and develop it yourself? And since you know so much more than all the city officials in Cobb County combined, why don't you run for office next time? Remember, they are all stupid and you are so smart.

mk-@ dear nary
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February 22, 2013
I am first concerned of being stalked by you, since you clearly spend way too much time tying in my name and following all my words-

Sick, really.

Yes, I believe that piece of property , known as an old slave settlement off Woodland Brook , would have much better served Vinings, if Cobb County would have protected it as parkland.

But they didn't.

So I pointed out that Garvis Sams was the attorney for Weiland obtaining zoning for 45 million dollar homes there, and as a representative for this parcel on South Cobb can only attract a taco stand, a donut stand & a car repair, then the question that needs to be asked,... is,...

Why is there NO quality development coming into the CITY of Smyrna, w/ so much high dollar development a few short blocks awat, in UNINCORPORATED Cobb (Vinings)?

If you don't think that is what should be addressed, then by all means, enjoy watching Smyrnas poverty grow!!
Smyrna Lover
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February 22, 2013
I love Smyrna.

netdragon
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March 20, 2013
Ms Mcneil, I don't agree with mk HOWEVER I did talk with my council members, and like many I am opposed to the planned changes, because they are frankly horrible use of the land. We are fighting hard and I can pretty much guarantee the development won't go forward with the changes you propose unless Columbia plays ball and listens to our complaint. There was a different plan, an upscale retail area with roof-top dining and then Columbia attempted to change it to a stripmall and now are trying to change it again, so do not lie and say for a second that what they are planning now was the plan that it had when it sat vacant.

Secondly, the new plan makes horrible use of the land in that it is (A) Not pedestrian friendly (B) Not bike friendly WHEN it sits about 30 feet away from the silver comet trail! Did the developers even consider one of the biggest assets in the area? NO! Why? Because they are building something cookie-cutter, trying to cram it into the space. That is NOT acceptable around luxury homes including some million dollar homes within a half-mile. Completely unacceptable.

We, as a city, are going to stop settling for horrible developments.

With some tweaking, such as better-designed facades, and planning for pedestrian use and bike use and re-orienting it to have more of an urban-village look to it will go along way.

However, if you think that Columbia can waltz in here and just throw up some complete garbage, they should just sell the property now to another developer because that just IS NOT going to happen! They should go trash Kennessaw or North Cobb because we are looking for something more upscale, period.

That's a prime spot, and other developers will make it look nice if Columbia can't.
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