Isakson Living resubmits request for senior development
by Jon Gillooly
November 07, 2013 01:54 AM | 2942 views | 12 12 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Buckhead-based Isakson Living on Tuesday resubmitted its request to rezone a 54 acre east Cobb property just days before the Board of Commissioners is set to vote on a moratorium freezing the zoning category sought by the company.

The earliest the Cobb Planning Commission would consider a vote on the rezoning request is February, said Kevin Isakson, director of sales and marketing for Isakson Living.

After mounting opposition to his proposed development by such groups as the East Cobb Civic Association, Isakson Living withdrew its zoning request last month.

The original plan would have built a $200 million senior residential development on property off Roswell Road adjacent to East Cobb Park. The plan submitted Tuesday reduces the number of proposed housing units from 987 to 843.

Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, said he was taken by surprise that Isakson Living filed a new plan. Ott hasn’t taken a position on the merits of the development, but says he is not pleased by the process Isakson Living has gone about in seeking its request.

“I’m disappointed in the fact that we were told, both myself and the community, that we would have a chance to see the plan and comment on it before they ever filed, and none of that happened,” Ott said Wednesday.

Jill Flamm, president of the East Cobb Civic Association, which represents about 9,000 homeowners, echoed Ott’s comments.

“First off, we’re disappointed they didn’t come to the community like they had promised before they had filed it,” Flamm said. “We will take a position on the new one, but we don’t have enough information to form a position at this point.”

After Isakson Living withdrew its plan last month, Ott said he and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell began receiving letters from residents asking that the requested zoning category, called Continuing Care Retirement Community, be reviewed and revised.

Ott said the committee that developed that zoning category did so when he served on the Planning Commission prior to his election to the Board of Commissioners in 2008. The plan was to bring that committee back to look at tweaking the category, Ott said.

County spokesman Robert Quigley confirmed that county staff would request that the Board of Commissioners place a moratorium on the zoning category at next week’s board meeting, while the committee considered revisions.

Quigley said because Isakson Living filed its rezoning request this week, any moratorium adopted next week would not impact it.

Isakson, son of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, said he was aware the county was eyeing the existing code.

“I didn’t know for a fact that there would be a moratorium, but I was aware that was going to be taken up and certainly that a part of our planning process is putting our plans out there and being certain that we’re able to preserve our right under the existing code as it currently stands,” Isakson said.

The original plan called for 837 independent living units and 150 health care units. The new plan calls for 749 independent living units and 94 healthcare units with one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes for seniors ages 62 and older.

Floor plans are projected to range from 900 square feet to 2,500.

The original plan called for buildings of four stories built on top of a parking garage.

“Now we’ve located all the parking underground. None of the parking will be exposed,” Isakson said. “The tallest buildings remain four stories, but what’s different is that we focused that in the middle of the site, and we’ve focused on the buildings on the perimeter, specifically Roswell Road and Hidden Hollow, we’ve reduced those heights to two and three stories.”

Comments
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Elizabeth A
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November 11, 2013
Realist,

Please accept my apology if my comments were offensive to you in any way. I respect the points you make and your right to express them freely.
Elizabeth A
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November 08, 2013
Perhaps if Isakson Living had not come in pressing the code to its maximum allowable density right out of the gate in a low density residential area surrounded by neighborhoods, they may not be in this situation. No one is against this proposal because it is for seniors or the elderly, that is a ridiculous statement. A smaller type RSL is completely acceptable for this land use according to the existing code. The issues have always been and continue to be about the density and the mammoth size of the development in relation to where it is located. If we are truthful with ourselves, none of us would want an 800 unit apartment in our own backyard, seniors or not.

One $200 million dollar facility in East Cobb is not going to answer the problem of helping seniors find affordable places to live and stay in Cobb County as they age. We want to pretend it is because that makes for good PR and lets us feel good about what we have done. We need to think in broader terms about creating smaller more affordable RSL living facilities that fit within the current land uses in all areas of Cobb.
East Cobb Realist
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November 08, 2013
If we're going to be honest, let's face it - the project didn't have your support regardless of the density with it being in "your back yard" (Ms Tritt may take some issue with that description but we won't get into that here). I do think your perception of the projects appearance is off. From the pictures I've seen it looks pretty nice and will need to be to attract buyers. Indeed, residents may very be well be of the opinion that its you dragging the neighborhood down but I expect will put up with it nonetheless, no offense intended.

But all that is beside the point. What it comes down to is the alternatives. Would you rather it be a 200 home subdivision? Maybe you would. Other people with concerns different from yours may view it differently. I, for one, don't want to see that due to the increased burden it will place on the schools. Class sizes have gotten too large as it is. The important part is that we all have a clear understanding as to what the options are.

I agree about the need for more choices and I have to assume is the genesis of their proposal. There is opportunity for more and creating more choices for seniors is a good thing. There isn't much to choose from today.

RuleOfLaw
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November 07, 2013
All this talk about bluffs, coached letters, greed and backdoor tactics is truly entertaining but in the end is just peripheral noise. At its core what this is about is an individuals right to sell their property for a use they perceive will meet a significant need of the community. Plain and simple. We have a willing seller and a willing buyer, engaging in an arms length transaction. Project plans are within the zoning that is sought. I might add that the willing buyer is a respected, local developer with extensive experience and knowledge with this type of development and market. As to the the impact such proposed development has on the area such as traffic, visual, schools, etc is a matter for debate and must be considered relative to the most likely alternative use. One who is objective and intellectually honest with what the alternatives are I believe would conclude that the development as proposed by Isakson is good for East Cobb.
AndyPandy
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November 08, 2013
What happens if the Isaksons have overestimated the demand by senior citizens for an upscale senior living community? I am almost 60 years old and I would never consider living in a 4-story, Georgia-dome-sized community like that, and I could actually afford it. What will they do with it if they can't sell the units to seniors? Turn it into an apartment complex? This project just doesn't fit well with our community. This is a low density residential area. There are other places where the Isakson group could build and I wish they would go elsewhere.
anonymous
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November 07, 2013
The elderly have paid their share. America has no respect for the elderly. These are the grandparents of ours. They have paid their taxes and if you have children in schools, you pay for them!!!!

The elderly are our precious jewels who have lived through life and now it is our times to give back to them. Some of you selfish individuals have grandparents watching your children because you made poor choices n life. We should do all we can to help our elderly and I am only 32 years old.
John Galt
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November 07, 2013
I hope they are paying school tax!
Senior 66
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November 09, 2013
Cobb County has courted seniors over 62 by offering them a tax system that allows them to own homes without paying the school tax. Everything I have read says that Isakson living will pay over $700,000 in school taxes alone without adding to the already crowded neighborhood schools. All this while still preserving a huge amount of green space. I don't understand why there is so much opposition. Still think folks better be careful what they wish for. And....why aren't our Commissioners advocating for the seniors who have voted for them and helped build this county???
Dave Z
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November 07, 2013
Isakson Living had every intention of letting the community review the new plan before submitting. BUT then Ott and Birrell went on the offensive and planned a preemptive strike on Isakson Living by placing a moratorium and likely later changing (not just "tweaking") the zoning they sought.

I generally like Bob Ott, but for him to act pious and offended about Isakson Living submitting their plan is ridiculous. Ott and Birrell forced their hand. The promised process could not play out because Ott and Birrell barreled forward with a disingenuous backdoor tactic. Any wise business would do the same if faced with the same, obviously biased situation. Plain and simple, this "sudden" submission by Isakson Living was set in motion by the previous, even more sudden actions of Ott and Birrell.

@ Dave Z
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November 07, 2013
You absolutely nailed it. Ott is seeking cover via the moratorium so he won't have to vote against the project. In this instance, Ott, along with Birrell, attempted a chicken maneuver and blinked.

The project makes sense for the East Cobb. Though limited to senior living, no senior homestead exemption is applicable so the improved property will actually generate property tax revenue for Cobb schools without adding students to schools already at full capacity.

Today, the property generates about $500 in property tax for the county, none for schools. That's not a typo.

At an estimated $200,000,000 project value, about $1,500,000 in property tax revenue would be generated then split at roughly 65% for schools and 35% for county services.
anonymous
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November 07, 2013
The timing of this reapplication comes just one day after Wylene Tritt's obviously coached letter to the editor.

I'm sorry Ms. Tritt, I like you and believe you mean only the best for your land and for Cobb, but the planners of this development are scheming to get away with something no other developer could slide by in Cobb. GO WITH THE LAND USE PLAN! We need senior housing of high quality, but not a monster development that's going to dominate the entire area!!!! Greed is what's driving this density, nothing less. They could do the project with far less units, but they want to get rich on this one. I feel sorry for Bob Ott, because they are going to pressure him into wavering from what he knows is right for the county. Hold fast Bob. NO special treatment for Isakson!!!
itll be franklin rd
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November 07, 2013
I figure Isakson is just fronting with bluffs about East Cobb.

He surely plans to build on Franklin Rd, which is why he had his flunkies running PR for the Franklin Rd tax. A lot of our $68 million will probably go to some DBA corp run by Isakson or his people for building the old folks home.

But will Kennesaw State University squeeze Isakson out of his own scheme? Stay tuned!!!!
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