Kennesaw OKs rezoning for development despite protests
by Rachel Gray
February 18, 2014 04:00 AM | 7670 views | 13 13 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Monday night, the Kennesaw City Council voted 5-0 to both rezone the land for a proposed $150 million commercial development and to annex the property into the city limits. Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, above, said Atlanta-based Fuqua Development has the site under contract and knows the market through demographic studies, so the developer will decide what mix of stores would work best. Staff/Jeff Stanton
On Monday night, the Kennesaw City Council voted 5-0 to both rezone the land for a proposed $150 million commercial development and to annex the property into the city limits. Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, above, said Atlanta-based Fuqua Development has the site under contract and knows the market through demographic studies, so the developer will decide what mix of stores would work best. Staff/Jeff Stanton
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KENNESAW — More than 50 adults, many with their young children, tried to stop a proposed $150 million commercial development during Monday’s Kennesaw City Council meeting.

The proposed 52-acre development is targeted for the northwest corner of Barrett and Cobb parkways.

Atlanta-based Fuqua Development plans to close at least part of the Castle Lake Mobile Home Park, which sits on the site and serves as home to dozens of families.

In December, Fuqua filed papers with Kennesaw seeking to rezone the property from a county residential mobile home park to a city planned village community.

On Monday night, the Kennesaw City Council voted 5-0 to both rezone the land and annex the property into the city limits.

An additional 34 acres of the mobile home park, west of the proposed development, would stay county property and remain owned by Castle Lake Mobile Home Park.

Attorney Garvis Sams, of the Marietta-based firm Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli, LLP that represents Fuqua, said he believes that 34 acres will most likely be redeveloped and brought into the city limits in the future.

This first project would break ground in six months and open in the spring of 2016, Sams told the council.

Developer to plan the space

Mayor Mark Mathews said Fuqua has the site under contract and knows the market through demographic studies, so the developer will decide what mix of stores would work best.

The massive mixed-use project would include 450,000 square feet of retail space and 30 townhomes on the western side of the property, said Bob Fox, the city’s economic development director.

The townhomes would be purchased, not rented.

Whole Foods Market has agreed to anchor the large shopping complex. There is also space designated for a sporting goods store, with room to add a drug store, casual dining restaurants, specialty retail shops, office space and even a gas station, Sams said.

Fuqua has agreed to stipulations that pawn shops, thrift stores and tattoo parlors would not be allowed.

As a life-long Cobb resident, Sams said he is an advocate for this particular plan for the site.

“My wife wants to see a Whole Foods more than you can possibly imagine,” Sams said.

Mathews said neither the City Council nor the Kennesaw Development Authority have any plans to offer tax abatements or other monetary incentives to the developer or the businesses planning to lease space.

If any requests are made, including to the KDA, Mathews said he and the City Council would have to approve the deals.

Residents hold on to American Dream

Some of Monday night’s speakers made their statements in Spanish, with a city-provided interpreter translating the pleas of people who have invested their life savings to purchase and repair homes in Castle Lake.

A mother of two daughters, Jacqueline Lopez, 29, began to cry when she told the council their “American dream was being taken away.”

One man, Joaquin Banuelos, 22, who has lived at Castle Lake for over 10 years, said Fuqua’s plan sounds like a great benefit to the “millionaire” developer, but where does it leave the tight-knit Latino community?

“I don’t even know where I am going to go next,” Banuelos said.

Because he is “poor,” Banuelos said he is worried his words would not mean anything to the councilmembers.

“We work for you, the millionaire people,” said Banuelos, who works in the construction industry.

Councilman Jim Sebastian, who moved to Cobb in 1976 and is an owner of a consulting and brokering firm which specializes in retail service contracts, said development of the land is part of the city’s expansion strategy.

Sebastian said the city has asked the Castle Lake Mobile Home Park property owners to consider annexation for at least three years, with limited feedback until a year ago.

The Kennesaw Planning Commission, at a Feb. 5 meeting, voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the annexation, with a condition requiring Fuqua to submit a relocation plan to move existing residents prior to construction beginning.

Where’s the relocation plan?

Although most of the speakers from Castle Lake came to object to the project, many said they realized the commercial development would not be stopped.

The consistent question became, if the development has been planned for years, why were the mobile park residents only informed of the sale now and why is the relocation plan not finalized?

Sebastian said the exchange of the property was between two private companies, and if the development had been residential and remained part of the county, the deal would never have been reviewed by the Kennesaw City Council.

Monday’s public hearing about the rezoning and annexation was a benefit to homeowners in Castle Lake, Sebastian said.

“It gives them time to voice their concerns,” he said.

Mathews said the council was not aware the management of Castle Lake had not communicated the plan to sell the land until recently.

The mayor said the city made every effort to inform the residents about Monday’s meeting.

Mathews gave his word Monday night that from this point forward the Castle Lake families would be treated fairly and be placed in a better living situation than the one in which they are currently living.

“I can assure you the buyer will be working with residents very, very closely,” Mathews said.

Jeff Fuqua, who formed Fuqua Development, LP in March 2012, attended Monday’s public hearing.

After talking with his client, Sams said Fuqua would form a committee this spring to start relocation assistance on a family by family basis.

Comments
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Concerned in Kennesa
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June 10, 2014
UPDATE 6/10/14: In an article of 5/22/14, titled "Sprawled Out in Atlanta – Rebecca Burns – POLITICO Magazine", found at: http://slinkingtowardretirement.com/?p=188684 it was reported that residents of the MHP have already been given 30 day letters to leave.

There is no relocation package in place now, so far that option is only an empty promise. It seems to me that the August Closing on the property was delayed so that the MHP can clean out that sold section so when/if Fuqua comes in he will not have the expense to provide such a relocation service to very many residents.

In other words the Canadian owners are doing some of the dirty work for Fuqua. This is a very unsavory bunch that the MHP residents have to deal with.
momcomment
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February 20, 2014
My grandfather and father started a mobile home park in 1954 in NY state on part of the Farm land my Grandmother bought in 1934. New York has much tougher rental laws, all together than Georgia and especially with regard to Mobile Home Parks. No one can rent a mobile home in a mobile home park in NY. They can only rent the spots. In New York in any complex that has more than 9 units on site the owner or a full time superintend must live on site. The Mobile home parks in New York are highly regulated and not allowed to fall into disrepair like the ones in Georgia. They also can not be parked one on top of another and must be on foundations like a house.

My father died 4 years ago. He refused to sell the mobile home park before he died. It is now in a Family trust, which my mother only has a living use of the asset's income. Until a month ago she had lived at the back of the park with aides, but she had to be put in Memory care at 88 a month ago. My brother luckily bought a manufactured house and lives on site.) Once my mother dies, the Mobile Home park goes to the trust which gets divided 4 ways.

My mother for 58 years resented my father that she had to live their and could not have a nice big house on other property we owned. Last week in my conversation with her, she is convinced that someone ,my sister got rid of her house the mobile home park. I told her don't worry it is still their. How do you know, I said I am a co-executor with her, Daddy set that up and she can't sell it, without me signing off, and then she would have to get two other votes.

I suspect the Castle Mobile Home Park that has been around a similar time has had a similar situation. My father and his friends who were also his age group that started these in the 50's thought they were pioneers in affordable housing industry. They went to conventions every year. We were dragged to Mobile Home factories during the 60's and 70's on vacations so he could right off the trips.

My families mobile home park is still mostly middle class. Mostly retired now. He had strict rules, he kicked many out. Their are no illegals in my families park. You have to pass a background check, no Felons, no misdemeanors.
Mark Mathews
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February 19, 2014
Such a great development. This will clean up this blighted area!
Mr Woodgett
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February 18, 2014
The development sounds like a great plan even though there are many areas of the city that deserve an update besides another shopping center. The city needs to improvise on the old country town ideas into prosperity. What happened to the southeast corner of kennesaw due west and cobb pkwy?
mr woodgett
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February 18, 2014
Correction Southwest corner of cobb and kennesaw due west
double standard
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February 18, 2014
Kennesaw kicked out a "pawn shop" at Mack Dobbs/41 only to let an Instaloan step right in it's place. Aren't they the same thing? Who knows who?
Kennesaw2014
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February 18, 2014
All the info you could want on that property, even back to photos of it being built are at: http://kennesawpawnproblems.blogspot.com/ and other info on the Pawn Shop owner is at: http://johncruchelow.blogspot.com/
anonymous
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February 18, 2014
Excellent!
Joshua G.
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February 18, 2014
I am happy about it. This is only 2 miles from my house, and in light of the whole area being taken over my apartments, this will be a breath of fresh air for the area.
Westcobberguy
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February 18, 2014
Here's the thing - that area of Kennesaw is already "cooked" and completely saturated with traffic. Adding one more shopping center isn't going to make it any worse than it already is - local parents toting their toddlers should have been at meetings about 15 years ago to prevent that area from becoming what it *already* is today - this one is far too little far too late to make any difference even if they could stop it.

Now, I live in West Cobb. Whole Foods has completely ignored this area so far. Will I drive up to that congested area just to go to a grocery store no matter how good it is? No. So they're still going to be catering to just a narrow group of Kennesaw residents or those who pass right by that area to and from work. I'm not one of those people. Whole Foods needs to come out to Hiram or Douglasville for my money if they want it.

But again - protest when you want to keep an area from becoming what that stretch of Kennesaw already IS... not to stop 1 new shopping center in an area that already has 50 of them - you're not doing anything.
scary?
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February 18, 2014
The real story here is this: big business trumps all else. Forget about people. They don't matter. This sort of thing could happen to any one of us, that is the lesson we should take away from this article.
Kennesaw 2014
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February 18, 2014
1) Although the matter of development has been 'under consideration' for over 4 years, it only came to the public's attention 35 days ago,

2) Castle Lake residents are being left to the tender mercies of Fuqua and lawyer Sams. Fuqua I would remind you is called "Atlanta's Most Controversial Developer"*, and Sams is the same lawyer that had his client of 2004 agree to 'stipulations' NOT to put a pawn shop on a piece of property to be rezoned in North Kennesaw. Despite assurances of NO pawn shop, 8 yrs later one was put in and when Kennesaw required it to move Sams and his client sued the City and got a settlement, this despite Sams and client having authored the agreement NOT to put in a pawn shop at that strip mall.

The Council approval has given away any leverage the City might have had to see that a decent 'relocation plan' was put into place for Castle Lake residents.
Marti 76 years young
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April 24, 2014
I have been reading these comments about the option to 'put us out of our home' but no one has given a specific when? I believe that we as tenants of the Castle Lake Mobile Home Community, are to receive a 60 day notice to leave or to re-locate. If the land developer would just give us a date to re-locate, it would be appreciated. As for me, I have been given the opportunity to move to another place and I have lived here in my home for over 12 and 1/2 years. Only 2 miles from work.
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