The development on a 53.7-acre property off Roswell Road adjacent to East Cobb Park is scheduled to go before the Cobb Planning Commissioner on Oct. 1.
Jill Flamm, president of the East Cobb Civic Association, which represents about 9,000 homeowners, said her group opposes the development.
“We cannot support the (development) as proposed and are recommending denial,” Flamm said.
Robert Burke of east Cobb, a software engineer with a child at East Side Elementary School, is part of another newly formed group that is circulating a petition against the development with more than 700 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, said of the 180 people at a recent town hall forum, only two supported the development in a straw poll.
“Clearly there are a lot of folks that have taken an interest in it and a lot of people are involved, which I think is positive,” Ott said.
The economic downturn is one reason there hasn’t been this level of interest in a zoning request in east Cobb in years, Ott said.
“There just hasn’t been a lot of zoning, and this really is probably one of the larger if not largest zoning requests there has been for east Cobb,” he said.
A walled city in east Cobb?
Flamm listed building height as one of the reasons her group opposes the development.
“They’re four stories plus one of parking, and that is just way too intense for this residential area,” Flamm said. “The topography of land doesn’t support this. You can get tall buildings if they’re in a hole, but this isn’t the case. This is going to look from the outside community like a walled city.”
Another objection is that Isakson Living wants to build out the units over a 10-year span.
“That means the neighbors will have 10 years of construction traffic, construction noise, that’s a long period of time,” she said.
Burke is part of the group circulating the petition called Concerned Citizens over Isakson Living East Cobb.
Burke said the plan amounts to a very large apartment complex.
“They’re cramming 987 units into these five-story buildings on a relatively small piece of land, relative to the number of units they’re putting in, so basically creating a massive density that’s very urban like in the middle of our suburban community,” he said.
Isakson Living is owned by the brother of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Andy Isakson. The senator’s son, Kevin Isakson, is the company’s sales and marketing director. Kevin Isakson said his father, is not involved in the development.
Kevin Isakson said he’s made it a point to meet with as many homeowner associations and civic groups in the area as he is able to let them know of his plans. He also said he was listening to the feedback.
No line in the sand
“No, we haven’t drawn a line in the sand,” Isakson said. “We’ve heard concerns the community has expressed, we’ve also acknowledged as have they the areas we have common ground such as the use and respect of the park and general green space, and it’s our goal to try to evaluate our plan as it relates to their concerns and see where we can address it further,” he said.
As for the 10-year build out, one point to realize is the property will eventually be developed by someone and whoever does the building will do it over an extended period of time, he said. But his company’s plan is to build “with care and concern” since it would be done in phases around the seniors who move in first.
“As it relates to height, we are reevaluating our plans, we do have significant buffering, in some areas upwards of 400 feet between us and the park and 150 to 200 feet between us and adjoining property owners and that’s undisturbed area,” Isakson said. “We are preserving about 20 acres of the site as undisturbed green space.
After the development is voted on by the Planning Commission, it is scheduled to be heard by the Board of Commissioners for final approval or rejection on Oct. 15.
If approved, construction could begin next summer at the earliest, with the first part of the development to possibly open in the spring of 2016. One-, two- and three-bedroom homes for seniors ages 62 and older are planned.
Homes will range from 1,800 square feet to 2,500 square feet.
Isakson anticipates 240 homes will be built in the first phase, complemented by about 75,000 square feet of amenity space for dining, fitness and other activities.
The model Isakson Living is using is similar to the 398-unit senior development it built in Stone Mountain in 2004 called Park Springs.
“We want to be sure that folks are aware of the things that our initial plan does have that address those issues, but we’ve heard those concerns consistently, and we’re looking now at our plan to see where they can be addressed,” Isakson said of the objections raised.