Commissioners approved changes to future land use plans for an area south of Old Highway 41 and east of Kennesaw Avenue, near Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. They also tightened up residential requirements for land in Vinings, while keeping area around a new senior living center for residential use.
By a 5-0 vote, commissioners voted to change the future zoning for 8.5 acres that is currently zoned for a strip shopping center on the north side of Old Highway 41, south of the CSX railroad tracks and east of White Road.
Cobb planning division manager Dana Johnson said traffic concerns, due to heavy truck and rail usage in the area, mean it would be better zoned to allow for something that doesn’t draw as many people coming and going, such as “clean” industrial, medical offices, medical instrument manufacturing or storage.
“These uses can be performed internally, within a structure, and therefore, will not have a major residual impact on this tract’s transition from the primarily industrial usage to the east and the residential and recreational uses to the south and west,” Johnson said.
While she was pleased that the county was taking these steps, Andrea Klevens, a resident of the nearby Gates at Parkside Village subdivision, said she would like to see traffic signal improvements, as well as a reduced speed limit and a crosswalk making it easier for residents to reach the battlefield park. She also suggested that the county ban trucks over eight tons from using Kennesaw Avenue, which the city of Marietta has done on its portion of the road.
“Residents are concerned about the possibility of respiratory issues developing over time, due to black diesel emissions, and are having their nights disturbed by heavy trucks hauling materials after midnight,” she said. “These concerns are not just about aesthetics, but are about the danger of being hit by one of these large trucks as they travel too quickly around the curb and down our small road.”
Commissioner Helen Goreham, who represents the area of the proposed changes, said that, after meeting with residents, Cobb Department of Transportation has agreed to “rapid response” improvements along Kennesaw Avenue, including upgrading traffic control devices and possible crosswalks.
“We are looking at a comprehensive analysis of the traffic in that area,” she said. “We are aware of the concerns that the community has there and we will be addressing them in a short-term immediate program and in a long-term study and review, so that safety is of the utmost importance, but also the fact that our industrial community needs to get their products to market and also get their materials to them.”
By a 5-0 vote, commissioners also approved changes that will allow for most of 67.68 acres north of Paces Ferry Road and east of Atlanta Road in Vinings to be changed to low-density residential, meaning that no more than 2.5 homes can be built per acre. An exception was made for 13 acres of the site that is owned by a 101-year old woman, after her family requested that it remain medium density residential, which can have up to five houses per acre.
Commissioner Bob Ott, who suggested the comprehensive plan amendment, said the change will allow for less new traffic along Atlanta Road. He was OK with leaving the small portion as medium density because streams and buffer areas on the property will limit the number of homes that can be built there.
Commissioners also agreed with the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny a land use change for area around a senior living development near the intersection of Lower Roswell Road and Cove Drive, near the James E. Quarles Water Treatment Plant. The 5-0 vote prevented the area around the senior facility to be changed to a commercial zoning.
Ott, who represents the area, said the area around the site is residential, and commissioners allowed the change for the senior development in December 2010, because developers agreed to build the senior living facility to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. But, when a change that is contrary to the area’s land use map is made like that, the planning department is required to automatically bring it before commissioners to see if they want to make further changes in the area.
Commissioners did approve a change to the land use map near the intersection of the Windy Hill-Macland Road Connector and Austell Road, west of Smyrna, by a 5-0 vote. Johnson said that a QuikTrip convenience store has already been approved for nearby, but the land use change allows for a transition from residential to commercial areas.
The new plan would allow for commercial development aimed at the surrounding neighborhood, which includes small offices and grocery stores. It had been designed as a destination for people in a larger area.
One resident spoke up in opposition to the change. Mary Stewart said the area already has high traffic because of Milford Elementary School
“If this would create more traffic, then it seems to be a problem for the children and the school,” she said. “There’s already so much stuff that’s been dumped on south Cobb.”
Commission Chairman Tim Lee said the new designation would actually mean less potential traffic than if a development would go in under current zoning.
“There’s a lot of folks concerned about Milford, as we are, and the safety of those children,” Lee told Stewart.
Meanwhile, construction has yet to start on the QuikTrip, planned for the north side of Windy Hill Road between Austell Road and Arkose Drive, even though commissioners approved it in April 2011. Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for the Tulsa, Okla.-based chain, said no timetable had been set for the store’s construction.
But when the store does open, it will be a “Generation 3” location. The news stores take up 5,700 square feet, compared to 4,600 square feet for a current store.
It will also have an area where employees prepare custom-made hot and cold beverages, as well as soft serve ice cream, for customers, Thornbrugh said. While current QuikTrip stores have one main entrance, the new store will have two front entrances, as well as two side entrances.
“It really spreads out the traffic, both in terms of vehicles and pedestrians,” he said.
The meeting was part of the county’s annual changes to its comprehensive plan. The changes are largely designed to see if the long-term plan needs to be changed because of planning changes commissioners have made in the past year.