DELAYED: Kennesaw annexation, rezoning pushed back after resident outcry
by Haisten Willis
June 17, 2014 04:00 AM | 4349 views | 3 3 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Garvis Sams
Garvis Sams
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Mark Mathews
Mark Mathews
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KENNESAW — A potential new development in Kennesaw has been delayed after its city council voted 5-0 Monday night to delay an annexation and rezoning vote on propery at the northwest corner of Cobb and Barrett Parkways.

The proposed $40 million development would include 328 new apartments and 49 townhomes on 32 acres, according to Garvis Sams, an attorney with Marietta-based Sams, Larkin, Huff and Balli, LP. Sams represents Amak Partners, L.P. and Masal Partners Ltd. L.P. of Vancouver, Canada, who are selling the property. Sams said there is a large amount of interest in the development, although no company has come forward to actually buy the land.

During public comment, nearly a dozen residents of Castle Lake Mobile Home Park — who would be dispersed to make way for the new construction — told the council the property owners had deceived them and the proposed $2,500 relocation money wouldn’t be enough to haul their trailers to another area.

Residents shared horror stories about the landowners. Several said they’d received notices saying they had 30 days to leave their homes. Cindy Blackford, who works at Northern Tool and Equipment in Marietta, said she bought a $15,000 trailer in Castle Lake on May 5, and management did not mention anything about moving or a new development.

“Castle Lake outright lied to everyone here,” she said. “Our neighbors flooded us with information. Castle Lake hid it.”

Several speakers said it would cost between $6,000 and $8,000 to move their trailers to another park. Some asked if they’d be evicted after the required 60 days’ notice if they couldn’t afford to move.

Juanita Billingsley, a housewife who has lived in Castle Lake 37 years, said she’d had a mild stroke that morning but checked out of WellStar Kennestone hospital to make sure she could be heard at the meeting.

Dozens of families live in the property’s 320 mobile homes, many of whom are Spanish-speaking Latino residents. An interpreter was present at the meeting, which drew more than 100 people from the community. Attendees were asked to stand up if they agreed with the person speaking, and almost everyone in the room stood up at several points.

After being asked several questions about the treatment of tenants by Castle Lake, Sams responded that he’s only representing the company regarding the new development and has no knowledge of the management situation.

One site, two developments

Sams said there is no construction timeline for the potential development because no one has purchased the property, but added that more than 13 builders are interested and said plans call for the owners to sell the property “as soon as they can.” Kennesaw’s Planning Commission voted 5-0 to rezone the property on June 9.

The annexation of the additional 32 acres would have meant the entire Castle Lake Mobile Home Park would fall inside Kennesaw’s city limits.

The proposed development sits adjacent to a 53-acre property annexed into the city by a unanimous vote in February, which will be developed by Atlanta-based Fuqua Development. That property will become a 450,000-square-foot shopping center — valued at $150 million and anchored by Whole Foods Market — Sams said will open no later than fall 2016. Sams said Fuqua will close on the property this fall, with major construction commencing in summer 2015.

However, Sams said Fuqua will work with Castle Lake tenants on an individual basis on that side of the property, rather than paying a flat rate.

During his presentation to the council, Sams said the new townhomes will sell for at least $300,000, while the apartments could be owner-occupied condominiums in the future, with nine-foot-high ceilings and granite countertops. Sams said previously they are mostly one or two-bedroom apartments meant to attract young professionals without school-aged children.

Sams said the two projects combined will generate more than $1 million in annual tax revenue for Kennesaw, compared to the current mobile home park which contributes “negligible” tax dollars.

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said the property owner requested the annexation.

Council hits the brakes

Following the lengthy public comment, city council members were less than pleased, including Post 2’s Tim Killingsworth.

“Mr. Sams, I hope and I pray that if something illegal is happening, somebody is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Post 4 representative Debra Williams specifically asked that the property owner and property manager be present when the issue comes before the council again. The annexation was tabled indefinitely, but the council asked for an update on the situation from the company at their next meeting July 7. When the council hears the proposal again, more public comment will be taken.

Comments
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J. Rutenberg
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June 17, 2014
I lived in this community a while back,I moved out because they were charging me outrageous water fees when my family was only 4 people total. I expressed my discontent to the manager and never got anywhere it was allways fights . This park is been neglected since i can remember the streets are cracked and they cut your water whenever they want to fix problems( my water heater element went out because of that) When I talked to the owner about my bill I told him that I was going to call Channel 2 I Team to investigate and his response was " I will change your meter and not charge you for this months bill, I only ask you not to make any noise " I also told him I was going to make a list with resident's signatures with the same problem and he was scared. I am not for putting all these people out on the street what I do know is that there is allways a Mafia behind this . The city of Kennessaw wants their million dollars a year tax and the builder want to make their money for retirement and the owner doesn't give a rat's behind about the residents( I know that for a fact

I lived there and screamed at managment and the owner for a reason). So that only leaves hard working people in the midde. So for the first three groups I hope one day the tables can turn around and see the reality, and for the tenants I really wish you all the best and hope everybody finds a home.
Foster Ashe
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June 17, 2014
I've never heard of apartments becoming "owner-occupied condominiums in the future" as Garvis Sams suggests might be the case. While that may happen in other parts of the country, I've never heard of that happening here and would be inclined to think Garvis is trying to disguise the fact that the City of Kennesaw, once again, is pushing for more apartments.

Is their new downtown apartment development not enough?

Does Mark Matthews not read this newspaper?

Is he not aware of the problems in the Six Flags area and on Franklin Road that are caused by excessive and concentrated apartments?

The City of Smyrna and the City of Marietta have bought up apartment complexes and razed them to eliminate blight and yet Mark and Company are giddy about the notion of even more apartments for Kennesaw.

Near this property, there are already many apartment complexes and at least one of them is a Section 8 apartment complex. That property was once the darling of City planners hyped as a radical "live, work, play" community; as a model for the future. However, the reality has fallen far short of the hype with reality being nothing more than more high density housing with Section 8 tenants.

This area has great potential for middle or higher-end single-family residential properties given its proximity to Kennesaw Mountain, the Marietta Country Club, and the Town Center area. City leaders with more foresight would insist on a quality development that would be an asset for years to come rather than more apartments that will put the area on the path to follow Six Flags, Franklin Road, etc. and become a future haven for crime and a headache for a future mayor, Council, and most importantly, police chief.

Mr. Matthews, please insist on better for this site and for your city.

Cobb County and Helen Goreham have been insisting on quality developments in West Cobb and just because you hold the power of annexation and can annex this parcel for another high density use does not mean it is the prudent thing to do. I would urge you to resist the certian lure of more tax revenue and help, rather than hinder, the County's efforts to keep West Cobb a nice place to live.

Debra Williams
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June 19, 2014
Mr. Ashe: I would like to invite you to our Work Sessions and Council Meetings so you can hear what each member is discussing. I would also invite you to sit down with the new Council Members and learn who they are since it's not the same Council as in prior years. Not everything is written in news reports, which doesn't give you the complete picture. You are welcome to contact me at 404-849-0948 or at my city email address. dwilliams@kennesaw-ga.gov. I would love to see more citizens engaged. There are many meetings where the Council Chambers are filled with only staff and four or five citizens and we're discussing and making decisions for an entire city. The agenda can be found on our website: www.kennesaw-ga.gov
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