MARIETTA — The Cobb Board of Commissioners agreed on Tuesday to stand by its previous position in objecting to the city of Marietta annexing a proposed development by Traton Homes.
Traton Homes is seeking annexation into Marietta as it eyes a nearly 7.5-acre property near the corner of Lower Roswell Road and the Loop. Traton initially proposed 62 townhomes and one detached house for the site, with a density of 8.56 units per acre. Revised site plans have brought the counts down to 37 townhomes and 15 detached residences for a density of 6.95 units per acre.
It’s the density of the proposed project on which the county had crafted its objection of the annexation, citing state law giving the county the right to raise concerns if the density exceeds five units an acre.
“In this particular instance, if it were five units to the acre or greater in a residential proposal, the county had a very definable right to object,” County Manager Rob Hosack said. “We believe we exercised that right to object in both the letters (to the city) we sent in January and February.”
Hosack outlined the timeline regarding the proposed annexation, starting with the Jan. 2 letter the county received from Marietta on its proposed annexation and rezoning. The county responded Jan. 10 with a notice of intent to object to the annexation signed by all five commissioners.
On Feb. 1, a notice of objection signed by three commissioners — Bob Ott, Keli Gambrill and Chairman Mike Boyce — was sent to the city of Marietta.
Ott last week said county staff did not put the letter on the agenda for full commission approval the first meeting of January, so it became invalid under state law.
Hosack while speaking to commissioners Tuesday said uncertainties over whether the county had a valid objection had held the item off the board agenda, which led to the failure to meet a deadline in the objection process. But Hosack said the county’s position is that both letters highlighting the county’s objection to the annexation are valid.
“Both of the letters were prepared in a similar format to all of our letters and correspondence that we have in accordance with our intergovernmental agreements with all of our cities,” he said. “We do believe that both letters clearly stated the county’s intent to object to the rezoning and annexation proposal.”
Ott, whose district includes the Lower Roswell Road area, said keeping the objections in place is likely to derail the annexation, basing the assertion on comments made by Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin, who told the MDJ last week that the objection filed by the county stands and that to move forward, the county would have to retract its objection.
“There is no doubt on the city’s mind the county’s position, which is a clear indication of the community’s position, that the county is in objection to the required annexation. The city clearly has stated, through the mayor, that they received the objection, they consider it valid, and they are not moving forward as long as the objection letter is in place,” Ott said.
Both Lisa Cupid and JoAnn Birrell, the latter of whom was leading the meeting in Chairman Mike Boyce’s absence, voiced during Tuesday’s meeting their support of the county’s continued objection to the annexation. Neither had signed the Feb. 1 letter that had been sent to Marietta.
Boyce Tuesday was attending the American Water Works Association Conference in Denver as part of the Cobb Marietta Water Authority, according to his office.
COMMUNITY WEIGHS IN
Among the concerns of community members opposing the project were its density and potential traffic tie-ups that having two governments providing services in the area could cause, such as Marietta City Schools buses adding to the existing county school bus traffic.
As Theresa Gernatt, a Sewell Manor resident, had encouraged during a community meeting last week, those who came to bring awareness of the annexation matter wore yellow and/or brought yellow signs to be more visible to county commissioners. Yellow is a typical color for signs placed on properties going through zoning or annexation matters.
Gernatt had also been among the half dozen residents who addressed commissioners on the matter at Tuesday’s meeting.
Also speaking was Tom Jordan, a lawyer who resides off Lower Roswell Road between the Loop and Terrell Mill Park, whose suit was complemented by a yellow tie.
“It’s flat-out irresponsible to put this type of development at this location. You’re asking for a pedestrian fatality,” Jordan said. “I don’t know how many pedestrians have been killed trying to cross South Cobb Drive — you’re going to create a similar situation on Lower Roswell if this development goes forward.”
As reported by the MDJ in April, there have been double digit pedestrian deaths from traffic wrecks in the county each year from 2013 to 2017, with a total of 74 pedestrians killed on Cobb’s streets within that period, according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.