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A developer wants to build a 150-unit town home community adjacent to the old Marietta Flea Market property now owned by the city, but the city's planning commission recommended 140 units.

A planned town home development set to go in behind the city-owned former Marietta Flea Market property will move forward despite a disagreement between the developer and the planning commission on how many homes it should contain.

Atlanta-based Revive Land Group hopes to build a 150-unit town home community off Wylie Road near Franklin Gateway and adjacent to the old flea market property, now owned by the city.

That many homes on a property of just over 12 acres would give the development a density of 12.4 units per acre, slightly higher than other town home developments approved by the city. The highest density town home community is the Registry at Marietta Square with a density of 11.8 units per acre on a tract of 1.02 acres, according to city staff.

But last week, the city’s planning commission recommended the project move forward with only 140 units, with a vote of 6-0. Commissioner Brenda McCrae was not present.

If the new development were to move forward with 140 units, the density would be around 11.5 units per acre.

Commissioner Stephen Diffley, who made the motion, declined to comment, and Chairman Bob Kinney could not be reached by press time, but Commissioner Boozer McClure said the commissioners agreed the development was too dense.

“Historically, over 12 units per acre was kind of like topping out what the city has done in the past,” he said. “We were just trying to keep it in alignment with what was done in the past.”

Before the development can move forward, it must be approved by the City Council, which heard details on the project from Neville Allison, managing partner of developers Revive Land Group last week.

The homes are slated to be three stories tall, have floor areas ranging from 1,800 to 2,400 square feet and include three or four bedroom units. They will come with a sales price of $330,000 to $375,000.

Allison said he took issue with the decision to reduce the number of units, which he characterized as arbitrary.

“What happened last night is a planning commissioner put his thumb up in the air and said ‘Previous developments in Marietta have been zoned between 12 and 11 units per acre, I think 11 and a half sounds good,’” Allison said. “If I lose 10 units here, the risk is, one, we don’t have a viable project, two … we just have less money to do good things with the development, whether that’s architecture or caliber of trees or amenities. And at the end of the day, if you look at our site plan with 30% open space, I don’t see anyone driving by and saying ‘Man, they really crammed ten too many units in there.’”

The council members did not vote on the matter last Wednesday, but expressed general approval. That includes Cheryl Richardson, in whose ward the project is planned, who said she would have liked to have seen the property sell alongside the flea market, but thinks the town homes will benefit the area.

“I had somebody call me about this and ask me why weren’t we selling this as a package deal with the flea market,” she said. “I told them if you bring me a buyer for both, I’d love to meet them, but we get the people who come to us. … It’s not that we wouldn’t like to sell this as a package, but I think if this goes forward, it helps the rest of the area. I think once people see this, they’re going to want to do things in that area.”

Bruce Nicklin, HOA president of the nearby Saint Augustine Place condominiums, said he is not so positive.

“My personal reaction is mixed,” he said. “I am a major real estate investor. I am concerned that with the Bishops going their own way, that the city might take a beating on the flea market property. It is a good location, but not very large. I also have concerns about the density of the proposed project. A ton of units on a rather small piece of land.”

The property is owned by former Cobb County government attorney Dorothy “Dottie” Bishop’s family.

The city purchased about seven acres, including the strip mall anchored by the flea market, in 2017 for $5.8 million. The purchase was part of Marietta’s efforts to redevelop the Franklin Gateway corridor with funds from a $68 million voter-approved bond.

The idea was to buy up blighted property and sell it to developers at a loss with the understanding that the new projects would bring higher property values and lower crime rates.

The council is expected to vote on the project Wednesday. If they approve the development, they could go along with the planning commission’s recommendation or approve the original 150 units.

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