A proposed mixed-use development with 153 homes that could be annexed into the city of Acworth has drawn concern from its residential neighbors — for a mix of reasons.
Planned to be built on more than 55 acres located between Cobb Parkway, Old Acworth Dallas Highway, Old Grogan and Mayson roads, some nearby residents have expressed opposition over the project, which has been named Lakeside, citing its potential effects to nearby Lake Allatoona.
The proposed project from west Cobb-based developer GreenWorx LLC would also add 85,000 square feet of office and retail, three commercial outparcel lots that would include a Waffle House restaurant, and three commercial lots facing Cobb Parkway.
Thomas Foster, a resident of Old Grogan Road and mechanical engineer with 50 years of experience in his industry, said the concern he and his neighbors have is not just the new neighbors the development would bring, but the two sewer pumps that would be constructed on the site. The pumps, he said, would be built near the property’s border next to land owned by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property that borders the lake.
“If the pumps fail or you have a power outage at these pump stations, they can flood. You can’t stop the flow of sewage into the pump station, you can’t call all the residents in a subdivision and say, ‘Stop flushing your toilet, stop taking showers, stop running water,’” Foster said. “The issue is protecting our drinking water reservoir that services about a million people in four counties.”
Eric Butler, a resident of Old Acworth Dallas Highway, was one of four residents, along with Foster, who raised the issue with Cobb commissioners last month. Butler in his remarks alluded to the less-dense residential areas in which he and others reside.
“This development is a very large and invasive development that’s proposed, and it’s not in following with anything else around the lake,” Butler said. “They don’t want to be bothered by this very large development, which is more suited, I would say, to an inner city than to a lake community. (And) the amount of runoff, fertilizers and pesticides that would go into the lake from a development this large, I don’t think could be avoided.”
But the development’s future rests not in the hands of Cobb commissioners, but of the Acworth Board of Aldermen.
Though a public hearing on the annexation request had been scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday in Acworth, the developer has delayed the matter.
“It was going to go to planning and zoning and then come to the Board (of Aldermen), but the developer has tabled the annexation,” Mayor Tommy Allegood said. “At this point, we’ll hold the public hearing, but the applicant will not be there and he’s not presenting a plan, so we’re really in limbo with the project at the time.”
SEPTIC VS. SEWER
Opponents of the development have also cited in their arguments a 2008 intergovernmental wastewater treatment agreement between Cobb and Paulding counties, which allows Cobb to send 300,000 gallons per day of its wastewater flows toward Paulding’s Pumpkinvine Creek facility.
The proposed development, however, is not within the defined area of Cobb where the counties agreed to allow wastewater flows toward Paulding, and because the property’s topography would not naturally send wastewater north toward Pumpkinvine sewer lines along Cobb Parkway but rather south, the pump stations would be needed to connect flows to the existing sewer lines.
“The IGA was done in 2008 with 300,000 gallons per day. We’ve been using about 60 (thousand) for 10 years and now we’re going to use another 60 (for this development),” said Cobb Commissioner Bob Weatherford, who represents the area. “It’s not a concern — if anything, (Paulding) owe(s) us a credit, you would think. We haven’t been using anywhere near the capacity.”
A change.org petition titled “No Sewage Pump Stations on Lake Allatoona” had nearly 900 signatures as of Friday evening.
Attorney Kelly Morton, who represents GreenWorx, disputes the fears of those against the pump stations.
“If you look at the data, the failure of a pump station, it’s unheard of, versus if you go in here and you put those houses on septic ... you’re putting sewer in the ground. This would be pumping it away from the property, away from the lake,” Morton said. “I think a lot of citizens misunderstand the use of pumps and sewer; I’d much rather have a sewer development next to me than 20 septic systems that could fail at any time, and that would go into the lake.”
Weatherford, who said he was in favor of the project, said he did not wish to see any new development within his district built with septic systems.
“I support anything that has sewage. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s gravity-fed or has a pump station — I live in a subdivision that has a pump station, it’s never been an issue,” Weatherford said. “It’s foolish in a county our size that we have to have septic tanks. That’s why we’ve got a sewer line going up 41, I’m trying to get one going south on 41 — if we get that done, we don’t need a pump station, we can gravity feed.”
Weatherford said the project and its sewer pumps, or placement of “anything near the lake or any pump station or pipe for that matter,” could not be done without Corps approval, nor that of the county’s stormwater, water and sewer departments.
The Corps of Engineers, meanwhile, has not weighed in on the issue, according to Lead Ranger Chris Purvis.
“Generally, we don’t get too involved in it unless it’s going to be doing something to the Corps property,” Purvis said. “Someone had called a few weeks ago, a concerned citizen, about what we could do about it, but basically, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Acworth officials say they have not be concerned with the pump stations as proposed.
“When we kind of looked at it, we feel that being on a sewer system is better than being on septic. The property does back up to Corps of Engineer property — it does not back up directly to the lake, it’s quite a distance from the lake in terms of measurement,” said Brian Bulthuis, Acworth’s city manager.
Allegood said he believed elected city leaders were supportive of the project. “I think generally the city was in support. We have worked with the overall density numbers,” he said.
Morton said Friday that changes were being made to the project’s sewer setup, but did not elaborate.