MARIETTA — A multi-family apartment complex which proposed to build 119 units near Birney Elementary School was held by the Cobb Planning Commission Tuesday following pushback from neighbors in the area.
Residents near the 10-acre parcel at 675 Smyrna Powder Springs Road advanced many of the complaints that have dogged apartment complexes across Cobb County, saying the proliferation of rental units in the residential area would invite crime and code violations.
“Homeowners invested their life savings when purchasing these homes, relying on the fact that this area is zoned for single-family residential use,” said Lisa Dillman, a resident of the nearby Flowery Branch subdivision. “Just blocks away on Favor Road where apartments are abundant, there is a higher crime rate … a Cobb County code enforcement officer opined last week that apartment complexes often have a detrimental effect on adjoining neighborhoods.”
Attorney Ellen Smith, however, protested that KCG Development’s proposal would effectively price out such adverse effects, targeting the 60th percentile of the area’s median income, equating to roughly $51,700 per year.
Other concerns arose around traffic generated by the area and a possible burden on Osborne High School, which Smith acknowledged is currently over capacity. Given that the county did not have adequate time to review the developer’s traffic study, Planning Commissioner Stephen Vault asked for the proposal to be held for a month pending further examination.
The commission was expected to consider an even larger apartment plan in south Cobb on Cityview Drive, near Six Flags Over Georgia. Prior to the hearing, zoning staff recommended Bonaventure Investments’ plan be rejected for its failure to conform with pre-existing land use designations. The case was not considered before press time.
Bonaventure Vice President Jeremy Moss said the 26.7-acre, 305-unit complex was a first foray into the Atlanta metro market for the Virginia-based company. Thus far, the company had not been notified of any opposition to the project. While he granted the $1,350 to $1,925 rents for one to three-bedroom apartments might seem above-average, by the time the project would be completed, those rents should be in line with averages for the area.
In other business, Planning Commissioner Deborah Dance put the brakes on a plan to turn a side street at Barrett Parkway and Bells Ferry Road, near Town Center mall, into a commercial corridor. Branded as “The Walk at Piedmont,” the undeveloped 5-acre parcel would be turned into a strip with a car wash, auto shop, and other retail spaces.
The applicant’s presentation ran relatively smoothly at last month’s hearing, but was less well-received Tuesday. The trouble began when Brad Russell, an engineer representing the applicant, arrived late to the hearing to the consternation of the opposition, some of whom were forced to leave because of the delay.
After some chiding from Dance, Russell went on to apologize for a series of misunderstandings between himself and nearby residents. A required mailing of notification letters to neighbors was botched by the company hired to do so, Russell said, and a meeting with community members was not adequately advertised, which engendered hostility from the neighbors.
Citing “work to be done and goodwill to be restored,” Dance pushed the decision back yet another month.