114-home development on Roy Barnes' south Cobb farm rejected

Feb. 21—MARIETTA — The Cobb Board of Commissioners rejected turning a swath of farmland owned by former Gov. Roy Barnes near Stout Park into a 114-home subdivision.

The rezoning request from developer David Pearson for about 190 acres on Brown Road in south Cobb, backing up to Sweetwater Creek, was first heard in July.

Since then, a back-and-forth between the applicant and nearby residents proceeded for months before culminating in commissioners' unanimous denial of the rezoning request Tuesday.

After Commissioner Monique Sheffield motioned in December to approve the request, the board split 2-2, with Chairwoman Lisa Cupid and Commissioner Keli Gambrill opposed to approval. Commissioner JoAnn Birrell was absent from the meeting.

Upon her return to the dais at the next zoning hearing, Birrell broke the tie and cast a vote against Sheffield's motion to approve. The case was held until Tuesday, and both Birrell and Gambrill requested that Pearson return then with plans showing the number of homes the development could yield with 20,000- and 30,000-square-foot lots, respectively.

Kevin Moore, the attorney representing Pearson, agreed to the commissioners' request for the two site plans plans at the time, yet it was evident early in the hearing Tuesday that the commissioners' request for new site plans would not be honored, as both Pearson and Barnes did not wish to provide them.

"The applicant and owner believed that the proposal made was the best proposal for development of the property," Moore said.

While previous hearings on the case were lengthy affairs involving questions from commissioners, input from county staff on stormwater issues and wrangling over site plans, Tuesday's was relatively short.

That's in large part because the developer did not bring forth the requested site plans.

However, county staff did recommend that the developer raise the heights of each lot in the property to six feet above the floodplain. Sheffield said that recommendation informed her motion to deny the request.

She added that the developer's refusal to bring the two site plans requested by her colleagues factored into her decision.

Clithon Rice, a nearby resident who has been opposed to the request from the start due to concerns about flooding in the area, was there Tuesday to once again express his opposition.

"The water issue is there," Rice said.

He asserted that the lack of new site plans from Pearson reiterated that the rezoning request was about profits, and nothing more.

Rice also expressed ire about Pearson's absence from all hearings on the request, compared to his and other opponents' continued presence at hearings.

"We've been coming here about a year," Rice said. "Where is David Pearson?"

Moore did not have specifics on what Pearson and Barnes planned to do next with the property after Tuesday's hearing.

"They will be assessing their options," Moore said.