Barnes farm development, Jewish center near KSU highlight Tuesday's busy zoning agenda

Feb. 20—The Cobb Board of Commissioners is set to have a busy Tuesday at its zoning hearing with cases old and new.

One long-running case before the board is the controversial south Cobb development on farmland owned by former Gov. Roy Barnes.

South Cobb zoning saga

In December, Commissioner JoAnn Birrell voted to deny the proposed 114-home subdivision on Brown Road, near Stout Park. She cast the tie-breaking vote after the other four commissioners split 2-2 over a motion to approve the development at the board's Nov. 15 zoning hearing.

Birrell was absent from that meeting, and the case was pending until she cast her vote on the matter in December.

Marietta developer David Pearson initially proposed building 130 homes on 190 acres of land owned by Barnes on Brown Road, though the number of homes was reduced to 118 and then 114 as the application progressed through the rezoning process.

Per the request, 125 of the 190 acres were to be set aside as green space under the county's "open space community" category, which allows developers to put houses on smaller lots in exchange for providing common green space to their residents.

Birrell said her opposition was based on concerns about stormwater, runoff and flooding on the land, similar to those of Commissioner Keli Gambrill and Chairwoman Lisa Cupid, who voted to deny the application in November.

After Birrell cast her vote, Commissioner Monique Sheffield motioned to hold the case until the Board of Commissioners' February zoning hearing, as the failed motion to approve the application meant it was still before the board.

Gambrill and Birrell 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 plan and to Cupid's request that Clithon Rice, a nearby resident who has been opposed to development since it was first heard by the Planning Commission in July, be included on all correspondence prior to Tuesday's hearing.

Contested Jewish student center

The board will also hear the case for a Jewish student center in a residential area near KSU's campus for the first time on Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, the Cobb Planning Commission unanimously recommended the board deny the request from Hillels of Georgia.

At a December hearing, the Planning Commission tabled the organization's request for a special land use permit to use a rented house at 3561 Frey Lake Road for a Jewish student center serving KSU students.

Hillels of Georgia has rented the home since the start of the 2022 school year, Wayne Keil, the organization's CEO, said at the commission's December zoning hearing.

The organization holds various events, including Friday night dinners and educational programming, at the house. It still leases and operates out of the property.

Moore, who also represents Hillels of Georgia, said there would be an option for the organization to purchase the house at some point in the future.

At the Planning Commission hearing earlier this month, 10 nearby residents came out to oppose the request.

Phil Anzalone, a representative from the Pinetree Civic Association who spoke against the request in December, reiterated that his and other residents' opposition was not faith-based.

"This is not an antisemitic appeal, this is the wrong house in the wrong area," Anzalone said.

Neighbors' concerns about the location included lack of available parking along Frey Road and noise that might come from the deck of the home during events.

Planning Commissioner Deborah Dance made the motion to recommend denying the request "based upon the opposition and based upon articulated burdens and impacts of this proposal upon a residential neighborhood."

New grocer, new subdivision

The board appears set to approve a new grocery store in northeast Cobb and a 21-home development in west Cobb, as those cases are already on the board's consent agenda for Tuesday.

The German grocery store chain Lidl has repeatedly attempted to open a new location in the area over the previous five years. Now, its proposal for a store at Piedmont Road and Canton Highway is on the commission's consent agenda Tuesday, meaning it is likely to be approved.

According to revised plans, the proposed store would be located on a 3.47-acre lot and total 29,700 square feet, with about 21,100 square feet of retail space.

In addition, Brock Built Homes's proposal is for a 22-home subdivision that covers about 14 acres on Friendship Church Road, just down the street from Hillgrove High School. The request was approved 4-0 by the commission earlier this month, with Chairman Stephen Vault absent.

The rezoning request was for smaller land lots than what the area was previously zoned for, and the applicant also requested rezoning to an open space community, aimed at preserving greenspace to promote environmental sustainability in the development.

The subdivision would have five acres of open space, according to the rezoning application.

In his motion to approve the request, Planning Commissioner Fred Beloin said the number of homes he wished to move forward to the Board of Commissioners was 21, as opposed to the 22 requested by Brock Built Homes.

The Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. for its zoning hearing in the commission room at 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta.