Apr. 28—MARIETTA — Galt Porter, chairman of the Cobb Planning Commission, is resigning from his post next month.
The news was announced by Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid at Tuesday night's Board of Commissioners meeting. Both Cupid and Commissioner Monique Sheffield, the latter of whom appointed Porter to his most recent term on the commission, said they had no further information on his reasons for stepping down.
Porter did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the MDJ.
The Maximum One real estate broker is the longest-tenured member of the five-seat, board-appointed body, being first nominated by then-Commissioner Cupid in 2013. He was named chair of the body in March 2020.
"Galt has served with his whole heart on our Planning Commission," Cupid said during the announcement. She recalled first meeting Porter well before her run for office, saying he was "this voice that was always urging for us to consider the best of the south part of the county, when we didn't always perceive that we were getting the best."
Porter was recently the subject of a dispute between the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners. Objecting to the board's proposed rezoning of a parcel of county-owned property which was slated to be sold off, Porter said the requested designation would deflate the property's value and cost the county money on the sale.
The spat added fuel to the existing debate over density and development in west Cobb, which has prompted a cadre of Republican legislators to propose the city of Lost Mountain.
"If ever you needed a reason for establishing the City of Lost Mountain, here it is," wrote the 'Preserve West Cobb — Support The City of Lost Mountain' Facebook page in response to a previous Journal article on the issue.
"Who should be making these types of decisions for us? A South Cobb resident? Or a city council made up of your West Cobb neighbors? The choice will be yours."
West Cobb Planning Commissioner Fred Beloin said he was shocked by the news, and reached out to Porter urging him to reconsider. Porter's experience and expertise, Beloin said, was an immeasurable asset to the board.
"He and Judy Williams were both long-serving members," Beloin said. "Between her death and his leaving, we're losing a lot of experience, and a lot of depth, and a lot of understanding. So it's going to take a lot of hard work to get back up to speed."
Tuesday's meeting also saw an appearance from the family of Kevil Wingo, the 36-year-old man who died in the Cobb jail in 2019 after he was arrested for drug possession. Timothy Gardner, the Wingo family's attorney, addressed the board during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"This family has been forced over a year and a half to play a shell game with justice ... they want you all to not approve any budget items for the district attorney or the sheriff's office until they answer the question (of) why a prosecution has not gone forward yet," Gardner said.
Gardner called out District Attorney Flynn Broady for name-checking Wingo, among others who died in the Cobb jail, during a request for more staff earlier this month. Broady argued with better resources for his office, the deaths could have been avoided.
Wingo's family, meanwhile, stood bearing signs reading, "I AM KEVIL WINGO'S SON/DAUGHTER/SISTER," and, "JUSTICE FOR KEVIL WINGO."
The jail deaths are under investigation by the FBI. After his remarks, Gardner told the MDJ Wingo's family has been shut out of the process.
"No one knows what the status is. They've been investigating it, I think, for almost nine months ... but no prosecutions have been brought forth yet," Gardner said.
In other business, the board went on to approve the following items:
—A measure recouping some of the security expenditures for the 2021 All-Star Game, while leaving in place funding for a county-wide surveillance center and new equipment for the sheriff's office.
—An inter-governmental agreement with the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority to accept up to $15 million in funding from the authority. The agreement allows the county to begin negotiations for the purchase of a lot at Roswell Road and I-75, where Cobb DOT plans to build a new bus transfer center.
—Two contracts with the Georgia Department of Transportation and Lewallen Construction Company to build a multi-use trail at Kennesaw Mountain.
—The appointment of Courtney Knight, founder of Capstone Capital Advisors LLC and Capstone Municipal Advisors LLC, to the Development Authority of Cobb County.