Commissioners approve Powder Springs development, shut down Marietta boarding house

Chart Riggall, Marietta Daily Journal, Ga.
·3 min read

Feb. 16—At its monthly zoning hearing Tuesday, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved a subdivision that will bring up to 44 single-family homes to a 30-acre area on Garden Road in Powder Springs.

The development, proposed by Marietta-based CS Realty Group, was approved unanimously. The area will be rezoned to allow the property to be subdivided into lots of 20,000 square feet (or 0.46 acres or less).

Attorney Kevin Moore represented the developer at the hearing, laying out some of the changes his client made at the behest of area residents. The property is directly across from Varner Elementary School, and Moore said some neighbors expressed concern about added traffic in the school area. The developer has agreed to pay for the construction and installation of a turn lane and additional signage to improve traffic safety in the area.

One resident, Halperin Reed, spoke in opposition to the development at the meeting. Reed expressed concern about the location of a stormwater detention pond—moved across the property from its original location in the new site plan—which would abut the rear of her property.

"When you correct one problem it seems like you end up with a new one," Reed said, expressing concern both about the potential for runoff into her yard, and the appearance of the pond.

Ultimately, District 4 Commissioner Monique Sheffield and Chairwoman Lisa Cupid agreed to add a stipulation that the pond be buffered with aesthetically pleasing foliage, and the motion was passed.

Another measure dealt with an application by John Lay to allow him to effectively use his 3,400 square foot Marietta home as a boarding house. Lay rents the eight bedrooms of his home out to tenants, but was put on a code notice by the county in September after complaints from a neighbor.

Per Cobb County code, the Austell Circle house is allowed to house up to eight adults, but only two unrelated adults. Lay petitioned for an exception to that code, arguing his house provides much-needed affordable housing.

"Our tenants have limited income, and if not for this setup and low rent, many may be homeless," Lay told the commission. "This is a quiet, affordable, safe, and convenient house which has become a home for our tenants ... we are de facto family with each other."

Lay also suggested that the complaints filed by the owner of a neighboring property were less than legitimate.

Cupid said she was sympathetic to Lay's argument, but could not vote to approve the measure.

"I sympathize for those who are looking for affordable housing, I truly do," Cupid said. "If this wasn't part of a code enforcement issue, perhaps I'd be more amenable to changing it ... I don't believe it's fair for somebody who lives in a single-family home to have to live next to what they perceive is a boarding house."

District 1 Commissioner Keli Gambrill argued the unregulated nature of the house was disqualifying for her. District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said she was open to examining the rule pertaining to two unrelated adults, but ultimately believed allowing Lay to continue operating would establish an untenable precedent.

Lay's request was unanimously voted down, and he was given 90 days to come into compliance with county code.