May 26—MARIETTA — In a fiery speech at Tuesday night's Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting, Chairwoman Lisa Cupid rebuked the Cobb Chamber of Commerce's opposition to a recent zoning decision, and said she would not bow to calls from business leaders and lawmakers to reconsider the vote.
"I don't understand why we're getting this heat after the zoning hearing," Cupid said, staring down Chamber President Sharon Mason, Chairman John Loud, and COO Dana Johnson, who each spoke earlier in the meeting.
The chamber leaders made an appearance at the commission meeting to urge the commissioners to reconsider their 3-2 vote last week approving a development opposed by Dobbins Air Reserve Base. In an array of metaphors (ripple, tsunami, landslide), they warned the decision could jeopardize the future of Dobbins during the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
Dobbins' opposition stems from the development — a 38-unit condominium complex — lying within the base's "Accident Potential Zone," an area extending from the runway where plane crashes are most likely to occur. The site is approximately 1.5 miles from the base, but the chamber says building there could be a strike against the base during a BRAC review.
Opposition to the board's decision to approve the project began building Monday, when State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-east Cobb, wrote an open letter to the commission asking them to reconsider. That was followed by a letter from the chamber, and another from a dozen past chamber chairs. And Tuesday morning, some members of the Cobb County Legislative Delegation met with the chamber and agreed to reach out individually to the three Democrats on the commission who approved the development.
Those efforts seem to have had no effect. Cupid and Commissioners Monique Sheffield and Jerica Richardson — the latter of whom represents the area — all said Tuesday night they would not revisit the decision.
In the final minutes of the meeting, Cupid accused the Cobb Chamber of a failure to communicate with commissioners, saying, "This is not the partnership I expected."
Cupid also suggested the chamber was applying a double standard to the case. She read from articles stacked in front of her on the dais about how construction of the Atlanta Braves' Truist Park and Thyssenkrupp's Cumberland tower would interfere with Dobbins' operations.
"I received no correspondence, nobody coming to this board to warn us, to tell us about the negative impact of the stadium," she said. "All I heard was for us to build it."
Referring to the Thyssenkrupp tower, Cupid continued, "I didn't hear from the chamber. Nobody accused this board of not being mindful of Dobbins' economic impact. Nobody said this board didn't care.
"It bothers me that these women up here who do what they do every day to prepare, and to plan, and to serve, to be viewed as if they consider this county any less than their predecessors—who made decisions that impacted flight operations at Dobbins," Cupid said, shortly before adjourning the meeting for the night.
Earlier in the meeting, Johnson suggested in his remarks to commissioners they had not received all the pertinent information on the case.
"You all have a difficult job. A lot of information is thrown at you, and you have to make difficult decisions balancing a lot of different things," he said.
Richardson dismissed that line of argument, saying "Everything that was brought up today was everything that we were aware of."
Johnson, Loud, and Mason made a quick line for the exits at the meeting's end. They stood with residents, Commissioner Keli Gambrill, and Cobb GOP Chair Salleigh Grubbs — who also spoke against the decision — commiserating on the steps of the commission building. Loud provided an initial statement.
"I think it's very disheartening. We just had a sit-down meeting with (Cupid), for her to be stating that we've not had any discussion on it is just sad," Loud said. "The thing that we're asking for is reconsideration. We're not asking for folks to change their vote. There's a lot more to the dialogue than you can do in five minutes."
Loud then contacted the Journal with a revised position later in the evening.
"Under Chairwoman Cupid's leadership, we have lost the All-Star Game. Our community better start to realize the direction of our county. And hopefully we do not lose Dobbins ... Dobbins is too vital to risk," he said.