Dobbins objects to condo development near I-75, Windy Hill Road

·3 min read

May 17—A proposed condominium development to be considered by the Cobb Board of Commissioners Tuesday has received opposition not from cantankerous neighbors, but from pillars of the county including Dobbins Air Reserve Base and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

The proposal, sponsored by Atlanta-based Venture Communities, would build 38 condominiums at the end of Leland Drive, a dead-end road off Windy Hill Road which runs parallel to I-75. The property is currently zoned for commercial use but has not been developed.

The pushback stems from the site's location within Dobbins' "Accident Potential Zone," the area around the base where aviation accidents are most likely to occur. The lot sits about 1.5 miles from the eastern end of the Dobbins runway.

Dobbins submitted a letter to the county in February stating, "high density residential is not considered compatible within APZs based on the increased risk of aircraft crashes beyond the end of an active runway." The military was backed up by the Cobb Chamber, who sent a similar letter in March.

"We hope you will deny application Z-11 of 2021 to help protect Dobbins Air Reserve Base and support their missions," the letter reads, signed by Chairman John loud, CEO Sharon Mason, and COO Dana Johnson. "Dobbins Air Reserve Base is critical to our local economy and national defense."

Parks Huff, Venture's attorney for the case, wrote back in a letter of his own that he was "disappointed" at the chamber's decision to attack the development without first reaching out to Venture.

"The Chamber should not insert itself in zoning cases pitting Cobb County property owners and Cobb County businesses against other Cobb County interests ... It can be stated without any hesitation that if the Department of Defense chose to close Dobbins due to suburban conflict, the 41,000-capacity baseball stadium, surrounding hotels and office buildings will be a bigger factor than 36 condominiums," Huff wrote.

"(Since) a majority of Cobb workers live outside of Cobb County ... Perhaps the Chamber would find it helpful to support residential zonings in Cobb County to address this issue," the letter continues.

At a March Planning Commission meeting, Jay Thomas spoke on behalf of Dobbins' opposition, saying the surrounding land uses to the base could impact its future consideration for base closure.

"We're getting near the edge of the (Accident Potential Zone). Is this like a real strong objection, or is it just a concern or—how would you classify it?" asked then-Chairman Galt Porter.

"I guess if I had to characterize it, we just want to make sure that you're aware of the planning guidelines that (the Department of Defense) provides for us ... it does have to do with the health and safety of the public near the runway," said Thomas.

Huff claimed the residential restriction was arbitrary, arguing an office building in the area would be just as risky given that Dobbins conducts most of its flights during the day. The Planning Commission held the proposal in March.

Planning Commissioner Tony Waybright, who represents the area, went on to say at the commission's April meeting that the concerns raised by Dobbins, combined with issues of crime and code violations in the area, made it "not the right place or the right time for adding residential to Leland Drive."

The commission ultimately voted unanimously to recommend denial of the application on April 6.

The Board of Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta.