After failed arbitration, Marietta to consider annexation; 600-home development

Jan. 9—Arbitration over a developer's request for annexation and the building of 600 homes in Marietta failed to materialize after Cobb officials objected to the request. As a result, the item is slated to come before the Marietta City Council on Wednesday.

Beazer Homes is asking Marietta to annex roughly 170 acres of land around Laura Lake Road, nestled between Bells Ferry Road and Interstate 575, into the city. Cobb is objecting to the annexation based on the proposed density of the development, which exceeds the allowable density under county code.

Beazer previously applied for a rezoning with the county before withdrawing the petition and bringing it to the city instead.

In December, Rusty Roth, Marietta's director of development, told the Marietta City Council that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has received the county's objection and would be forming an arbitration panel to settle the dispute.

At the time, Roth told the MDJ the council would not consider Beazer's request until the arbitration was resolved.

However, Kevin Moore, an attorney representing Beazer, told the MDJ Monday the DCA failed to form an arbitration panel.

According to the rules governing the formation of an arbitration panel, if the DCA is unable to form a panel within 15 days of receiving a request for arbitration, it "will necessarily decline to appoint a panel."

On Dec. 13, the DCA informed city and county officials that the department had failed to successfully appoint an arbitration panel, which is composed of four elected officials, two from the county and two from the city, as well as one housing expert.

"We have not been successful in assembling the mandated number of panelists to proceed with appointing a panel within the permitted timeframe," Juli Yoder of the DCA said in the email.

Roth confirmed it was the opinion of Marietta's city attorney that, since the arbitration panel did not form, the council can now vote on the requests for rezoning and annexation.

Marietta Councilman Andy Morris and Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin both said they supported the annexation.

"I just think with the way we're kind of blocked in by all the cities, we have no room to expand, we don't have any vacant land for people to build houses," Morris said.

He added it would be a good opportunity for Marietta City Schools to consider building another school in the area. Morris said traffic could be an issue with the development, but he also said traffic is already an issue in some parts of the city, and it would be worth the additional homes available in Marietta.

Tumlin told the MDJ he is "110% for it."

"We need a good, quality subdivision to shore up that area, help our school system," Tumlin said.

Tumlin said the city has fallen into the practice of approving five to ten townhomes without developing "anchor" subdivisions with a greater number of homes and amenities to offer residents in that part of Marietta.

Councilman Carlyle Kent said he is opposed to the development as it stands.

"I'm not happy with the current layout and the amount of green space in the neighborhood," Kent said.

Kent said he would like to see more green space and amenities added to the site plan for the development.

"A subdivision that big needs to have the amenities to keep the subdivision's values up," Kent said.