Mableton cityhood movement drives two subdivisions into the arms of Smyrna

·3 min read

Jul. 28—SMYRNA — Smyrna is moving toward adding two neighborhoods to its city.

The Smyrna City Council took the first step on July 18 when it unanimously approved the annexation requests of two subdivisions in unincorporated Cobb County, 36-home Vinings Brooke and 57-home Heritage Mill.

Residents say the city Mableton proposal drove residents of both to pursue becoming part of Smyrna, with more than 65% of Heritage Mill households and more than 80% of Vinings Brooke households agreeing to the annexation.

A public hearing is scheduled for August 15, after which the council will take a final vote on the annexations. If approved, they take effect Sept. 1, according to the city.

Jane Brown, a resident of Heritage Mill since 1986 who manages the subdivision's checking account, said conversations about annexation began at a neighborhood gathering last year.

At that time, another resident told her and others that the subdivision was on a proposed city of Mableton map, as efforts by the South Cobb Alliance to push for Mableton cityhood regained steam in early 2021.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill to create a new city of Mableton in May, setting the stage for a November referendum on whether to incorporate the south Cobb city. If approved by voters, the new city of 77,505 residents would encompass the southernmost part of the county between Austell and Smyrna.

There were mixed reactions to being included in the city of Mableton among Heritage Mill residents, according to Brown.

"We had some folks adamant they didn't want to be in Mableton, and then we had some folks who didn't want to do it, didn't want to do anything at all," Brown said. "We probably all would just have preferred to just be like we were, status quo, but there was that unknown with Mableton coming along."

The primary concern among residents was how Mableton would service the neighborhood, which is about four miles northeast of the heart of Mableton. Additionally, the most direct route to Heritage Mill from Mableton involves crossing the historic covered bridge on Concord Road that runs over Nickajack Creek. The bridge, built in 1872, is one of 16 wooden covered bridges remaining in Georgia, and is narrow and low-clearance.

"We were just shocked, because of the covered bridge, I guess," Brown said, noting that the subdivision is north of the covered bridge and already adjacent to the Smyrna border. "Why would Mableton come all the way up there? And when you looked at the map, it did."

Concerns about home values also drove the decision of Heritage Mill residents to annex.

"There were some neighbors concerned about property values that a Mableton address wouldn't be as desirable as a Smyrna address," Brown said.

To the southeast of Heritage Mill, residents in the Vinings Brooke subdivision also heard about the potential for Mableton cityhood and their neighborhood's inclusion in proposed boundaries last year, leading them to also begin the process of joining Smyrna.

"The Vinings Brooke subdivision community, we took a vote and decided that, 'Hey, annexing over to Smyrna would definitely be in our best interest,'" said Robert Bailey, homeowner's association president for the subdivision. "We wanted to align ourselves with the city that was already mature, had all the infrastructure in place, considering the cityhood movement that's going, so we wanted to have a choice as opposed to not having a choice."

Bailey said residents were also worried about the possibility of being rezoned into a different group of Cobb County School District schools were the subdivision to become part of Mableton.

Brown and Bailey also identified access to Smyrna emergency services as a reason their subdivision requested annexation.