Marietta to consider rental units for patients' families

Shannon Ballew, Marietta Daily Journal, Ga.
·3 min read

Mar. 22—A house-turned-business off Church Street could become a place to stay for people with family at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

Dr. Parin Chheda, a palliative care doctor at Wellstar Health System, is applying to the city for a rezoning at 91 Margaret Avenue off Church Street to allow short-term rental for families of hospital patients.

In an application to city officials, Chheda said that he wants to renovate the building to create three units for families within walking distance of the hospital. The house sits in the block behind Kennestone's new emergency department.

The house is zoned for office use. If a rezoning is approved, it would add short-term rental as an approved use. A short-term rental unit is considered a hotel/motel by the city, which for this property wouldn't normally be allowed because it's within 300 feet of residential property, so Chheda is requesting a variance.

"As a palliative care and hospice physician for Wellstar Kennestone, I often have to call families to travel to the hospital to see their loved ones, and sometimes, to say goodbye. My conversations with families has led me to the conclusion that there are no accommodations that are within walking distance to the hospital. Families would prefer to stay close to the hospital to be able to support their loved ones, often at a moment's notice," he wrote in the application. "Of particular note, these units will be essential for the families of trauma, cancer, ECMO (advanced life support), critical cardiac, and hospice patients."

The units are planned to each have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, one on the top floor and two on the lower floors, with its own private access and kitchen. If approved, the building will have at least 10 parking spaces. The units will be marketed via Airbnb, according to Chheda.

While the units may be planned to be only for families of hospital patients, city officials don't have the authority to make sure they remain so, Rusty Roth, the city's development services director, told the MDJ.

"City Council and the applicant may agree on conditions that would make it more likely that families of Wellstar patients would be the primary renters, but a strict limitation could not be enforced," Roth said in an email.

The city doesn't have specific regulations on short term rentals or Airbnb.

During his time on the council, former Councilman Philip Goldstein said he saw a rental housing facility change from its intended purpose.

"We had someone come to us probably three decades ago, and they were proposing basically doing student housing," Goldstein said. "It wasn't too long after we gave the approval, they built it, it started initially as student housing, and quickly morphed into housing for anybody."

In a separate application, Chheda is seeking a rezoning to split 221 Chicopee Drive into two parcels and build two houses on it.

The Marietta Planning Commission will hear the rezoning cases 6 p.m. April 6 at City Hall, 205 Lawrence St. in Marietta. The Marietta City Council meets 7 p.m. April 14. Meetings are also streamed online at www.mariettaga.gov.