Sprayberry Crossing, North Point Ministries complex held to May

Chart Riggall, Marietta Daily Journal, Ga.
·3 min read

Apr. 6—MARIETTA — Cobb will have to wait another month for an end to the saga of Sprayberry Crossing.

The Cobb County Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to hold the development until May. Planning Commissioner Deborah Dance said too many outstanding issues existed to advance the proposal as currently envisioned.

Also held was the heavily debated North Point Ministries church and mixed-use complex at Shallowford and Johnson Ferry Roads.

Tuesday's zoning hearing was packed from the outset, with dozens of residents turning out to speak for and against the developments on the agenda, many waiting in a nearby overflow room. Nearly 600 more people signed up to jockey for a virtual speaking slot.

Sprayberry Crossing was not considered by the commission until just after 1 p.m., when Atlantic Residential's attorney Kevin Moore stood behind the lectern to deliver his pitch. Moore highlighted the area's history as a blighted shopping center, and cited its unique status as a redevelopment site designated by the county.

"If we miss this opportunity, we've missed it," Moore said. "And if we let perfect get in the way of good, we're going to miss it."

The design for the Atlantic Residential property includes office space, retail, a Lidl grocery store, 44 townhomes, 125 senior units, and 125 apartments.

David Stafford, who spoke against the development, was forthright about his reason for opposing it—apartments, he said, will invite poor people into the neighborhood.

"The one-bedroom apartments—and really, all of the apartments, I believe—are only going to attract transient, lower-income individuals by the hundreds, which will not bring investment into our community. Instead, I believe that it will bring crime, drugs, and other various problems."

Moore could be seen shaking his head and muttering under his mask during Stafford's comments. According to Atlantic Residential, the one-bedroom apartments will have a starting rental price of $1,400 and up.

Questioned by Commissioner Tony Waybright as to why the site plan did not include a portion of units designated as affordable housing, Moore said that idea was both financially untenable and had faced community opposition.

"So the community didn't feel that a teacher, or fireman, or policeman would be a good neighbor," Waybright replied.

Dance said as of Tuesday, the county had received 145 emails in favor of the development, and 165 against. Citing divided public opinion, along with traffic and transportation issues raised by residents and fellow commissioners, she said more work was needed to reach an agreeable design.

North Point Ministries

The Planning Commission came to a similar conclusion regarding North Point Ministries' proposed 33-acre complex in east Cobb. The property is divided by a drained lake, now a creek and wetland area. The northern half would feature a 125,000 square foot church, while North Point proposes to build 110 housing units, plus retail space, on the southern side.

As with Sprayberry Crossing, North Point's proposal faced outspoken public opinion from both sides. Resident Scott Bagwell praised the development as a welcome addition to the area.

"East Cobb is ever-changing. East Cobb needs this church, it needs this development," Bagwell said.

Many residents—nearly 1,600 who signed on to a petition opposing the complex—did not share Bagwell's rosy outlook. A presentation from Jill Flamm of the East Cobb Civic Association highlighted what she said were traffic, density, and stormwater management issues with the application.

Waybright, who represents the area, couldn't resist getting a dig in at North Point's designs before making his motion to hold the proposal.

"We've all been taught not to tell someone their baby's ugly, and we've all been taught that we're supposed to say something nice whenever we can say something nice," Waybright said. "We saw the renderings, so I will say that those were really pretty clouds in the rendering. And we'll leave it at that."