Instead, 103 people turned out Tuesday morning when the Cobb Board of Commissioners ultimately decided the fate of Walton Communities LLC’s planned the high-end development on Spring Hill Parkway between Cumberland Mall and Home Depot’s headquarters.
Commissioners agreed with the Planning Commission, voting 5-0 to deny the request to rezone the area, instead suggesting the area should be single-family residential like the nearby Vinings Chase subdivision.
Attorney John Moore, who represented Walton Communities and owners Teague Investments, emphasized that the 23.5-acre site would have a 724-foot buffer between the building and homes, the largest ever in the county.
But east Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott — who lives in the subdivision that is now has the second largest buffer in Cobb, Terrell Mill Estates — said the buffer doesn’t completely isolate his community from the Wildwood office park.
“The buffer that was discussed starts in my backyard,” he said. “The buffer consists of 200 feet of undisturbed buffer, extended out to 300 feet of buffer that you cannot build anything higher than the trees ... What you didn’t see (in Moore’s presentation) is the 16-story I.M. Pei office building in the Wildwood office complex that towers over my neighborhood. There’s 500 feet of buffer in my neighborhood, and a lot of my neighbors still see the office building.”
Ott said commissioners changed the land use of the area near Vinings Chase to low-density residential from medium-density residential in January to be consistent with previous board decisions and to keep the area consistent with developments already in place.
By a 4-1 vote, commissioners approved a zoning change that will allow developers to put a new Movie Tavern, designed to give visitors a “dinner and a movie” experience in one location, at the site of a former Stein Mart in the Sandy Plains Village shopping center in northeast Cobb.
Attorney Kevin Moore said the theater could help revitalize the shopping center, which is now 18 percent occupied. It also once housed a Kroger grocery store.
Ott cast the only vote against the theater, again citing the height of the building. He was concerned about residents of the Chatsworth subdivision, which backs up to the facility, having to look at the 45-foot-tall theater.
“I’ve been a huge advocate of redevelopment, but with redevelopment comes the need to make sure you are considerate,” he said.
Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham said that while she understood Ott’s concerns, she felt they were addressed in stipulations the developer agreed to, including agreeing to build a 35-foot landscape buffer and an 8-foot-high fence behind the shopping center, along with vegetation of at least 10-feet high where the building is particularly high.
“I did have concerns about it also, but it wasn’t clear from the community that there were concerns about the height,” Goreham said.
The theater will have a maximum of 12 screens, with no more than 1,500 seats.