Vinings apartments rejected
by Geoff Folsom
March 07, 2012 12:01 AM | 3475 views | 6 6 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Cobb Planning Commission on Tuesday affirmed the county’s longstanding policy of keeping Spring Hill Parkway as a dividing line between single family residential and more intense development in Vinings.

But in northeast Cobb, the planning commissioners advanced a proposal for a meal-movie project. County commissioners will have the final say on both projects on March 20.

On the Vinings proposal, the commissioners voted 5-0 to recommend rejecting the application of Walton Communities LLC, which wanted to build a 262-unit, midrise apartment building on 23.5 acres near the intersection of Spring Hill and Mt. Wilkinson parkways. The case had been continued three times, once by the Planning Commission, and twice by staff.

Planning Commissioner Michael Terry, who represents the area, said developers have sought to change the planned use of the 24.75-acre site a number of times, including a 1989 case that resulted in a lawsuit that the county ultimately won.

Terry said that case was decided on concerns over the development decreasing property values, creating noise and increasing traffic.

“I’m not sure that doesn’t still hold true,” Terry said.

Attorney John Moore, of Marietta’s Moore, Ingram, Johnson & Steele firm, represents Walton Communities. He said developers went out of their way to appease residents of the nearby single family subdivisions, calling the proposed 724-foot conservation easement between the rear of the apartments and the closest residential property the largest in Cobb zoning history. He said that allowing the site to be developed as single family residential, as some have suggested, would jeopardize that.

But Frank Savini of the Paces Homeowners Alliance said the large green space buffer would be needed by any developer because it is a storm water drainage area.

“We’re not opposed to development,” Savini said. “What we are opposed to is development that is not compatible with the area.”

Savini disputed Moore’s claims that the upscale apartment building, which is designed to have parking garage, would not be visible from the nearby subdivision. He displayed a rendering showing the building would take up the equivalent of four-and-a-half football fields.

While Moore said the single-family homes already have apartment complexes nearby, Savini said they don’t have the impact that Walton’s planned development would.

“Yes we do have apartments that surround us,” Savini said. “But we don’t see them and they don’t see us.”

Although she voted against the project, Planning Commissioner Judy Williams said she might reconsider if the developer tweaked the proposal.

“Since the court case, things have changed,” she said. “Any time you can have a development come in and have a buffer that’s 700 feet, that’s not going to happen again.”

After the commissioners voted, the 60 people opposed to the project cheered.

Meanwhile in northeast Cobb, planning commissioners recommended approval of a movie theater/restaurant called Movie Tavern in an old Kroger shopping center on State Route 92 between Sandy Plains and Mabry roads.

Attorney Kevin Moore, also of the Moore Ingram firm, represents the developer, DDR Southeast Sandy Plains LLC.

Movie Tavern is a Dallas-based company that has 15 meal-movie locations in six states. It has one location in Georgia, in Tucker, and plans to open in Suwanee later this year, according to its website.

Kevin Moore said owners agreed to limit the theater to 12 screens, but balked at requests from some of the 15 neighbors in attendance who wanted the complex to have seating for no more than 1,049 people. Planning Commission Chairman Murray Homan said capacity is an issue for the fire marshal.

Moore said the theater could help bring back the Sandy Plains Village shopping center, which is only 18 percent occupied. Developers plan to spend $2 million improving the shopping center, in addition to the $4.5 million it will cost to put in the Movie Tavern.

A few neighbors insisted more planning was needed.

“We’d like to see the proposal go forward. However, we still have concerns about the specific plans, or lack of specific plans,” said Andrew Douglas, president of the Chatsworth Homeowners Association.

Developers will aim to make the buffer behind the building 35 feet deep, and will install an eight-foot privacy fence to help block noise and lights, said Kevin Moore.

Planning Commissioner Christi Trombetti, who represents the area, said she hopes more projects like this one will come to some of the area’s blighted shopping centers.

“The fact that it is being considered is a good sign, and very good for the community,” Trombetti said. “We need to be open to new uses, and I think this is a good option.”
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March 08, 2012
25-30 years ago there were luxury adult only apartment complexes in Vinings. They were wonderful places. Then someone sued that they would not accepted children. It was then ruled that adult only communities you had to be over 55 or disabled. This led to the downfall of a wonderful time in Vinings. a place where every young professional graduate from college from all over the country desired to live. The Complexes had easy access to downtown or any area of town with 75 and I-285. Night clubs in Buckhead, the Galleria, even Sneakers, or the Perimeter were easy to get to. The large Pools and clubhouses were great social centers on Saturday and Sundays. Then once the ruling allowing families with children in these previously upscale adult only complexes things went down hill fast. Many of us bought condo's we did not want to live in Apartments with people with children that rented, after all, once you have children you should own a house and be part of a neighborhood. Get some grass for your kids to play in. The Apartment Complexes quickly went downhill, the luxury was lost, they were no longer the upscale adult only social centers they had been in the 80's.

They became a burden on the schools. Teasley in particular became adversly affected when the City of Atlanta did their Project tear down and handed out Section 8 vouchers. They became the Ghetto. The owners stopped doing maintenance. They were all waiting for John Wieland to buy then out to build 1/2 million dollar townhouse. But the market crashed. So Vinnings is stuck with 30-40 year old apartments that are a rundown ghetto. So unless they can once again be Luxury adult only complexes where young upwardly mobile adults will move when they graduate from college like I did 29 years ago, then Hell no. Vinnings doesn't need any apartments. Smyrna doesn't need any apartments. Instead Cobb Count needs to get out there and enforce the code and force the owners to update all the 30-40 year old rundown stock. They also need to prevent 8-20 people from living in a 2-3 bedroom apartment. There should not be 2-3 school buses stoping at each rundown apartment complex just for elementary school. They should also look at the portion of police calls that go to these complexes.
Vinnings resident
March 08, 2012
Just what we don't need another $%^& appartment complex. Look at Franklin Rd. These developers want to build an apartment complex, keep it for a couple of years then sell it. It quickly turns into a dump, have we not learned from the past. There is a ton of rental houses sitting vacant. Lets fill those first. Apartment Complexes are a drain on public services We DO NOT NEED ANY MORE!!!!
March 08, 2012
I was at the hearing and after listening to the Vinings residents complain that the proposed apt. would be about 750 ft. from the closest home, and then listenting to the Chatsworth residents say the Movie Tavern would be 30 ft. away from property lines, I was SHOCKED that the commisioners would approve it with little or no opposition. Also thought it funny that the attorney for the applicant in this movie tavern deal suggested he'd want something like this near his home. REALLY????? I would encourge those who voted to pass this on to the commisioners, go over to the sandy Plains Village site and see for themselves what the impact will be when a bldg. double in elevation goes in. Then sit in the parking lot and observe the traffic on Mabry Road...Oh, but I guess that doesnt matter when a developer comes in and offers to spend millions to rennovate an eyesore. Good and well to renovate, but its another story when something so out of place with the original plan of the shopping center goes in.
not a moore fan
March 07, 2012
"what we are opposed to is a development which is not compatible with the area"...If the commissioners allow a megaplex twelve screen theater to go in so close to a neighborhood, they obviously don't represent the homeowner.
March 07, 2012
The Sandy Plains Village re-zoning was put through with little regard to the homeowners who live behind the proposed theatre. What kind of precident is Cobb County setting now that they are being "lulled" by the money aspect of it all?? Sad that developers can get by with this, and that the comissioners didn't require the applicant to do much to make this a win-win situation for all involved. This Movie Tavern would be better located in another area, not one that backs up to property lines that are twenty five feet away. This shopping center has been an eyesore for years, but it has more problems than not being occupied, the traffic and access to the center is a nightmare..wait till all the homeowners living off of Mabry Road and Sandy Plains are affected...I forsee some impending legal action on this one as the height limits and codes are not enforced.
Boot Tim Lee
March 07, 2012
Tim won't be happy until we have a MARTA train running right through the heart of Cobb County. He has little regard for the homeowners who don't want the riff raff coming up out of Atlanta into our neighborhoods. The Developers and lobbyists with deep pockets run Cobb County
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