Lots of controversy as the public gives their opinions on Franklin Road proposal
by Rachel Miller
May 09, 2013 12:26 AM | 5321 views | 8 8 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Staff/Kelly Huff)
(Staff/Kelly Huff)

A dozen people, each with a different vision of Franklin Road, spoke to the Marietta City Council Wednesday to give their own urban redevelopment ideas.

The public hearing on possible projects under a $35 million bond had passionate speakers lining up to address the council’s proposal to acquire aging apartment complexes along a mile-and-a-half stretch of Franklin Road.

These buildings would be demolished to begin road projects and sell empty lots to private developers.

Former State Sen. Chuck Clay, who lobbies for Parkway Center, a large business complex off of Franklin Road, said Marietta’s residents should support a long-term commitment by the city council.

Clay told the council there is a window due to cheap property rates and it would be a prime time to invest, which could result in a return on the bond money.

Lance Lamberton, president of the Cobb Taxpayers Association, said Marietta property owners need relief, not disregard by a more expansive and intrusive government. He proposed that the free market should dictate resources.

“The bond initiative is an exercise in cronyism, with the economic benefits concentrated in the hands of a few,” said Lamberton, who promised the council his association would fight the ballot measure.

Clay said that Parkway Center has a high amount of space available due to the area’s “reputation of not being safe or an attractive place,” and that businesses need more than a nice building, but a great place to operate.

Clay said that due to the high risk of failure in changing Franklin Road, the effort must come from a private and government partnership.

Heath Garrett, co-founder of the group Revitalize Marietta, which was designed to help combine private and government efforts, said that even though Marietta has great assets, the city is losing its middle class.

Garrett said taxpayers should support a measure that will create a larger taxpayer base by increasing the rate of owner-occupied single-family residences. He said Marietta can no longer withstand the large concentration of a transient population living in dilapidated buildings on Franklin Road.

Bert Reeves, a former Cobb County prosecutor, described Franklin Road as an area with violent crime, with extreme drug use and prostitution. He said crimes in that area require a large level of attention from the court system and the police department.

Opposition to redevelopment

Many long-term residents of Marietta who attended Wednesday’s forum expressed opposition to redeveloping Franklin Road for fear that the crime would move to other areas of the city.

Lamberton said decreasing the number of apartment complexes would increase the rent on residents remaining in the area. He said he was concerned there would be no place for the working poor in Marietta.

“Industry will make money on the backs of the poor people living on Franklin Road,” said Deana Bonner, president of the Cobb County NAACP. “These are the citizens that are not very welcome in the city.”

Robin Montgomery, a resident of Franklin Road, said she has been active with city programs, including working with the Marietta Police Department on Weed and Seed projects to rebuild areas affected by high crime rates.

“On Franklin Road, there is a composite of people that are organizing to improve their lives,” said Montgomery, who added the redevelopment plan would break up a community that is uniting to empower themselves and their children.

Larry Jackson, who said he is a football coach and youth leader, said if the plan is approved, “citizens’ lives are going to be unbalanced. They will need more help.”

Jackson said that he has seen changes as area programs have been established.

“Give Franklin Road a chance to prove itself,” Jackson said.

Charles Levinson, who has announced he is running for mayor in this year’s election, said there are other ways to uplift a community through progressive economic measures, instead of tearing it down with bulldozers.

Levinson said the city council has a history of broken promises, such as plans to build a park after razing Preston Chase apartments on Franklin Road.

“We are better than this,” said Levinson, who called the proposal unfair and callous.

Levinson suggested raising Marietta’s minimum wage, or expanding the Cobb Community Transit bus route to include Sundays.

Changes to the map

Before the public hearing began, Beth Sessoms, acting executive director of the Marietta Redevelopment Corp., presented the city council with changes to the map of the Urban Redevelopment Plan, which shows properties that are considered to be blighted areas based on crime and vacancy rates.

Philip Goldstein was the only opposing vote on adopting the modified plan, focusing on areas of Whitlock Avenue that would fall under the new map.

Goldstein said the shopping centers from Burnt Hickory to Polk Street are viable businesses. He also said the affluent residential area from Marietta Parkway to Kirkpatrick Drive should not receive a “slum” label.

Approval of alcohol sales

In other business, the council unanimously approved the appointment of Hall Rigdon to the Marietta Redevelopment Corporation Board.

Rezoning issues that were unanimously passed included a special land use permit to construct a new telecommunications tower at 2141 Kingston Court and an amendment to allow the sale and consumption of beer and wine in Atherton Square.

Also on the agenda at Wednesday’s meeting was the call to hold Marietta’s general election on Nov. 5, which will include the seven council seats.

With councilman Jim King attending by phone, the council approved this measure, as well as contracting the Board of Education to run the general election.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 09, 2013
My concern is that the city already has several areas in redevelopment that stalled because of the economic downturn. And what will be the big draw for middle and upper class professionals to move to the city. Is it the great schools? No, the middle school and high school are dismal. Is it the vibrant downtown area full of great restaurants, great theater, the arts, and fully supported library. Well, no. Been in the downtown library lately? Probably not. Limited hours,tatty surrounding, limited books. Is it the great transit system that will get you around town and into Atlanta. No, again. There are a lot of factors that go into revitalizing an area. Kicking poor people out of the city will not fix the problem. Unfortunately, the leadership and some residents opposition to any kind of change or progress (which is seen as "liberal" and therefore "evil") keeps a number of younger professionals away.
Murl Pickens
May 09, 2013
What CITY do you live in?? The Marietta Sixth Grade Academy just received a 89.1 CCRPI score. You call that dismal? MMS received at 79. Still not dismal. We also have one of the BEST high schools in the STATE! The downtown area is INCREDIBLE! It's clear you have not a CLUE!
Native 30067
May 09, 2013
The Roswell Road area is overlooked by the city and is in need of commercial redevelopment. Wouldn't "fringe" money be better spent on actual redevelopment parcels there than on wasteful, pandering projects? The end goal should be to increase the tax base, not possibly burden it.
Magic wand
May 09, 2013
The City would need a magic wand to fix all the problems connected to this area. And I have to say, I don't know a soul who is interested in helping to fund it, nor do I know anyone who is anxious to help rehabilitate the criminals by having them move in next door! Someone needs to get realistic about all of this. Sort of reminds me of "nation building".
He said WHAT?
May 09, 2013
Garrett said ... "Marietta can no longer withstand the large concentration of a transient population living in dilapidated buildings on Franklin Road."

Okay so here's the deal, we will buy up even more slums to become city holdings if the city will, in exchange, use the savings from the police department and court to pay that unused electricity bill that will reportedly be costing us 4% more per year on our electricity for the next 5 years!
May 09, 2013
Marietta just gets more stupid as the days go by.

Proposal to make Whitlock Avenue a blighted district and eligible for tax dollars is absolutely ludicrous and absurd. "Good Old Boys Network" is still alive and well in OM -Marietta. Since 98 percent of Good Old boys (better known as politician and shakers) live within 5 miles & including Whitlock Ave they must devise plan for tax dollars to feed their pocketed area even though it's the "Golden Blvd" of the City. Does the Mayor have no shame! Heck NOOOO!
emforet bacterial
May 09, 2013
This issue goes beyond crime at this location, but why it has been allowed to happen in this corridor. Allowed to happen is what everyone needs to be asking.
May 09, 2013
Quote from this article: "Bert Reeves, a former Cobb County prosecutor, described Franklin Road as an area with violent crime, with extreme drug use and prostitution. He said crimes in that area require a large level of attention from the court system and the police department." Well, so it is also with the Six Flags area, which both used to be booming areas that attracted preppies from all over the nation, and don't forget Moonraker and Riverbend. Now females working there would be hesitant to take a walk out there alone to smoke a cigarette. Franklin Road used to be a prestigious place to live. What needs to be asked is this: What happened to make these places spots a place for violent crime, extreme drug use, and prostitution? I can answer that. These things moved into the area and were tolerated by not only the property owners (who most likely live out of state), but also Cobb County law enforcement is to blame also. Otherwise, it would not have happened.

How can you stop this sort of thing? I don't know. I do know I lived in a townhome community in Cobb County that went to the armpits of society, that when it was first built claimed some pretty wealthy people as owners.

I blame a lot on Cobb County code enforcement. I have called them about violations in the community I now live in and they treat me as a pest, not as a concerned homeowner that is seeing my community deteriorating before my own eyes. There are hazards such as county personnel not being able to get through backyard junk heaps that tell me "is it in street view?" No, but I don't want my house to be on fire and to be told they can't get to it because of my neighbor's discarded hot water heater, junk, etc.

Somebody somewhere is ignoring something and they have done so for a long time. If this sort of stuff started happening in the apartments on Roswell Road in East Lake, and maybe it is, why doesn't somebody do something to nip it in the bud? Let's don't become another Atlanta.

CRIME ONLY TAKES OVER WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLOWS IT TO TAKE OVER. Cobb County has allowed far too many places to be taken over by thugs.
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