Developments draw opposition: Acworth, east Cobb sites facing citizen criticism
by Ricky Leroux
August 07, 2014 04:00 AM | 9273 views | 20 20 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Planned new developments in Acworth and east Cobb have elicited strong opposition from residents living near the proposed sites.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday voted 5-0 to postpone a proposed 195-home, $80-million development set to be built on a 137-acre tract off Paul Samuel and Acworth Due West roads in Acworth.

The board also voted 5-0 to approve a 10-home development to be built on a 6.5-acre tract near the intersection of Shallowford Road and Westfield Walk east Cobb.

The Acworth development, which would build homes priced in the $500,000 to $700,000 range, will be reconsidered at the Planning Commission’s Sept. 4 meeting. The $12 million east Cobb development advances for final action before the Cobb Board of Commissioners on Aug. 12.

Acworth residents say they are concerned about the 195-home development’s impact on the area’s roads and schools, and neighbors of the east Cobb development are worried about construction’s effect on their property.

The rezoning request for the Acworth property drew a large number of critics. The request to rezone the property fwould allow the developers — JW Homes LLC, a division of Smyrna-based John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods — to build a larger number of homes on the site by setting them on smaller lots, provided the developer includes a certain amount of open space on the tract.

A site of this size would require 48 acres of open space to be considered for rezoning, according to John Pederson, zoning division manager for the county. The site plan for the Acworth development includes about 53 acres, he added.

The rezoning request on behalf of Marietta-based Traton Homes LLC for a property in east Cobb on Shallowford Road near Westfield Walk was opposed by the site’s neighbors, who claimed the construction would destroy a tree line separating the properties.

Kevin Moore, the attorney representing both developers, said these kinds of issues are common when a new development is proposed.

“We do find it to be common, but … when you’re representing the quality of development and home builders that we are, with Traton Homes or with John Wieland Homes, we always believe we can address those concerns,” he said.

According to Moore, the current site plan for the $70 to $80 million development in Acworth calls for 195 single-family homes on a 137-acre property, 53 acres of which will be dedicated open space. The homes will average about 4,000 square feet and the lots will average about 17,000 square feet, Moore said.

Some residents say the development is too dense and would like to see the zoning request denied.

Opponents of the development filled the audience; some brought signs with Z-46, the zoning request’s identifying number on the agenda, depicted inside the universal symbol for opposition — a red circle with a line through it. After the matter was voted on by the commissioners, about half the seats in the room were emptied.

Melissa O’Brien, an Acworth resident and stay-at-home parent, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting and shared her concerns the development will have on the area.

O’Brien said the county’s transportation officials are working from traffic studies conducted in 2005 and 2009, which do not reflect the current state of the city’s roads.

“For the DOT person to say that not much has changed is really not true because there are a number of subdivisions that have been built since 2009 that have increased traffic on (Acworth Due West Road),” she said.

She is also worried about the strain 195 new families will have on schools in the area. O’Brien said she contacted Randy Scamihorn and Brad Wheeler of the Cobb County Board of Education to discuss the development’s impact on the school system; she said neither had been contacted about the rezoning application.

“Even though the schools aren’t at capacity, the school system is at capacity in terms of what it’s able to pay for. And so, when it doesn’t even hear from the Planning Commission (about) what developers have for future planning and they’re not made aware of these things, these have huge implications on the future of our schools,” she said.

Additionally, O’Brien said the development is “not in character” for the area, which she said was the reason she was there in the first place.

“We moved to west Cobb for our wide open spaces. And we moved because we wanted larger lots. And because we didn’t want what exists in east Cobb, which is the traffic and smaller lot sizes,” she said.

At the meeting, O’Brien presented the commissioners with a petition signed by 167 residents of her neighborhood expressing opposition to the development.

Skip Gunther, a retired entrepreneur from Kennesaw, was also at the meeting. Afterward, he said he has no problem with new development, but he believes developers should act with more forethought regarding their impact on the community.

“When you build a new development of some sort, there’s an impact on the local infrastructure, and there’s sort of a step-wise impact. It just ratchets up, just like that. The developer typically doesn’t have to pay any kind of a fee to accomplish the incremental expansion of whatever the infrastructure is, whether it’s sewer, or electricity, or water, or schools, or highways, or traffic or whatever,” he said.

Despite the opposition present at the meeting, Moore remains optimistic.

“We plan to continue our discussions with the neighbors and we’ll be making … revisions to the site plan, which will likely result in some reduction in the total number of homes,” he said. “But we remain very positive about the outcome and about being able to address the neighbors’ concerns, as well as the concerns expressed by the Planning Commission.”

Though the rezoning request was held, Moore said the developers hope to begin construction of the homes in early 2015, with the first batch of homes ready for sale about a year later.

Opponents of the $12-million east Cobb development, which is planned to contain 10 single-family homes on 6.5 acres, have more specific concerns — namely, the effect it may have on their yards.

Paul Lamb of Roswell addressed the commissioners as a representative of homeowners in the Coventry Green neighborhood adjacent to the site of the new development.

Lamb’s concern was the tree line separating his neighborhood from the new development. The distance between the property line and the beginning of the new development, called a setback, is too small, he said.

“We need that additional setback back there to prevent any damage to those trees. They’re over three foot in diameter oaks. They’re huge trees; they’re beautiful,” Lamb said. “I don’t want them being trimmed back significantly. I don’t want them trimmed back at all. And I don’t want the root structure underneath to be damaged at all, as well.”

Moore addressed the issue during the meeting, and said the developers will work with the neighbors to find a solution.

“We’ll get with him individually and … maybe we can go tree by tree and work through that,” he said.

Because the rezoning request was approved, Moore said the developers will break ground this fall and put the first homes up for sale in the spring of 2015. The homes will average about 3,600 square feet, be built on lots averaging about 19,000 square feet and cost between $450,000 and $700,000, he added.

Comments
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truthhurtstoday
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September 03, 2014
Weiland tried to do something similar recently in Vinings. He loves to put as many houses as possible on whatever land he can buy. In Vinings, he did the traffic study on a holiday weekend and tried to sneak it in. Fortunately, the project was blocked. Developers like him ruin neighborhoods b/c they have no regard for traffic flow or open spaces.
just a local
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August 08, 2014
re: just sayin

If you think our roadways aren't overcrowded then you're smoking the same stuff that the folks behind the proposed BRT and the 75/575 tolls road are, look it up. They want to direct line Buckhead/Atlanta into Acworth and to shove more growth, people, and tax funded roads down our throats and ask you and me to pay for it. As someone native to GA and lineage generations in Kennesaw we feel strongly thats its overburdened and the roads are overfilled and no we don't want to pay more taxes for more roads to bring more people from somewhere else in. We've been carpetbagged all over again.
Tool Time Tim
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August 10, 2014
When you say "they" you need to be specific. Tim Lee, Mark Matthews, CID proponents, the Cobb Chamber, Faye Demassivo. In their world, they are Republicans, but in our world they are RINO regionalists who raise our taxes and continue to get away with corrupt quasi-governmental deals and quid pro quo.
R. Jones
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August 11, 2014
Let me see, who sold the land to begin with...oh wait, it was the local folks who got a nice chunk of change for it!
mom comment
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August 07, 2014
This is what happens when you all vote Republican. When you vote for less Government, no zoning. No local villages, towns or cities. This is what happens with countywide control of zoning. This has been on going with the Republican take over of the State and Cobb County in particular for years. No Zoning, or limited zoning only benefits the chosen few.

John Wieland for the most part has been a responsible developer and builder, but others have not. Traton is not even in the same quality category as Weilands baby toe. Just google complaints by home owners. Do you want manufactured homes made in their Mayretta factory by illegals, they just don't transport them on a steel frame and wheels to the site.

Trayton destroyed the value of my neighboring home by $300K with their pieces of crap built in a Wilmont Williams neighborhood ( John's Brother). Their are many more of these horror stories where they undercut the value of existing homes. Of Course, this won't get printed, every time I write the truth about Traton it does not get published.
R.B.Chan
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August 08, 2014
May I make a correction? I live in a John Wieland home and if he's a top builder I'd hate to see the worst. The workmanship of my home is pathetic. So many code violations I can't count them all. The home was 2 years old when I purchased it. Going on his reputation, I did not have professional inspection. Big mistake. Before purchase, I raised questions on several defects. The Wieland response was, "This house was built to building code so it's been built correctly." Lied to my face. They do not care. Buyer beware. Habitat for Humanity homes are better built than a John Wieland home.
mom comment
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August 09, 2014
@R.B. Chan you were frankly a cheap fool not having an inspection. I an engineering and Architect always hire a home inspector, plus take several of my friends by what I am buying. Less than $500 is too little to cut corners on .

The building code in Cobb County is a minimum code. I would never buy a house constructed to only minimum code. For example, I would never design a house with 2x4 trusses. This is tornado alley. All my houses have had 2x8 roof joists with hurricane tie downs ( mechanical fastners).
just a local
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August 07, 2014
NO! TO MORE HOMES!

Enough is enough already! West Cobb is being pillaged by these home developers. The road systems do not support the growth or the postponed developments that sit idle after acre upon acre is destroyed for nothing but greed. WE NEED NO MORE PEOPLE IN NW GA AND ATLANTA METRO! West Cobb is not East Cobb or Gwinnett/ Atlanta for a reason! Quit compounding the traffic and growth problems in my hometown. There has to be a limit to it, it's out of hand! If the native locals and families of generation to West Cobb and Kennesaw really had a say they would tell you to go away homebuilders!
Support qual. bldrs.
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August 10, 2014
Lady, I get you HOWEVER, your kind has been around as long as developers have been building in Cobb. Get over it. You chose this town and if you don't want traffic, move to Hahira. What gives you the right to be here and complain that others should be kept out?



As for John Wieland, I worked for this company for years in the 1980s and was proud to represent him in marketing. Maybe there are a few houses out there which haven't been cared for over the years, and someone was too cheap to have an inspection, but Wieland homes come with a ten year warranty, one of the best in the business and he stands by his work. He also (not sure if he still) does adjacent homeowners courtesy of letting them know what's being built, unlike others who just start chopping the trees down. This development should happen, with county guidelines, and neighbors who chose east Cobb should stop bashing one of its premier builders of great neighborhoods.
just a local
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August 07, 2014
How about we don't allow the developer to destroy more of West Cobb for his pursuit of being filthy stinking rich? Its not improving the area, it's infringing on the lifestyles of the people that have been here and every dang new developement coming in compounds it further! I'm about sick and tired of seeing neighborhood after neighborhood being put in and acre after acre raped by homebuilders so they can attract more transplants to NW GA! Our infrastructure does not support it and citizens have already voted NO to being taxed more to pay for more roads! Is there no oversight on this, is there no end, why should this be allowed? Short answer- it shouldn't, period. I live on Stilesboro Rd and cant even turn into my driveway in the evening because I have to wait on traffic to move, it's maxed out people! I grew up in Kennesaw, and have watched it be transformed into a yuppy metropolis from a quiet,close knit area of NW GA. If they would ask the people that have been here for generations they would find out that they wish you would go somewhere else! VOTE NO TO Z-46! Better yet, don't allow it, the roads and schools cannot support it! The natives detest you developers. That is all.
Butler Reynolds
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August 07, 2014
I love these guys who want more "green space". No, you don't want more green space, you just want a bigger yard without having to pay for it.
skip gunther
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August 07, 2014
This is a community-wide action -- more than 300 local residents want responsible development on this parcel. It has nothing to do with any single individual, it is all of us. To learn more, follow the Facebook page 'No West Cobb Rezoning -- Preserve West Cobb' where you can sign up to receive updates to the rezoning application. We stand for responsible development and are confident that the Commissioners and the applicant will respond favorably to the concerns they have heard.
West Cobb Neighbor
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August 07, 2014
A 195-home subdivision on that intersection will mean 400 more cars on roads that can ill-handle it now. The traffic studies are old, and there is very little, if any, buildable land on that parcel. The developer just wants to get the maximum number of houses in there without thought of its lasting implications on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Just Sayin'....
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August 07, 2014
The property off of Paul Samuels will be developed at some point, and it would be better to have a company who is trying to be responsible to develop it rather than some of the alternative choices. This frenzy was fed by a gentleman who bought a house that backs up to this property, who did so knowing it was a large tract of private property that could be developed someday. Now that the day is here, he is upset. Keep in mind he is also a real-estate agent....oh the irony of that.
just a local
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August 07, 2014
Why should it be developed? Why can't it be left to stand in it's natural state? Maybe developers shouldn't be continually allowed to destroy the wooded acres of West Cobb and NW GA any longer. Do you really think we need to bring more population here? It's a zoo now, totally out of control with no limitations to the sprawl. Get real, if it was your hometown, would you support it being mowed down and built on top of?
Gringo Bandito
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August 07, 2014
Just a local - Why do you think you are entitled to tell a property owner that they can't develop it because you like the way it looks now?
Just Sayin'....
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August 07, 2014
re: Just A Local: First of all, it is my hometown and it is where I have chosen to raise and educate my children. I am not someone who is "passing" through. Unless some of you fellow West Cobb residents have about 10 million dollars lying around to purchase this property to preserve it....which by the way is a conservative estimate of it's value...then step aside and realize that it will eventually be developed. Better it be developed by a company that will be responsible for doing a nicer project than one that will come in and build 200 boxes and sell them for the lowest common price.

That being said, I would love it if it were to stay a large green space. I just see what is headed our way in the future, and rest assured it is not a pastoral farm scene. Growth is coming and better we deal with it reasonably than not deal with it at all.

For those of you who think that by saying it will affect our schools and our roads and our way of life, thank you for bringing it to the attention of the entire county that our schools, when compared to most of the others in the county, are not over-crowded. The same for our roads. Now you have the attention of the School Board who would love to redistrict anyway, and the attention of our county government who loves a good road project or two. Your short sightedness just opened a whole new can of worms.

Last but not least, to those of you who are organizing, I would not be shocked if the majority of you lived in the neighborhood immediately behind this project, as I never heard so much as a squeak from any of you when permits were applied for and granted to the larger parcels currently under development on Stilesboro, on the corner of Kennesaw Due West and Stilesboro, or on Hadaway. If you were truly concerned about growth, where were you then?! I also wonder where you will be when the property on Stilesboro across from our new park gets sold and developed. Plan ahead, I think they want 14 million dollars for that one!!!
Fact Checker
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August 07, 2014
The proposed development is in Kennesaw and not Acworth.
FLG
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August 07, 2014
I am not sure where the above comment came from -- this is a community-wide effort of more than 300 near-by residents (and growing -- see our FaceBook page at 'No West Cobb Rezoning - Preserve West Cobb') who are asking for responsible development. We expect to work with the developer and the County to achieve that. It has nothing to do with any particular property owner who have known for years that eventually this beautiful piece of property would be developed. I am confident JWHomes will do a great job, but it will hopefully be on lot sizes consistent with the contiguous neighborhoods.
casual observer
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August 07, 2014
Yes, it's Kennesaw 30152 and not Acworth. Wonder what else ain't right with this? I live close by - the traffic, already awful on Paul Samuel, Acwoth-Due West and Stilesboro -will certainly be much worse. Suggest contacting Bob Hovey on the Planning Commission and Commissioner Goreham to make your feelings known.
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