The final presentation by the WellStar Health System for its East Cobb Health Park before next month's groundbreaking has eased some of the major concerns of nearby residents.
At an East Cobb citizens advisory committee meeting earlier this month, the Marietta health care provider detailed revised plans that address traffic, density and architectural issues that have marked nearly three years of discussions and haggling.
Perhaps the biggest change by WellStar was creating traffic access on Roswell Road instead of Providence Road West, part of the initial proposal which had drawn significant opposition.
The size of the $73 million, three-story, general service outpatient facility on 23 acres has been reduced from 205,000 square feet to 162,000 square feet.
And the WellStar presentation (see attached PDF) features renderings of a stone-brick architectural base and landscaping with several types of trees, including Southern Magnolias, Japanese Cedars and American Holly.
"They have made some adjustments that have better accommodated the neighborhood," said Lee O'Neal of the Independence Square neighborhood that's adjacent to the property on Providence Road. "There's no getting around that it's going to be a big building, but they've mitigated it a bit."
On Wednesday, O'Neal briefed East Cobb Civic Association members of the revisions.
The ECCA was among the community organizations expressing multiple concerns over the initial health park proposal. At an ECCA meeting two years ago, WellStar officials took plenty of heat from residents who thought the plans weren't clear, especially on traffic and density matters.
WellStar avoided the Cobb rezoning process and received the final go-ahead to proceed in December when the Kennestone Hospital Authority accepted the land as a grant and agreed to lease it back.
"It is what it is," said O'Neal, a member of the WellStar citizens advisory committee and an ECCA officer, referring to the lengthy process as well as the result.
WellStar's plans for the Roswell Road access point will include a median cut and a traffic signal between Providence Road West and Robinson Road East.
Another change that O'Neal applauded was WellStar's plans to tilt one side of the building away from residential areas along Providence Road. That edge of the property also will be landscaped with trees, according to a conceptual master plan.
Construction is expected to begin in May, with completion scheduled for September 2014.
The only remaining legal issue is an April hearing before the Georgia Court of Appeals on WellStar's application for an outpatient surgery certificate of need.
The East Cobb Health Park is one component of a vast building and expansion plan by WellStar, which opened a health park in Acworth last year. Other health parks are planned for Smyrna-Vinings and South Cherokee by late 2015.
For the moment, nearby residents report that some dirt "is being kicked around" on WellStar's East Cobb land in preparation for groundbreaking. A specific date has not been announced.
And a vacant home on the property also is being used by the Cobb County Fire Department for training exercises that will end on Friday.