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East Cobb Health Park Avoids Rezoning

The Kennestone Hospital Authority voted Tuesday to accept land for WellStar's planned facility at Roswell and Providence roads.

WellStar Health System will be able to develop its proposed East Cobb medical complex without going through the Cobb County zoning process.

More than two years after first proposing the East Cobb Health Park, WellStar got the approval to proceed with its plans on Tuesday when the Kennestone Hospital Authority voted to accept a grant of 23 acres of land at Roswell Road and Providence Road West.

The land will be leased back to WellStar, which intends to build an $80 million, 250,000-square-foot East Cobb Health Park. Among the health care services to be provided would include primary, pediatric, geriatric, women's, urgent and other specialty care, physical rehabilitation, medical imaging and lab services, outpatient surgery and wellness programs. There would be no emergency room or traditional hospital inpatient services.

The density and design of the planned three-story structure, as well as surrounding greenspace and traffic flow in and out of the complex, have raised substantial community concerns.

But the biggest impediment to WellStar's plans have been objections by Northside Hospital, which has been locked in a protracted battle with WellStar over the development of medical facilities in the northern Atlanta suburbs. Northside has filed suit against WellStar over the outpatient surgery component.

At his East Cobb town hall meeting Tuesday, Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott said he asked the District 2 Hospital Authority member to vote against the land grant. But according to The Marietta Daily Journal, the vote was unanimous.

"To WellStar's credit, they've spent the last year to a year and a half working with the community," Ott said. "They've assured us they're going to continue to work with the community."

State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-East Cobb), who also was at Ott's meeting, said the main reason WellStar sought to avoid the rezoning process was because of zoning-related litigation over its Acworth Health Park, which opened this summer.

"They didn't want to have that problem again," she said.

She said that that WellStar President and CEO Reynold Jennings, who has been on the job for a year, "is open to some changes in the structure. I feel like we have a really good relationship with him."

But some nearby residents of the Independence Square subdivision told the MDJ they were disappointed with the decision, and think the complex as proposed will have an adverse effect on the community.

WellStar plans to break ground on the East Cobb Health Park next spring.

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