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Isakson Living Refiles Rezoning Request

A leading civic activist is "disappointed" revised plans weren't presented to community leaders beforehand.

Kevin Isakson of Isakson Living met with the East Cobb Civic Association before the original rezoning application, but didn't run revised plans by the group before refiling on Tuesday. Photo: Wendy Parker
Kevin Isakson of Isakson Living met with the East Cobb Civic Association before the original rezoning application, but didn't run revised plans by the group before refiling on Tuesday. Photo: Wendy Parker
Isakson Living has refiled a rezoning request for a senior residential complex in East Cobb far sooner than it initially indicated.

And without presenting the revisions to community groups that opposed the original proposal.

Kevin Isakson, the development firm's director of sales and marketing, told East Cobb Patch this morning that a new application for continuing care retirement community rezoning was filed with the Cobb Planning Department on Tuesday.

The company run by Isakson, the son of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Andy Isakson, the senator's brother, withdrew the application last month following strong opposition from nearby residential and civic groups, including the influential East Cobb Civic Association

The new proposal on 53 acres of residentially-zoned land next to East Cobb Park and owned by Wylene Tritt is a slimmed-down version of the initial plan, but not by much.

Instead of five-story building heights and 987 total units, the new Isakson Living Proposal with have 15 percent fewer residences, or around 840. 

Buildings along Roswell Road would be limited to three stories, and along the southern edge of the property and adjacent to the Hidden Hills neighborhood the maximum would be two and three stories. 

Interior buildings will be restricted to four stories, and additional green spaces and buffers have been worked in to the revisions.

Parking would be underground in the new proposal.

“We are seeking to be good stewards of both the land and the legacy of this community, so we listened to the community and responded with positive changes in our plan,” Kevin Isakson said in a statement (see attached PDF).

“We believe this new design addresses primary concerns while allowing Isakson Living to design a product for East Cobb seniors that is walkable to the community’s amenities and services with affordable monthly costs.”

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Opponents of the original plan cited density and five-story buildings as a major concern, along with traffic and a 10-year build-out for the project.

News of the refiling caught East Cobb civic leaders and officials off guard, since Kevin Isakson said upon withdrawal that a new application would likely be submitted early next year.

"It took me by surprise," said Jill Flamm, president of the East Cobb Civic Association, who got a call about the refiling late Tuesday. 

She said she was "very disappointed" Isakson Living didn't present revised plans to the community, as her group had requested, prior to refiling.

Ironically, the refiling took place on Tuesday, when its initial application was to have gone before the Cobb Planning Commission. 

The new request was not filed in time for consideration in December, and zoning cases are not heard in Cobb in January. The earliest the new Isakson Living proposal could come up for action would be in February.

Flamm said she couldn't comment on the revised plan because "I have seen nothing. I still haven't seen what they've filed."

After the October withdrawal, some opponents created a group to push for the creation of a public park on the Tritt land, which is located next to East Cobb Park, and for overhauling the CCRC category, which they say is unsuited for a residential area.

East Cobb Patch will be updating this story with further reaction. 

Attached is the official statement from Isakson Living. 
Paul The East Cobb Liberal November 07, 2013 at 09:21 AM
What bothers me is the swiftness with which Isakson reversed his field about coming back next year with a revised proposal and with community input. Why is he back so fast? To me, it smacks of "ok, we've lined up the support we need from Cobb officials so let's move on this now". One can only wonder how that support has been obtained. If this was Gwinnett County we would know that answer for sure so it's not unreasonable to be suspicious. I've lived in East Cobb for 32 years and the traffic makes me ill. I'm also a senior and at some point I may need to live in a community like the one Isakson proposes. There's merit on both sides of this, but it just smacks of a behind closed doors deal where ethics probably took a back seat.
Pete Fordonski November 07, 2013 at 09:28 AM
@Chris In a previous post you speculate about interest rates, diminished quality of life and developers promising big tax revenue. I find it very difficult to look into the future and say with any degree of certainty where interest rates will go. This is a very desired parcel of property and developers will clamor to gain control of it and do what they wish. Thankfully we a current Board of Commissioners that operates with integrity, honesty, and transparency. Who knows what the future may hold? Perhaps a company like Walmart sets their predatory eyes on the property, lawyers up, gets their own people on the board somehow and takes the property under eminent domain. They have done throughout the country with promises of increased tax revenue, it can happen. As far as quality of life, mine is fine thank you. We have amenities here like no where else. We live in a vibrant, well maintained part of Cobb that I would not trade for any other part of Metro Atlanta. Houses fly off the market compared to other places. Does this indicate a quality of life that is diminished? I would answer no. Isakson Living is here and now, with no speculation and is the best answer for this property, just as Mrs. Tritt has stated.
Keith W November 07, 2013 at 10:04 AM
Let's try and stay focused in this discussion shall we? No one is talking about schools in Austell, Smyrna or Mableton. The focus is on that very north and east part of the county commonly referred to as East Cobb and here schools are over crowded. In fact, each of the schools this land is districted in (East Side, Dodgen and Walton) are over capacity as of today even without yet feeling the effects of recent and new home building. And suggesting there would only be 60 homes is pretty funny. It's a good thing we have eyes and can actually see what surrounds the land and what is going up near Lower Roswell and Johnson Ferry. Much more than the 1 per acre that you suggest. But I guess it's probably pointless debating that with you. What there is no debating is that if developed as the Isakson's have planned will be very favorable for our schools. Seniors housing obviously would not contribute any students into the previously mentioned over crowded schools and additionally, as I understand it, would pay the full load of property taxes much of which would go to schools. Contrast that with a subdivision. How many students would be generated by a 200 home subdivision? Certainly more than the Isakson development would. School quality is something we all need to be concerned about even if we don't have kids. Schools continue to be what attracts families to this area. The difference in the impact these alternatives has on schools is clear and significant.
Emily November 07, 2013 at 10:34 AM
I agree, Keith W. The schools that this land is districted in are over capacity. Any single family housing development would simply put more stress on those schools. As far as those arguments about traffic go, the simple fact is that this land WILL be sold. The land owner has thought long and hard, obviously about what she wishes this property should not be developed as. Can you imagine what the traffic would be like if there were a new retail development on this property? This is the best solution for this land…will there be some more traffic than currently because of this development, yes; will there be less traffic than any other option for this property, yes! I think Isakson Living has generously done more than necessary to appease the members of the community who addressed concerns. East Cobb continues to grow because it is such a great community. Let's not spoil that with increased retail development or housing that would over burden our already over capacity schools in the area.
Mavis Conoly November 07, 2013 at 11:10 AM
@Paul Did you read the article? "The new request was not filed in time for consideration in December, and zoning cases are not heard in Cobb in January. The earliest the new Isakson Living proposal could come up for action would be in February." I do believe February is "early 2014", which I believe is when the Isaksons said they would try again. To question ethics of both the Isaksons and the commissioners based on the re-filing is absurd. Perhaps you've been watching too many episodes of "House of Cards".....

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