Updated, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday:
Here's what we got this afternoon in response to the Isakson Living news from Doug Rohan of Concerned Citizens Over Isakson Living East Cobb (website, Facebook page):
We welcome the news that IL announced today that it plans to donate 9.5 acres of undeveloped greenspace to East Cobb Park, contingent on finalization of the zoning issues that need to be addressed by Cobb County Government and the Zoning Board. While this is an excellent first step, it does not address or alleviate our primary concerns.
To be sure, this represents a wonderful and easy opportunity to expand the park for all the families that enjoy it. However, the primary objections to the development deal with the high intensity nature of the proposed development, when compared to the low-density residential (LDR) zoning surrounding the development and currently in place for the property.
The revised proposal reduced the number of units per acre from 21 to 18 units. A typical senior living residential area is capped at 5 units per acre and the current LDR zoning allows no more than 2.5 units per acre. With over three times the aggregate density, the current CCRC project proposal still exceeds the reasonable parameters of such a dense project at this East Cobb location.
This land that is slated to be donated to East Cobb Park is designated floodplain and would remain undeveloped regardless of who has ultimate control of the parcel. We are grateful for this gift, but remain concerned over many other issues.
We welcome additional dialogue as we work towards ensuring a healthy and vibrant community for decades to come here in East Cobb. We are sure that such a goal, shared by those steering the IL project, will be one that we can jointly compromise on in order to reach.
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And also late this afternoon, we got this statement from District 2 Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott:
It has not been my practice in District 2, or by most commissioners to discuss zoning issues with press releases or news conferences. It should be discussed during the public comment portion of the zoning hearing.
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Originally posted, 12:20 p.m. Wednesday:
We'll have more reaction later, but Isakson Living announced this morning it is donating nearly 10 acres of land for an expansion of East Cobb Park, contingent upon rezoning (scheduled now for May) for its senior residential complex that's been strongly opposed in the community.
Some opponents have begun "The Friends for Tritt Park" effort to gauge public interest in purchasing and then converting the entire 53.7-acre Tritt property next to East Cobb Park into another passive park.
Isakson Living is under contract to acquire that land from Wylene Tritt, subject to rezoning.
Here's the full text of today's statement from Isakson Living, which also provided the accompanying map:
Cobb County developer Isakson Living today announced that, contingent upon zoning approval and acceptance by the county, the company will donate 9.5 acres of contiguous land to expand East Cobb Park, increasing the park’s size by nearly 50 percent and connecting it to Fuller’s Park.
Isakson Living also intends to invest in improvements to the park, with the approval and under the supervision of the county and the park governing board.
In November, Isakson Living filed a revised application to rezone 53.7 acres in East Cobb County to build a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). In addition to reducing the height and number of homes within the proposed development, Isakson Living’s revised application increased the amount of undisturbed green space to 43 percent of the site, or approximately 23 acres. Isakson Living plans to donate 9.5 acres of this green space to increase the size of East Cobb Park.
The 9.5 acre tract is strategically located between Fuller Park and East Cobb Park, which will better connect and protect the two popular parks. The proposed donation would also preserve and provide better access to Sewell Mill Creek, a popular playground for East Cobb children. The land donation to East Cobb Park is contingent upon approval of the rezoning request and finalization of Isakson Living’s purchase of the Tritt Property.
“The county has made it clear that it cannot afford to invest in additional park space in East Cobb, and I can say from personal experience how difficult it is to raise money for park land,” said Sunny Walker, the park’s first board president and a member of the group that raised funds to purchase land for the existing park. “This is a rare potential gift which will allow many more residents to enjoy both parks by connecting Fuller’s and East Cobb Parks.”
“Having been involved in the development of this park since its inception, and having raised funds for improvements since, I view this offer as an excellent opportunity to enhance and increase the size of the park that might otherwise never be available,” said David London, long-time East Cobb Park supporter and volunteer. “A fifty percent increase in the size of the park is a generous and legacy gift for East Cobb."
“We continue to listen to the community and respond with positive changes to our plan for this state-of-the-art retirement community,” said Kevin Isakson, director of sales and marketing for Isakson Living. “Our plans were to leave this portion of the property as green space, but its best use is to expand East Cobb Park and provide a connection with Fuller’s Park for the enjoyment of Cobb County residents.”
The proposed community will be licensed to accept only residents over the age of 62 but will not qualify for the senior citizen school property tax exemption. “The project will generate $1.4 million annually in property tax revenues for the county, $900,000 of which will go directly to the school system, while adding no additional students to schools,” Isakson added. “It will provide jobs and economic benefits, and support the growing demand for senior housing in Cobb County.”
Since Isakson Living filed for rezoning in May 2013, and withdrew in October 2013, it has conducted numerous meetings with homeowner associations, civic and community groups and qualified prospective residents.
The new plan for Isakson Living’s proposed East Cobb development reduces building heights to two and three stories along Roswell Road and Hidden Hollow, decreases the number of units by 17 percent, increases undisturbed nature areas by 16 percent and increases total green space by 17 percent. Most parking has been placed below grade level.
The new plan provides significant green space between the proposed buildings, existing neighborhoods, and East Cobb Park. Buildings, driveways and parking will occupy approximately 25 percent of the 53.7 acre property, which means about 70 percent will remain green space.
More than 43 percent of the site will remain in an undisturbed state, including preservation of 1,600 trees, twice as many as required and not including those required to remain in flood plain.