Wesley Chapel Road rezoning request continued to September

Revised Z-40 Site Plan

A rezoning request to build 81 homes on Wesley Chapel Road, near Garrison Mill Elementary School, is being continued to September.

The Cobb Planning Commission voted Tuesday to delay the case at the request of the applicant, Brooks Chadwick Capital LLC.

The East Cobb developer wants to build the new subdivision on two slabs totaling nearly 50 acres on either side of Wesley Chapel Road that’s undeveloped, except for two older homes.

The request has generated some community opposition. A group of nearby homeowners and homeowners associations posted an online petition objecting to the proposal’s density, along with concerns over school capacity, traffic close to a school and stormwater and wildlife issues

Those individuals and groups weren’t identified, by Catherine Kommer, a nearby resident, told East Cobb News that the homes in the proposed development are “very close and leave little room for trees. It is an unhealthy plan. I would hope that air quality and health would be in the forefront of everyone’s minds with respect to the corona virus. It’s hard to understand accepting a plan that would hinder air quality in the middle of a pandemic.”

She’s written a letter to that effect to Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell (the rezoning also includes Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott’s district).

Also delayed until September is a request by Site Partners LLC, the owner of the Sandy Plains Village Shopping Center, to convert part of that retail center for townhomes and retail space.

Cobb Zoning Staff is continuing the request after the applicant revised its site plan last week. The case was initially delayed from July, after staff recommended denial, saying the townhomes were incompatible with nearby single-family communities and traffic concerns.

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Virtual town hall scheduled for Sprayberry Crossing rezoning

Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell sends along word this morning that she’s scheduled a virtual town hall meeting for the Sprayberry Crossing rezoning case that’s coming up in September.

She said the town hall will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 12, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and will include Judy Williams, her appointment to the Cobb Planning Commission, and representatives from the Cobb Zoning Staff.

Although citizens will be invited to comment and ask questions, Birrell said she and Williams will not be offering opinions. That’s standard procedure in zoning cases.

Atlanta apartment builder Atlantic Residential is planning a mixed-use development on 18 acres where blighted shopping center has stood for years.

At a July virtual town hall, the developer offered its latest revisions to a proposal that would include 178 general and 122 senior-living rentals, 50 townhomes, a major grocery store, other retail, an outdoor entertainment and food hall and community greenspace.

(You can find more information at the Sprayberry Crossing website.)

The rezoning request can be found here; it’s an application for what’s called a redevelopment overlay district category. What that means is that the kind of development contained in the request—especially five-story residential buildings that have generated some community opposition—shall not establish a precedent for future land use or rezoning matters in the nearby area.

The Cobb Zoning Staff has not yet produced an analysis or made a recommendation.

The WebEx link to register for Birrell’s town hall can be found here; you can contact your office with questions at [email protected] or call 770-528-3318.

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Wesley Chapel Road rezoning would allow 81-home subdivision

One of the last rural outposts on Wesley Chapel Road could soon be plowed under for a new subdivision.

Brooks Chadwick Capital LLC, an East Cobb developer, has filed a rezoning request for nearly 50 acres that will be heard Tuesday by the Cobb Planning Commission.

The undeveloped land owned by Glennis F. Willis is zoned R-30 and R-20, lower-density categories. But the applicant is seeking R-15 density to build 81 single-family homes on those tracts.

(You can request the agenda item here. The site plan has been revised and that is shown below.)

The properties, which are fronted by older homes, are just above Garrison Mill Elementary School (at the bottom of the aerial map above) and just below Mabry Park.

According to Cobb Tax Assessor’s records, the two parcels of Willis land have appraised values of $1.5 million and $1.3 million.

Revised Z-40 Site Plan
For a larger version of the site plan click here.

There is R-15 zoning in nearby subdivisions, and the Cobb Zoning Staff is recommending approval of the application with some modifications.

They include providing left-turn lanes onto either side of the subdivision, and for deceleration lanes for right-hand turns.

Brooks Chadwick’s attorney, Kevin Moore, submitted a stipulation letter earlier this week that calls for homes to be at least 3,000 square feet.

The developer also will conduct sediment studies before and after the development of the downstream lake at the nearby Loch Highland community, and provide copies to the homeowners association.

Another stipulation would limit construction hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

However, Moore contends that his client shouldn’t be required to build left-turn lanes because of a lack of right-of-way needed for that, and that deceleration lanes “shall only be required to the extent public-right-of way is available.”

(You can read the full letter here.)

Willis House Wesley Chapel Road
The Willis homestead that faces Wesley Chapel Road.

The developer didn’t indicate a price range, but newer homes in that area are generally valued in the $700,000-$900,000 range.

In recent years that part of Wesley Chapel Road has begun to build out with similarly-priced developments. That includes Mabry Grove, which was once included the homestead of the expansive Mabry Farm, and whose first homes opened last year.

Across the road, there’s still a little more than 40 acres surrounding Mabry Park that’s in Mabry family hands, and that like the Willis property, contains a single-family home on largely conservation land.

In another East Cobb case Tuesday, the Planning Commission will hear a delayed request to rezone part of the Sandy Plains Village Shopping Center for a 41-townhome development and a freestanding restaurant/retail space.

That proposal was shelved last month by planning staff, and the retail center owner, Site Centers Corp., has submitted revised plans (see below) and produced a traffic study.

(You can read about the revisions here.)

Z-37 revised site plan
For a larger version of the site plan click here.

The Planning Commission also is expected to make its recommendation for the Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan, which has been in development for the last couple of years.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the second-floor board room of the Cobb government building, 100 Cherokee St., in downtown Marietta. It will be livestreamed on Cobb TV, the county’s public cable access channel (also on Channel 24 on Comcast) and on Facebook Live.

Like its zoning cases, the planning commission’s votes are advisory, and the Cobb Board of Commissioners will make final decisions on Aug. 18.

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Sprayberry Crossing rezoning case scheduled for September

Sprayberry Crossing revisions

The Sprayberry Crossing plans for a mixed-use development have been filed with the Cobb Zoning Office, and they’re scheduled to be heard in September.

A rezoning application filed earlier this month (you can read it here) indicates that the Sprayberry Crossing Partnership wants to keep the neighborhood shopping (NS) and planned shopping center (PSC) categories and also is applying for what’s called a redevelopment overlay district (ROD) designation.

That means means that the kind of development contained within that district shall not establish a precedent for future land use or rezoning matters in the nearby area.

The nearly 18 acres at East Piedmont Road and Sandy Plains Road has been blighted for years, and is listed on the county’s redevelopment list, as residents have pushed for cleanup and redevelopment.

Atlantic Residential, an Atlanta-based apartment builder, is planning 178 apartment units, 122 senior apartments and 50 for-sale townhomes to go with a 30,000-square foot national grocery store (still unnamed by the developer, which is in negotiations), other retail and co-working space, an entertainment and food hall and community greenspace.

Earlier this month Atlantic Residential president Richard Aaronson held a virtual town hall meeting to explain the plans (more details here), which have been revised to include five-story buildings for the rental units, up from 3-4 stories earlier.

The meeting and discussions within the community have been facilitated by the creators of the Sprayberry Crossing Acition Group on Facebook and that has around 5,700 members.

The community is largely single-family residential, and that’s brought out some opposition from those opposed to apartments, even with the possible ROD designation.

(Here’s the ROD application, and while it’s a whopping 86 pages, much of that is detailed descriptions of property. The developer has hired prominent Cobb zoning attorney Kevin Moore.)

Tim Carini of Residents Against Apartments at Sprayberry Crossing told East Cobb News he still thinks the density of the project is too much, as are five-story buildings. “I want the suburbs and not an urban feel,” he said.

He’s also concerned that Atlantic Residential could eventually sell the development, as it has with a previous property it built in Johns Creek, and that the proposed townhomes at Sprayberry Crossing might also end up being rentals.

Joe Glancy of the Sprayberry Crossing Action Group said he’s still learning about the ROD aspect to the zoning and expects that “the site plan will continue to evolve through the [rezoning] process.”

Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said she’s planning on holding a town hall meeting in virtual form before the rezoning cases are heard, likely in August, but hasn’t scheduled a date.

The Cobb Planning Commission will hear the case on Sept. 1 and make a recommendation to the Cobb Board of Commissioners, which meets on Sept. 15.

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Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan public hearings, adoption scheduled

Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan public hearings

We noted in late April about a review period for the Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan that’s been in development for the last couple of years, and now public hearings have been scheduled in August.

The plan covers all aspects of community development, including land use, greenspace, transportation and stormwater management.

What’s called the JOSH Small-Area Plan (here’s a storymap produced for the review period) will be presented next month to the Cobb Planning Commission and the Cobb Board of Commissioners, which is set to adopt the plan.

The Planning Commission will hear the plan presentation at its Aug. 4 meeting. Like the zoning cases it hears, the board will make a recommendation to county commissioners, who also will hear the plan and are scheduled to vote on adoption on Aug. 25.

After multiple public meetings and written feedback, Cobb government staff released a draft of the master plan proposal last summer.

The process has been similar to the Johnson Ferry Design Guidelines and the Powers Ferry Master Plan in East Cobb in recent years.

The master plan proposal for JOSH stresses the heavy single-family residential nature of the community, and provides several possible scenarios for the major developmental issue in the area—the redevelopment of the area around Maddox Lake, at the southwestern corner of the Johnson Ferry-Shallowford intersection.

That’s a 30-acre assemblage for rezoning that went before the Cobb Board of Commissioners as a proposed townhome and single-family residential development before the request was withdrawn in early 2017.

The options presented in the JOSH storymap include redevelopment as a community park and stormwater management facility, with multi-family residential and some retail and restaurant space.

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Sandy Plains Village townhome proposal delayed until August

Sandy Plains Village townhomes

A proposal to rezone a portion of the Sandy Plains Village shopping center for townhomes is being delayed at least for a month.

The Cobb Zoning Office sought the continuance after initially recommending denial of an application by the retail center’s owners, Site Centers Corp., for 41 residential units, plus some additional retail space (previous ECN post here.)

That case was to have been heard Tuesday by the Cobb Planning Commission. Instead, consideration has been pushed back to the planning board’s Aug. 4 meeting.

Site Centers wants to convert a vacant 67,000-square-foot retail space that was to have been an indoor entertainment center into the residential development.

(You can read the filing and staff analysis here.)

In its analysis, zoning staff said the proposal doesn’t conform with the Cobb County Comprehensive Plan. Site Centers is seeking a planned village community (PVC) designation at a property zoned for neighborhood retail commercial (NRC).

The staff said that other residential and commercial properties are zoned for a lower density and would be adversely affected by the townhomes.

The nearby Chatsworth subdivision has single-family homes zoned for 1.68 units an acre. The townhome density as proposed would be 2.57 units an acre.

Traffic issues also concerned zoning staff, which recommended the applicant conduct a traffic study to gauge the impact for a heavily used trio of roads that surround the shopping center—Sandy Plains Road, Woodstock Road and Mabry Road.

The latter is being recommended as the entry point for the townhomes, but zoning staff said that’s too close (20 feet) to the intersection of Mabry and Woodstock, and suggested the applicant make significant changes to provide “uninterrupted access distance.”

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Sprayberry Crossing plans: 5-story buildings, more greenspace

Sprayberry Crossing revisions

The developer of a proposed mixed-use project at the Sprayberry Crossing Shopping Center explained those plans and answered questions from the community Wednesday in the first public meeting on the subject.

In a Zoom call that included more than 100 participants, and others who took part via telephone and chat, Richard Aaronson of Atlantic Residential said that more revisions have taken place since another site plan was released last week.

It’s the latest version of a project that would contain 30,000 square feet for a national grocery store, retail and co-working/office space, townhomes, apartments, senior rentals and an entertainment and food hall, as well as community greenspace.

(Here’s the Sprayberry Crossing redevelopment page, which contains regular updates.)

Aaronson said talks are proceeding with a national grocer he would not identify, and those talks center on the store having visibility from Sandy Plains Road.

“We’re not under contract yet,” he said. “They do have a number of stores in the Atlanta market.

The 23-acre property is fronted on Sandy Plains by several outparcel standalone businesses.

That’s one reason Aaronson said in response to a citizen’s question that the proposed project isn’t more of a pure retail nature, like the new Sandy Plains MarketPlace a few miles away.

He also said one reason why the blighted current shopping center has stood there for years is because the current owners have been trying to sell it with retail in mind.

And in a time in which retail is experiencing decline, Aaronson added, “this seemed to be the only logical way to redevelop this property.”

The biggest change from the last site plan is a “reimagined” concept that stresses what’s being called “pedestrian interaction.”

Atlantic Residential, which is an Atlanta-based apartment developer, called in Lew Oliver, an architect who’s worked on town center projects in Marietta, Roswell and Woodstock. He’s also the town urbanist for Serenbe, in south Fulton, and the Vickery, a walkable community in north Atlanta.

The latest site plan (below) incorporates public feedback for more greenspace around an old family cemetery at the center of the property.

That will be preserved with new fencing, Aaronson said, as will trees in the vicinity. The cemetery issues also made it “impossible,” he said, to consider full-scale retail, since many family members of those buried there didn’t want their remains removed.

Sprayberry Crossing site plan 7.1.20
To view a larger map, click here.

“The focus is to create community, promote pedestrianism and have this be a win-win for the developer and the community,” Oliver said during the call.

In order to add more greenspace there and in the residential areas of the project, 5-story buildings are being proposed for the apartments and the senior-living units. They initially were slated to be between two and four stories, with the first floor for retail and amenities.

Aaronson said the density hasn’t changed, and the architectural revisions call for flattening the roofs.

When a citizen asked if condominiums could be build instead of apartments, Aaronson said there isn’t the demand for them, especially in suburban areas of metro Atlanta.

“We’re trying to create a housing type that there’s demand for,” he said.

But questions of owner-occupancy have been raised frequently by nearby residents in a community that’s dominated by single-family neighborhoods.

Atlantic Residential has come down on the number of apartments, from 195 to 178. Another 122 senior “flats” are being proposed, as are 50 for-sale townhomes.

The apartment rents would range between $1,400 and $2,400 (between 700 and 1,100 square feet, respectively), and 75 percent of them would be studio or one-bedroom apartments; the rest would have two bedrooms.

The townhome cost range would be around $400,000 for units ranging between 2,000 and 2,800 square feet.

Traffic concerns also have been raised as the Sprayberry Crossing plans have taken shape.

On the call, Aaronson said Atlantic Residential commissioned a traffic study that showed a moderate increase in traffic, of about three seconds of additional traffic light wait times at peak periods.

The results of that study, which was conducted before traffic volumed dropped due to COVID-19 closures, are to be posted soon on the Sprayberry Crossing website.

Aaronson said he envisions the entertainment and food hall (upper left in the map) to be run by an independent operator, and that live music and performances would be a major part of the equation.

Atlantic Residential needs to get rezoning from the Cobb Board of Commissioners, and filing is expected to begin soon, with possible hearings and action in the fall.

A tentative timeline calls for planning and design completion finished by the spring and demolition of the current site by next summer. The first phase would be completed by 2023.

The Sprayberry Crossing Action Facebook group has more of a summary and links to Wednesday’s Zoom call and audience questions.

There’s also a Facebook group that’s formed that opposes apartments coming to Sprayberry Crossing.


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Sprayberry Crossing redevelopment public town hall scheduled

Sprayberry Crossing
To see a larger view, click here.

The potential redeveloper of the Sprayberry Crossing Shopping Center has done another revision of its proposed mixed-use project and has scheduled a virtual public town hall meeting for next week to go over the plans.

What’s now being called the Sprayberry Neighborhood Center is still anchored by a 30,000-square foot national grocery space, rental units and townhomes.

Additional neighborhood retail space has been added, as have some affordable housing options.

Shane Spink of the Sprayberry Crossing Action Group said the public town hall will take place next Wednesday, July 1, at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.

The plans by Atlantic Residential, an Atlanta-based apartment developer, have more of a residential mixed than what it proposed back in April (below).

Sprayberry Crossing site plan

What’s scaled down are the townhomes, from 56 to 36, with the addition of a dozen or so “mews units” and a handful of micro homes.

An apartment building originally set for 195 units was cut to around 177, and there’s another building for 120 rental units for those age 55 and older.

The last site plan called for 8,200 square feet of retail space and 12,000 more square feet of co-working space. The new renderings total around 16,000 square feet for retail.

The revised plans also call for 707 parking spaces, residential amenities and a multi-use trail.

Atlantic Residential still needs to get rezoning for its final plan.

After the April site plan revision, Atlantic Residential took public feedback and responded to various questions, saying it intended to come back to the community for a public meeting.

Due to COVID-19, that will be taking place online. Here’s how participate in the public town hall on Zoom, by clicking here. The Meeting ID is 873 1849 1772.

Spink said more details about the call will be coming soon.

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Sandy Plains Village owners propose townhomes, new retail

Sandy Plains Village townhomes
41 townhomes and 98 parking spaces—at left—would take up part of Sandy Plains Village.

An early look at Cobb zoning files for July shows some major changes afoot at the Sandy Plains Village Shopping Center in Northeast Cobb.

Last March the retail center’s owner got rezoning for an indoor entertainment center in a 67,000-square-foot space where a Wal-Mart grocery once stood.

But the Ignite Adventure Park will not be constructed there after all, according to a preliminary filing with the Cobb Zoning office (it’s the first application).

The Cobb Planning Commission will hear those cases on July 7.

Site Centers Corp. is applying to rezone a 15.95-acre portion of the shopping center on Woodstock Road from neighborhood retail center (NRC) to planned community village (PVC) to allow for the residential units.

The plans call for 41 two-story “upscale, traditionally designed” townhomes, between 1,800 and 2,200 square feet, with access on Mabry Road, according to a site plan filed with the original application.

The only other details filed for now are included in a “statement of intent” from Site Centers indicating that “the retail marketplace has seen a decrease in in-store sales over the last few years and the amount of physical retail space continues to decline.”

Given business closures in the wake of COVID-19, some retailers “will certainly see a lessened chance of survival,” according to the Site Centers statement, which was signed by prominent Cobb zoning attorney Garvis Sams.

Sandy Plains Village is anchored by a Movie Tavern, and also includes a Dollar Tree discount store, several restaurants and a Firestone store.

Those won’t be affected by the residential plans, which Site Centers said will provide a “pedestrian friendly atmosphere” to be designed to connect to adjacent retail.

There aren’t any townhomes in the vicinity. Right behind the vacant retail space is the Chatsworth subdivision, which is zoned R-15, a single-family residential category.

The additional retail plans weren’t detailed.

Since the filings are preliminary, there isn’t yet a staff analysis or recommendation on whether the application should be approved, modified or denied.


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Empty East Cobb retail building subject of sex shop concerns

East Cobb sex shop
Commercially-zoned property with a building that housed a Mattress Firm store at 1290 Johnson Ferry Road was purchased in February for $1.55 million (ECN photo)

A vacant retail building located in the heart of East Cobb has a new owner and is being renovated for a new use.

What that use may end up being has been the subject of a flurry of social media chatter in recent days about whether a sex shop is on the way.

Specifically, the subject of that speculation is that a new location of Atlanta-based Tokyo Valentino—with five adult retail stores in the metro area, including the city of Marietta—is replacing the former Mattress Firm store at 1290 Johnson Ferry Road, across from Merchant’s Walk. 

Cobb County business license records and a pending building permit application indicate plans for a retail store at that address called 1290 Clothing Co.

That business also has registered as a corporation with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office as 1290 Clothing, LLC, and lists the same registered agent as Cheshire Bridge Holdings, LLC, the parent company of Tokyo Valentino.

Michael Morrison, the Tokyo Valentino owner who has battled the city of Atlanta and other local jurisdictions for years over his businesses, is named in the 1290 Clothing Co. business formation documents as organizer and authorizer.

But he denied he is opening a new store in East Cobb.

In a public statement issued Monday, Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott said he has received more than 500 messages from citizens about the subject, and said there is nothing the county can do if a sex shop is coming to that building on Johnson Ferry Road.  

The half-acre on which it sits is zoned general commercial, the broadest of the commercial zoning categories in Cobb County, and includes most kinds of retail shops.

“Unfortunately, due to the zoning already in place on the property dating back to the late 70s, it appears that the retail shop meets all county code requirements,” Ott said in his message. “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow a county to come in and arbitrarily change existing zoning and/or add stipulations.”

He also said that contrary to some of the citizens’ queries he’s received, the matter will not come before the Cobb Board of Commissioners during its Tuesday regular meeting.

“That is not true,” Ott said. “There is nothing on the agenda tomorrow related to this store.”

A new business license was granted by the Cobb Community Development Agency on March 11 for 1290 Clothing Co., at 1290 Johnson Ferry Road, to an applicant named Tomika Hugley.

According to Cobb building permit records, an application for a renovation at that same address was filed on May 14 by Pembroke Real Estate Partners, LLC, in Miami.

That’s the company listed in Cobb Tax Assessors Office records as the Feb. 4 buyer of 0.53 acres and a building with 5,444 square feet at 1290 Johnson Ferry Road, for $1.55 million.

Building permit records indicate the renovation project is described as a “move-in only” for the tenant “1290 Clothing Co.” but no inspection has been conducted.

1290 Johnson Ferry Road map

When contacted by East Cobb News Friday about whether he’s opening a store in East Cobb, Morrison said, “I have no idea what you are referring to.”

He said that “any applications that we submit for future stores have my name on them” and noted his store in Marietta, and that he was not involved with the 1290 Clothing Co. enterprise.

According to a Georgia Secretary of State’s business filing, 1290 Clothing Co. LLC  was registered on Jan. 21, 2020. The filing names Michael Morrison as the 1290 Clothing Co. organizer and authorizer, with an Atlanta residential address located off LaVista Road in DeKalb County.

East Cobb News has been unable to reach Hugley or Rebecca Crider, the registered agent for the new store on Johnson Ferry Road. Crider also is the registered agent for other Tokyo Valentino businesses, including the Marietta store, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Many of the social media comments about the new Johnson Ferry Road store have come on a Facebook group, East Cobb Moms Exchange. East Cobb News has been contacted by some members of the group and other citizens, but none could provide further information. 

An online petition urging readers to contact Ott has received more than 1,000 signatures.

In 1998, the city of Atlanta first tried to shut down Morrison’s original store on Cheshire Bridge Road, which opened in 1995 and was called Inserection, because of its video booths, massage rooms and private bedrooms.

In 2014, Morrison—who served two-and-a-half years in prison for federal income tax invasion in the mid-2000s—rebranded his business Tokyo Valentino and opened new locations.

In 2019, the city of Atlanta again tried to shut down his Cheshire Bridge Road businessLast summer a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled in favor of Morrison in his challenge to the city’s injunction against his business. 

Last year Morrison opened a store in Sandy Springs, also in an abandoned mattress store building, initially saying it would be a dancer clothing store under a different name.

The city claimed the store violated its merchandising code by having more than a quarter of its square footage space devoted to adult merchandise sales. 

Morrison, who also has had legal disputes with Brookhaven over his Stardust adult retail store, eventually complied in December by adding non-adult items at the Sandy Springs store, now called Tokyo Valentino.

There are two other Tokyo Valentino stores, on Northside Drive in Buckhead and on Pleasant Hill Road in Gwinnett County.

Ott said his staff visited the Tokyo Valentino store in Marietta, at 345 South Cobb Parkway, and said it’s strictly a retail store, unlike what’s on Cheshire Bridge Road. 

The Marietta location sells adult lingerie, sex toys, body art and jewelry, books and DVDs, smoking accessories and novelty gifts and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Tokyo Valentino Marietta
The Tokyo Valentino store in Marietta is located at Cobb Parkway and Frey’s Gin Road, across from the Marietta Diner. (ECN photo)

Pembroke Real Estate Partners, the new owner of the 1290 Johnson Ferry Road property, is a registered corporation in Florida, and whose principal is listed as Frank Koretsky. 

According to his personal website, Koretsky has added real estate investing and philanthropy to his business interests.

He has sold consumer electronics and video tapes and built up two adult video distribution companies, International Video Distribution and East Coast News, which “now exist as the largest entities in their respective industries.” 

Koretsky also is a holder in adult lingerie and sex toy businesses.

On Monday Ott reminded East Cobb residents of community opposition to a We Buy Gold store on Lower Roswell Road near Johnson Ferry Road several years ago. 

“There was a large outcry about that store coming to East Cobb,” he said. “Then, like now, there wasn’t anything the county could do because it met all the code requirements. That store is now an ice cream shop in large part because in a very short period it became obvious to the owners that the people weren’t interested in having that business in their community.”


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Cobb commissioners to hear zoning cases after 3-month delay

Cobb state of emergency

For the first time since February, the Cobb Board of Commissioners will take up a batch of rezoning and land-use cases on Tuesday.

Their regularly scheduled rezoning hearing—the third Tuesday of the month—takes place at 9 a.m. in the board’s second-floor meeting room at 100 Cherokee St. near the Marietta Square.

Unlike other recent regular business meetings, this one will be conducted in person, and not just commissioners and zoning staff, but also the public.

Here’s what the county is asking if you do show up:

“Those attending the meeting are asked to observe public health guidance that includes the wearing of masks when in the presence of others and to observe social distancing. The meeting room has been configured to meet social distancing requirements and an overflow room will be available. Those interested in a specific case will be encouraged not to enter the room until that case is called.”

For those who do not feel comfortable attending in person but still wish to comment on a specific case, a WebEx link will be provided so you can participate via audio. If you believe you would like to comment on a specific case please indicate which one and send an email to [email protected] You will be provided a link to use and further instructions.

Anyone who might have a visual presentation to show the board should send those to [email protected] as soon as possible. Include the agenda item number and description along with the attachment.

If you want to watch online, the hearing will be shown on the county’s YouTube and Facebook Live channels and website, as well as CobbTV on Channel 23 on Comcast.

The agenda is substantial, as you might imagine, given the backlog, but quite a few cases will be delayed at least to June, you can read through the agenda by clicking here.

There are more special-land-use and other business cases (site plan changes, stipulation amendments, etc.) than regular zoning cases on the agenda in East Cobb.

Among them are a delayed special-land-use request to allow for a preschool at Bethany Presbyterian Church on Sandy Plains Road (previous story here) and which is on the consent agenda.

You can look through individual agenda item filings by clicking here.

One other thing that’s different: Commissioners will be voting on zoning cases without recommendations from the Cobb Planning Commission, whose May meeting was cancelled.

The planning board’s votes are advisory but that five-member panel does a lot of the groundwork on cases.


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Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan review period extended

Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan

Right before the Coronavirus crisis prompted government, school and business closures, the Cobb Community Development Agency issued its Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan recommendations and made them available for public comment for a month.

That month, of course, was dominated by the Coronavirus response, and county government has been in limited operations mode.

Last week the agency sent out another notice that the master plan proposal, and related documents, would be available for public review until May 27. 

There’s also a storymap that’s been put together that runs through all the components of the two-year study, which includes land use, transportation, housing, demographics, stormwater and sense of place. 

JOSH future land use map
The future land use map of the JOSH area, which currently has nearly 27,000 residents. Light areas are low-density residential.

That information was compiled from feedback at town hall meetings and surveys. The agency uses the phrase “small area plan” in reference to this particular project, but the process has been similar to the Johnson Ferry Design Guidelines and the Powers Ferry Master Plan in East Cobb in recent years.

There’s a lot of material to cover in the “JOSH” report (the draft was released last summer), and we’ll highlight below a couple of areas that generated the most interest.

Here’s staff commentary from the land use section:

“Throughout the community engagement process, it was apparent that preservation of the low-density nature of the area was a reoccurring theme. Most of the JOSH study area is built-out, however, there are pockets of large tracts that could potentially be developed in the future. Whether they are CUVA tracts or underdeveloped properties, the community desires that the character of the existing neighborhoods does not change by virtue of what is developed around them.”

As a result, most of the related documents lay out potential future development that’s not much different from what exists now.

Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan
Low-density neighborhoods like Chimney Lakes comprise the vast majority of residential development in the “JOSH” area.

The staff also put together several scenarios for public feedback regarding the redevelopment of the area around Maddox Lake, at the southwestern corner of the Johnson Ferry-Shallowford intersection. 

That’s a 30-acre assemblage for rezoning that went before the Cobb Board of Commissioners as a proposed townhome and single-family residential development before the request was withdrawn in early 2017.

The options presented in the JOSH storymap include redevelopment as a community park and stormwater management facility, with multi-family residential and some retail and restaurant space (see the map below).

The transportation recommendations call for improving intersections in a number of places, including Johnson Ferry-Shallowford, Shallowford-Wesley Chapel, Shallowford-Mabry and creating a roundabout at Hembree Road and Lassiter Road. 

The “sense of place” suggestions include design guidelines along Johnson Ferry and Shallowford that would include streetscape amenities including decorative street lights and pedestrian lights, unified landscaped medians, wider sidewalks and street furniture.

The study also suggests the creation of a “community based stakeholder association” that would consider citizen ideas and collaboration on new development and design.

Comments on the JOSH recommendations and storymap can be sent to: [email protected] or Cobb County Community Development, Planning Division, P.O. Box 649, Marietta, GA 30061-0649.

JOSH Lake Park Concept

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