MILTON, Ga. – About 50 residents attended a Ga. 9 North visionary study follow-up meeting March 27 to discuss nine acres of land located along the northeast corner of Bethany Bend and Cogburn Road.
In the March City Council meeting, councilmembers voted to accept the withdrawal of Arrowhead Real Estate Partners’ application for a use permit to rezone the land to develop a 95-unit assisted living facility and 19 single-family detached residences.
City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said the company could resubmit the application at any time.
The land is part of the city’s comprehensive land use plan and city officials want to include it in the visionary study, but some residents in the Oak Stone Glen and Five Acre Estates subdivisions want to keep the land out of the study and allow it to remain zoned A-G 1.
“A visionary study is used to determine the long-term vision for an area,” Lagerbloom said. “This one will serve as a basis for planning, so as development is proposed, it can be looked at against a standard vetted through a formal process. The idea is to guide development, not have it just happen.”
Michelle McIntosh-Ross, principal planner for the city, said the planning meeting was held to provide the community with follow up and allow residents to give input.
The meeting proved the need for mediation.
“We made the decision to bring in a mediator because we felt it was in the best interests of both the community and the city to find a workable solution,” McIntosh-Ross said.
Georgia Tech professor Michael Elliott will provide conflict resolution services, working with the property owner and representation from both subdivisions.
“We aren’t involved in the mediation,” McIntosh-Ross said, “but we’re confident Dr. Elliott can help both sides come to an agreement.”
McIntosh-Ross said she requested contact information for the mediator from both subdivisions.
“We’ve received information from one of the subdivisions but have yet to hear back from the other,” she said.
Sources within city government fear excluding the property from the visionary study could do more harm than good.
If the property is included in the study, the city would have a say in the land’s use but if not, property owner Bethany Cogburn, LLC could take the city to court, saying the property’s exclusion from the visionary study shows the city’s disinterest.
“If the property isn’t in the visionary study, it could end up being sold to someone who could build something the community doesn’t want, such as a lighted football stadium, and there may be no way to fight it,” a source who did not want to be named in this article said. “The residents opposing the possible changes to the land are doing so because they want to maintain what they believe to be the integrity of the community, but their efforts could actually cause unintended consequences."
The city expects mediation to be brief.
“We hope to have this situation resolved soon,” McIntosh-Ross said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote to Michelle McIntosh-Ross. We regret the error.