I ran into a friend the other day who was excited to tell me that the area many affectionately refer to as “East Cobb” is looking into becoming its own city.
The issue was near and dear to my heart. I actually grew up in an area that was unaffectionately called “unincorporated Fulton.”
I grew up in the Martin’s Landing neighborhood east of Ga. 400 which has since been incorporated into Roswell. The city nearly doubled in size early last decade to include everything east of Ga. 400 that now calls itself Roswell. It is still trying to catch up bringing to that side of Roswell the same levels of service it provides to the residents within its original boundaries. But I can tell you, they are better off than when I was growing up there, when we had to go to downtown Atlanta to talk to our lopsided County Commission to fight a development we didn’t want, or ask for services we weren’t getting. The Commission back then was a strong, southside majority and North Fulton probably seemed like another country 45 minutes up the newly built Ga. 400.
Martins Landing was an incredible place to grow up. It surrounds a lake and stretches along the Chattahoochee River, and what I think is the most scenic drive anywhere in North Fulton in Riverside Road.
Growing up, I felt like a Roswellian. I played sports through the Roswell Recreation and Parks system and represented the Hornets in football up until high school, when my “unincorporated” friends and I were shipped off to Crestwood High School. Crestwood had all the charm of an early 1900s Northeastern industrial jail cell. I don’t remember any windows in the building, although I’m told some existed. It was quickly built in the 1970s to house the influx of new residents moving from other parts of the country to the new neighborhoods east of Ga. 400 in North Fulton. After my sophomore year they put it out of its misery and we were the first junior class at Chattahoochee High School — the first high school built in North Fulton east of GA400.
If we were a city, perhaps we would have had better representation sooner.
I’m not sure there was a meaningful strategic plan in place for the pre-incorporation development of most of the areas east of Ga. 400. We were fortunate that the private sector came through with some great neighborhoods that helped propel economic development in North Fulton. Country Club of the South, which today is in the newishly formed Johns Creek, was Georgia’s first gated community and put North Fulton on the map as one of the premier, upscale communities in Metro Atlanta. Willow Springs and Horseshoe Bend as well as several others also helped to propel that idea.
Before incorporation, we were just a collection of neighborhoods whose only representation existed 15 miles south in downtown Atlanta. That part of Roswell is still fighting for its identity, but at least now it only has to cross Ga. 400 to do so.
East Cobb kind of reminds me of that. The borders of the proposed new city would essentially run along Roswell’s borders to the east, along the Chattahoochee River south to Marietta’s borders near I-75 to the west, then run just east of Sandy Plains almost to a point near 92. It is one of the most dense collections of swim and tennis neighborhoods in the metro area and includes the Pope, Walton and Wheeler High School districts. It has its own unique neighborhoods and characteristics. Drive through the streets along Paper Mill Road and you’ll find multi-million-dollar homes sprawling along roads on massive acreage. I’ve met people at the Starbucks on Paper Mill and Johnsons Ferry and the parking lot is a showcase of $100,000+ cars.
The group that is leading the push for cityhood is facing opposition. Many argue that their taxes will go up, saying that every other city in Cobb County charges higher mileage rates than what the county is charging them for the same services. Proponents of cityhood counter that the services would improve. The movement is being led by a group called the Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb, Inc. Phil Kent, a local political leader, has acted as a spokesperson for the group.
“East Cobb is an ideal place to work, live, raise a family and retire,” he said in a recent Marietta Daily Journal article. “But residents desire a stronger voice for matters pertaining to our own backyards. There’s zero intent to raise taxes or diminish services for our neighbors.”
North Fulton has since been totally incorporated with two new cities emerging in Johns Creek and Milton. Both have had their growing pains (Milton sought the help of a therapist in 2007 to help the council get along). But both might argue that their character and city brand have been fostered since getting local representation.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group