Feature Story: Rezoning in Cobb County

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Photo Credited To: Lisa George / WABE News

 February 10th, 2016 a city council meeting was held in Marietta City Hall at 7p.m. Wednesday evening. The meeting was lead by a prayer from Mayor Tumlin following The Pledge of Allegiance. During this meeting, a discussion of rezoning the property of First Christian Church and the property of Cary Mccallum were examined. After the council sympathized with 1st lady Pamela Commorato about not having enough funds to pay for fixtures at the church, a heated debate broke out between councilman Coleman and Fleming. Before the boil burst, a proposal introduced by council for the renaming of Franklin Road was acquiesced.

The motion approved to rename Franklin Road in Marietta, Ga to Franklin Gateway was finalized by Mayor Tumlin the other 7 councilman. However, Blair Oaks, co-director of a boys soccer team of Marquis Place Apartments, opposed to this decision. He quoted, “ The apartment complexes on Franklin Road were demolished before a public hearing was held and the city in my opinion also failed to advertise the availability of these apartments for redevelopment and a R.A.P before they ended the lease agreement with the soccer club as required by law.” City Councilman Anthony Coleman looked confused and asked Mayor Tumlin if this was indeed required by law and Mayor Tumlin replied, “ No, it is not required by law. The fact it might take me 20 minutes to point out incorrect facts made in this statement.” The entire room let out an outburst of laughter. A denial of claim was filed of Mr. Oaks and the motion was denied.

Next up to the podium was Attorney Lee Culler, representing First Lady Pamela Commorato of First Christian Church. He explained the affliction to the public and there was no agreement reached between the two parties of the church and the elderly neighbors. His opening statement began with, “ This a church trying to do the right thing.” After he made his opening statement Mrs. Commorato was called up to the podium to speak in front of all 12 council members and the mayor. She stated,” We are here to request that you do approve our resummoning with all the stipulations except one.” The sixth stipulation is: Outside freezer shall be enclosed by a wooden structure. Since the last zoning meeting on January 13th, 2016, the church has followed the stipulations and remained in code, however the fence required to be placed between the two properties comes to the price of $1500 and the replacement of the roof which comes to $1200. Mrs. Commorato asked for a total of two years to pay for these expenses, explaining that the church and pantry they own are a non-profit and receive majority of their donations from the community. Her husband intervened, Pastor Smith, quoting, “ We have been here for 20 years. We started off with 120 members and now only have 40 members. We are willing to meet all the stipulations but our funds are limited. We try to be a good neighbor, but we try to help the community also.” Drayton Baker, who represents his in-laws living beside the church states he is not here to fight, but to compromise. He quotes, “ I’m tired of beating a dead horse.” He and his in-laws are asking that an 8-foot fence is built, First Christian Church repair their roof in one year and for the hours of operations to be pushed to a later time around 11a.m. Mrs. Commorato told the council, “We can’t afford to fix the roof in a year. We use the money out of our pockets to feed the community, we can’t afford it.” One of the women in the room shook her head in an agreeing manner and the council sympathized with Mrs. Commorato. They decided to extend her time for two years in order to fix the roof. Councilman Chalfant stated, “ I wish we could come up with a solution to make both parties happy.” After hearing both sides, the councilman approved 7-0-0 to remove #6 stipulation of the agenda and seven votes agreeing to motion zoning for the church.

The last public hearing was Carry Mccallum who owns a niche business particularly in the grass department and is requesting a rezoning of his property. He tells the court about himself and how small his company is a seasonal business, therefore his income is very limited. When speaking in front of the council, his wife had to come up and translate to him what they were saying due to Mr. Mccallum’s tinnitus. After his statement councilman Coleman asked him to explain why he has been operating a business out of a residential property without a license. Mccallum claimed a councilman said he was fine and did not need a license and councilman Coleman was upset that Mr. Mccallum was not cited. Councilman Stuart Fleming decided to motion for the rezoning of Mccallum’s property reaching for the button until councilman Coleman yelled, “No!” startling everyone in the room. The two councilmen were debating back for a total of three minutes, ending with Fleming saying, “ Don’t tell me what to do.” with a condescending sneer on his face. Coleman pounded his hand on the table then filed a substitute motion to deny, failing at a vote of 1-5-1, therefore Mr. Mccallum’s property request was approved for rezoning. Councilman Fleming looked at councilman Coleman and the room with a smug on his face. After the city council meeting was over, Mr. Mccallum was asked how he felt about the two councilmen going at it. He laughed it off by saying,” It was nerving, but I’m glad councilman Fleming took my word for it.”

Officer Ramirez was interviewed on what he thought about the issue of rezoning one’s property. He replied, “Rezoning in Marietta is more of a city council’s headache than issue.”
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