Somehow, the story we are about to tell is rather ironic, because it takes place on what is known in West Cobb as “Christmas Tree Corner” at the intersection of Dallas Highway and Castell Road. It is a situation that just may leave you looking toward your conscience as to what is right and what is wrong. Ultimately, we believe it is a story about you. It’s about the American dream of homeownership and the rights you have as a homeowner that are put in place to protect your largest investment — the place where you hang your hat and tuck your kids in at night.
Imagine this scenario. Your backyard is a placid place, full of hardwoods where you enjoy the natural setting and seasons of the year. The nearest state highway is acres away from you; in fact, you barely hear the noise on a clear day. You don’t think much of the property behind you; it is not yours, but it is not zoned commercial, and you are safe with the only possibility of development being single-family residential. The only activity that happens on the property is Christmas tree sales during the holiday season.
One day, you receive a notice in your mail. Attorneys want to talk to you. The property is in the process of being sold, and they want to build something behind you. Not knowing much about zoning, you get your land deeds out and look at what you own and agree to meet with the attorney and the developer.
The developer shows you the plans. It calls for acres of big box stores, restaurants, a grocery store, parking lots and more. It will be great for the community, they tell you. It is what everyone wants. It makes sense because of the location. It will increase property values. It will bring tax revenue to schools.
And it will be approximately 45 ft. from your home.
If you think this is not you, think again. Z-42 is a rezoning application that proposes rezoning residential property to commercial property in West Cobb. It makes no matter where or what corner it is on. The bottom line is that residents who purchased property adjacent to this piece of land did so knowing that what they bought was not next to commercial property. They did this in good faith that their local government would uphold a Comprehensive Land Use Plan that states this land is set aside as Very Low Residential (VLR). And now the homeowners have to fight to keep it that way.
They have to fight their own West Cobb community, too, because the truth is, we all want an organic grocery store, a clothing retail store and new restaurants to dine in. We would all enjoy convenience, accessibility and fresh vegetables. But at what cost?
Are we willing to give up our rights as homeowners protected by the Land Use Plan for our desire for retail and groceries? Would you want your protections taken away from you? And while the property owner has the right to develop the land, no one is denying him the ability to develop it as residential. In fact, he rejected a proposal to develop it as Residential Senior Living (RSL) several years ago.
There is a difference between doing what we want and what is right. It takes leadership to look at the complete picture and assess its implications and the impacts of decisions on the entirety of the community. This includes looking at how the minority is impacted as well as the majority. Majority rights do not trump the rights of individual property owners. It is County government’s job to ensure it upholds code and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan to ensure these rights — because if they let it slide for these residents, they can let it slide for you.
Source: West Cobb Advocate Facebook Page