Industrial business owners operating along the Chattahoochee River in Cobb County say they can coexist with a $300 million mixed-used Riverview Landing development coming in alongside them, but they are adamant that the roadway they all will share must be improved.
Their major worry is the impact the new development will have on the main thoroughfare -- Riverview Road -- through the area.
The two-lane road can already become quickly congested and currently sits below the flood level in some places, leading to standing water after heavy rains, they said. With the new project, the industrial business owners have warned of becoming land-locked in the event of a flood, as well as being unable to access their businesses through heavier traffic on Riverview. Most companies there have multiple truck deliveries daily.
“If the whole road isn’t raised to handle all of the added vehicles that will be using it each day, then it won’t work,” said Clint Stamps, owner of Stamps Sand company, that has operated in the area for decades.
Last year Cobb Commissioners approved rezoning to allow for a privately funded 81-acre development of single and multi-family housing, retail, office and storage space slated for both sides of Riverview Road near I-285. Developers have already begun clearing the land and new construction is expected to begin next summer.
For its part, the county is planning $4 million of road improvements to a portion of the Riverview Road leading up to the development. The money, approved by residents last year in a four-year local sales tax, would pay for turning lanes at key intersections along the road from Veterans Memorial Highway to Nichols Drive, along with sidewalk improvements.
Another $12 million for improvements is included in the proposed regional transportation program that goes before voters in July. That money would pay for adding left turn lanes on the remainder of the road from Nichols to South Cobb Drive, as well as providing drainage improvements. The project developers -- Green Street Properties, Jamestown Properties and Marthasville Development -- plan to raise the portions of Riverview in its development that are in the floodplain, particularly at an intersection with Dickerson Drive, where Riverview dips below the flood elevation level.
Flood elevation levels -- the level at which floodwater is anticipated to reach during a 100-year flood -- on new floodplain maps were dropped slightly in the development area along the river.
The new proposed maps, redrawn last year as part of a remapping project with the state Department of Natural Resources and FEMA, show that in the event of a 100-year flood -- one like Cobb County saw in 2009 -- flood waters would be expected to rise about three feet lower than projected on current maps, even though some of the area remains in the floodplain.
“We’re not going to spend millions of dollars without that being taken care of,” said Walter Brown, lead developer for the Riverview Landing project. Brown also touts arterial roads in the development area that are out of the floodplain. He contributes some of the concerns from the industrial business owners as leftover complaints they initially had against the project.
Brown is working with the county for some flexibility in its road requirements, for provisions like narrower rights-of-way for roads in the development. He expects a roadway design to be completed in the next 60 days.
“The [project] is here now,” said Karen Barton, owner of the Phoenix Crane and president for the area's industrial business group. “We are no longer fighting it, but for us to co-exist, we have to make sure things are done right.”