Cobb County delays North Point Ministries’ plans for new church, residential development

Cobb County commissioners on Tuesday still weren’t ready to vote on plans for a megachurch and mixed-use subdivision with 95 townhouses and single-family homes in East Cobb.

Commissioners said the delay will give time to get answers to looming questions about storm water drainage and whether a residential street should be closed off to limit cut-through traffic in the neighborhood.

The Board of Commissioners opted to table its vote for 30 days to give North Point Ministries more time to tighten the details of its site plan proposal. That means commissioners will hear the church’s renewed plans at an Oct. 19 zoning meeting.

Forty-six nearby homeowners opposed to the development showed up for the meeting, as they have for earlier meetings. They were outnumbered by the 56 attendees in support, but were much more vocal in raising concerns about traffic and the intensity of the residential development.

Ruth Michels, a resident of nearby MarLanta subdivision, said the developer’s site plan has shuffled through zoning designations over the past nine months but it still doesn’t fit the area.

“It appears that the applicant is shopping for a zoning classification that will fly,” she said.

North Point Ministries, based in Alpharetta, has locations throughout metro Atlanta. The proposed church would be built to hold up to 1,249 congregants, plans show.

Church officials have for months battled for permission to to build the 125,000-square-foot, four-story megachurch on 11 acres along Shallowford Road. Just south of the proposed church, North Point Ministries plans to construct 44 town homes and 51 single family houses off Johnson Ferry Road.

County commissioners first heard the church’s proposal Aug. 17 and kicked the plan back amid criticism that the residential development was too dense. The developer intended to build 71 townhouses and 54 single-family houses at the time.

Kevin Moore, a Marietta attorney representing North Point Ministries, presented a revised site plan that drastically reduced the number of residential properties by 30, which made it consistent with zoning laws.

“This is a fantastic plan,” he told board members. “It was a fantastic plan last month. And we believe that this plan strikes the proper balance between assembling this property and creating a development that is needed at this location.”

The site proposal included plans to close Waterfront Drive, a two-lane access route that runs west off Johnson Ferry Road and leads into the residential community.

Developers petitioned to close off the public road to prevent cars from the new development from causing traffic congestion in the surrounding neighborhood. But commissioners said that could hinder fire trucks and police vehicles needing access in case of emergency.

“We’ve got to keep Waterfront open with connection for the people of Waterfront Circle and (Waterfront) Drive,” Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said.

Commissioner Jerica Richardson suggested the rezoning to be held 30 days to give developers time to meet with Cobb County Department of Transportation and make tweaks. She said the new plan should keep Waterfront Drive connected and include traffic mitigation strategies. It should also include results from a floodplain study to show the impact of the development’s storm water runoff.