Wylene Tritt, 84, poses for a portrait behind her family’s barn in Marietta, Georgia, on Monday, October 3, 2016. The barn was built by Tritt’s father-in-law, Will Tritt in the 1940’s. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)
Photo: David Barnes
Photo: David Barnes

Commissioner: Tritt property not on Cobb parks list

A developer has backed off a controversial plan to build senior housing in East Cobb, but the property won’t become county greenspace, as some residents wanted.

A group of greenspace advocates calling themselves Friends of Tritt Park have been urging the county commission to “save” the 54-acre tract on Roswell Road owned by Wylene Tritt.

The property was first identified as potential parkland by a citizen advisory committee in 2006. Isakson Living failed in its attempt last year to have it rezoned so that the company could purchase it and develop it as senior housing. Tritt asked the county last month to include it on a new list of proposed greenspace as the county weighs a bond issuance to buy land for parks.

“There was a window for nominating properties and that has closed a while ago,” Commissioner Bob Ott said. “Right now, it won’t be on the list that comes forward from the committee in a couple of weeks.”

But Ott said county staff reached out to Tritt earlier this year and were told the property was not for sale. At that time, Isakson Living was suing the county over its refusal to rezone the parcel. The developer has since dropped its suit.

“I just want it to be something that’s good for the people,” said Tritt, 84, who has lived on the property in a house built from its lumber for more than 60 years. “There’s so many children that don’t even know the kind of trees that grow on land.”

Ott said the decision not to consider the Tritt property, along with other properties that were submitted after the deadline, belonged to the volunteer citizen committee tasked with compiling the list.

“The whole process was kind of removed from the commissioners, intentionally, back when it was first started so there was no politics involved,” Ott said.

The advisory committee’s chair, John Pape, a local attorney, declined to confirm or deny the Tritt property’s exclusion from the list.

The committee could present its report to the board of commissioners by the end of the month, Pape and Ott said.

In 2008, a solid majority of Cobb residents voted in favor of a $40 million bond issuance to buy up greenspace in the face of rapid development.

With the onset of the recession, the bonds were never issued. Parks advocates began agitating for the county to revisit the issue after commissioners voted to contribute nearly half a billion dollars in public funds for the new Braves stadium and to divert debt service from greenspace to SunTrust Park.

Ott said due to the wording of the original park bonds referendum, the county could not legally issue the full $40 million, but he was supportive of issuing the bonds for a lesser amount of $24 million.

Jennifer Burke of the Cobb Parks Coalition said she was disappointed but not ready to give up on Tritt Park, pointing to its historic connection to several prominent Cobb families.

“It seems like anything is fair game until the list is announced,” Burke said. “It doesn’t make sense as to why it couldn’t be added to the list when it was the instigator of the park bond process.”

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