The Marietta Zoning Board of Appeals has rejected a variance request for MUST Ministries to build a homeless shelter on property at the corner of Cobb Parkway and Bells Ferry Road.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Marietta to consider MUST Ministries’ appeal for homeless shelter 

The Marietta City Council on Thursday will hold a called meeting to hear an appeal from a Cobb County charity that wants to build a homeless shelter near a major thoroughfare.

The Council will hear MUST Ministries’ appeal of a variance request at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 at City Hall. The called meeting will be held before the Council’s regular meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday.

MUST Ministries’ appeal comes a week and a half after the Marietta Zoning Board Appeals rejected the group’s request to build a 130-bed shelter on 6.33 acres of land at 1260 Cobb Parkway North. The charity already has approval from the city to build a three-story shelter on the same property that’s closer to Cobb Parkway.

READBoard denies MUST Ministries’ new plan for homeless shelter

MUST’s petition to the zoning board was to relocate the shelter on land that’s about 80 feet from the property closer to Cobb Parkway. The site of the proposed shelter is currently zoned for community retail commercial use. City zoning laws require homeless shelters be located at least 750 feet from property zoned for residential uses.

The preferred site for MUST is located within that 750-feet radius, and several residents who live near the area have expressed opposition to the charity’s plans.  

RELATEDMUST Ministries makes second attempt to get homeless shelter approved

The Cobb County charity faced a similar battle in 2017 when the board rejected an exemption to the 750 feet rule, but MUST chose not to appeal that decision. MUST has said getting approval to build within the 750-foot radius will allow it to construct a courtyard style building that would be hidden from view from the highway. 

MUST President and CEO Dr. Ike Reighard said building on the charity’s preferred site will allow the organization to “provide areas for families, veterans and other groups with specific needs.” The charity turns away between 200 and 300 people per month at its current 72-bed shelter at 55 Elizabeth Church Road in Marietta. About 74 percent of those people are women and children, MUST argues. 

“We’re hoping for a positive outcome and look forward to serving our neighbors in need in a new facility designed specifically to meet the needs of those in poverty,” he added. 

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