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Government & Politics Blog

A glance at county, state & federal government services, decisions, and issues that effect East Cobbers.

County offices closed for holiday

All Cobb County Government offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 1, in observance of Labor Day.

 

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Government Offices CLOSED for Labor Day

All Cobb County Government offices will be closed on Monday, September 1, in observance of Labor Day. They will resume regular hours on Tuesday, September 2.

 

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Easily review current and proposed SPLOST projects

Cobb County staff has made it even easier for the public to check the status of current Special Local Option Sales Tax projects and review proposed 2016 SPLOST projects. The existing mobile map has been updated to include proposed projects.

Users can search existing SPLOST projects, as well as proposed projects, by area, commission district or category, such as transportation, parks, and roadway and pedestrian improvement. Each link contains a fact sheet about the project.

The mobile map application can be used on desktop computers, smartphones or tablets. It is compatible with both Android and Apple iOS devices. For more information, or to utilize this tool, visitwww.cobbgis.org:81/CobbSPLOSTStatus/.

(Source: CobbLine)

 

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Cobb County population on the rise

 

Cobb is the third-highest growing county in the 10-county metro area, according to a new population study by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The county’s population increased by 9,600 residents from April 2013 to April 2014 to reach a total of 717,100 residents, according to a population estimate by the ARC.

That’s up from last year’s report, when Cobb’s population grew by 8,000 residents from 2012 to 2013.

Only Fulton and Gwinnett attracted more residents from 2013-14 than Cobb, but all 10 counties included in the study experienced growth. Fulton added 12,700 new residents and Gwinnett added 11,900.

County Commissioner Bob Ott said Cobb’s third-place finish is positive.

“I think that’s a manageable number. I would be concerned if it was a whole lot higher because you can start taxing the infrastructure of schools and things like that,” Ott said.

Cobb’s growth was a portion of the 52,700 residents added to the Atlanta region, bringing the metro population to 4,272,300.

The slow and steady growth of the region is something the ARC views as a success for the Atlanta area. In a statement about the numbers, the group called last year the biggest growth increase since the Great Recession, but still “dramatically lower” than the kind of population growth recorded between 1990 and 2010.

Every county except Clayton grew more from 2013-14 than it did between 2010-13, according to the report. Other counties included in the report were Cherokee, Douglas, Fayette, Henry and Rockdale, as well as the city of Atlanta.

Why is Cobb growing?

Ott said he has been pleased to see more people move to Cobb and filling up housing complexes.

“It’s consistent with what I see with new development and also apartment occupancy,” he said.

Ott said most apartment complexes in his east Cobb district are about 90 percent full, which is up from 80 percent during the recession.

“And that’s good, because when apartments are above 90 percent, they have money to do repairs and renovate,” he said.

With more residents come more entertainment and food options, Ott said.

“In east Cobb, we have four or five new restaurants from a year or a year and a half ago,” Ott said.

Ben Mathis, chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, said Cobb’s population growth also means people who move here want to stay.

“I’m glad to see the numbers picking up,” Mathis said. “A lot of people have been working very hard to make sure the county is a place for people to move but also for people to stay.”

Mathis said retaining residents and companies after they move in is one of the chamber’s goals.

“It’s a very competitive environment for other companies to move, and we’ve been extremely successful in keeping companies here, and when they stay here, they expand, and that’s just as good as someone moving here,” Mathis said.

For instance, Home Depot and the Weather Channel both call Cobb home and provide stable jobs, Mathis said.

The chamber’s Economic Development for a Growing Economy initiative, which is a strategy to attract businesses to the county with global marketing, has created 10,700 jobs in the county since it was created in 2012, said Brooks Mathis, chamber vice president.

Those jobs are mostly in the technology and software industries, and they’re often coming to the Cumberland area in southeast Cobb, Brooks Mathis said.

Brooks Mathis said other areas of Cobb attract different industries, such as data centers and office space in Town Center, manufacturing and distribution in south Cobb and Smyrna, and technology and manufacturing in Marietta.

“Cobb is unique. We can offer something for every industry, which makes our community attractive and also provides us the ability to keep taxes low because our tax base is diversified,” Brooks Mathis said.

Who are the newcomers?

Tad Leithead, chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, said the types of technology jobs available in southeast Cobb are attracting young people below the age of 30.

“A lot of the people that are qualified for those types of jobs are young people,” Leithead said. “A lot of people who have graduated from college in the Southeast come to Atlanta.”

Ben Mathis said the chamber wants to attract that demographic to Cobb.

“Something we’re very interested in that maybe those (population growth) numbers don’t reflect is we’re creating an environment that young people are attracted to the county,” Ben Mathis said. “You want Cobb to be a place that young people want to come to take their first job because if we don’t get them then, there’s a good chance we won’t get them at all.”

Ben Mathis said it’s harder to attract people living in other areas surrounding Atlanta to transfer to Cobb.

“That’s why we’re really excited about the Braves stadium because it’s got that mixed-use development that young people will be attracted to,” he said.

When young people come to Cobb, though, Leithead said they don’t follow the trends of older generations.

“Their purchasing choices are very different,” Leithead said. “There’s a huge trend among those ages that they don’t want to buy a house. They want to rent.”

That’s why 1,000 units of multi-family apartment-style housing are under construction in Cumberland, Leithead said.

How Cobb is expanding

One way the ARC measured the growth of each county’s population was by how many building permits are given out during the year.

“After permitting nearly 35,000 new residential units each year for the past 30 years (in the 10-county area surrounding Atlanta), there were only 18,400 new residential units permitted last year,” according to the report.

Leithead said residential permits could have gone down because the young people moving to Cobb aren’t ready to settle down and buy a house. They want something temporary, he said.

“You’re not seeing a growth in single-family homes, hence the reduction in building permits,” Leithead said. “But there is expansion in (the) multi-family apartment sector.”

Ott said land is beginning to get scarce in many areas of Cobb, so instead of building new structures, many companies are redeveloping areas in the county.

“In east Cobb, there’s really not a lot of land left, so it’s more redevelopment than new development,” Ott said.

Ott said other counties have more open land waiting to be developed, which could have allowed them to grow at a faster rate than Cobb.

“I’m not surprised by those numbers,” Ott said. “In Fulton County, they have some new cities like Johns Creek and Brookhaven, so some of it is having land and an opportunity for growth.”

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Hilary Butschek, August 24, 2014. Read the original article HERE.) 

Register for the 2014 Georgia Public Policy Forum

 

Registration is open for the Fifth Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, a daylong event on Friday, September 19, that will bring national and state policy experts to the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel to discuss free-market solutions to Georgia’s challenges. The event will be held from 7:30am-3pm at Renaissance Atlanta Waverly, 2450 Galleria Parkway SE.

The only forum of its kind in Georgia, the theme of this year’s event hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute is, “Tearing Down Walls,” a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

This not-to-be-missed event  has been described by state leaders as “the opening shot” to the legislative session and is attended each year by hundreds of legislators, businesspeople and interested citizens.

This year, state and national experts will focus on tearing down the walls to education, tax and health care reform in Georgia. Keynote speakers are Herman Cain, former presidential candidate and popular radio talk show host, and Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. The day’s events will include a retrospective of the Fall of the Berlin Wall by special guests Tom Harrold, Chuck Clay and Hans Rueffert.

Registration is open to the public; the deadline is Monday, September 15. The cost is $125 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. For more information, the agenda and to register, go to http://bit.ly/1yn65VD.  If you have difficulty registering, email benitadodd@georgiapolicy.org.)

For directions visit http://tinyurl.com/nwsp336Attire requested is Business, Business Casual. No jeans, cut-offs, tennis shoes, collarless sport shirts, shorts or athletic attire.

Nominations for 2014 East Cobb Citizen of the Year Award Sought

photo- susanhampton-citizenoyear2013

Do you know an individual who is continually working behind the scenes to enhance East Cobb County and help ensure that it is a  special place to live? If you do, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce is seeking the names of community members who, over the years, have given their time to serve the community and have helped to make East Cobb the distinctive place that it is.

The East Cobb Citizen of the Year award, created by Cobb County service clubs and co-sponsored by the Cobb Chamber Area Council and the East Cobb Business Association, has been presented to extraordinary individuals for the work they have done in East Cobb County. Past recipients include Sunny Walker, Don Johnson, Susan Hampton, Johnny Johnson, and Karen Hallacy to name a few.

And through a continued partnership with Cobb County civic and business organizations and the Cobb Chamber Area Councils, the East Cobb Citizen of the Year Award continues to recognize outstanding, service-minded individuals that have exceptionally impacted East Cobb County.

The individual should demonstrate definable, exceptional deeds that showcase a dedication to making East Cobb County a better place to live, work and play. The individual may have a history of impacting the community, in addition to notable impact throughout the course of this year. The individual should be extremely active and hands-on in a Cobb County community and should be easily considered a role model.

The selection for the East Cobb Citizen of the Year recipient does not have to be a member of a specific organization such as the Cobb  Chamber Area Councils, the Cobb Chamber, or a Cobb County business or civic association.

To nominate an individual for East Cobb Citizen of the Year, one must complete a nomination form. For more information or to request a nomination form contact Tya Dawson, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurial Programs, Cobb Chamber of Commerce at 770-859-2341 or email tdawson@cobbchamber.org. All forms must be received by noon, Friday, September 19.

 

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In with the new: Northside Hospital in talks to purchase land in East Cobb

This rendering shows the front of a proposed 80,000-square-foot medical facility Northside Hospital hopes to build in the Olde Towne shopping center at the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Olde Towne Parkway. Russ Davis, director of marketing and public relations for Northside, said the four-story building will contain medical offices, though the exact number or types of offices has not been determined because the organization’s plans for the facility are still in the early stages. Special to the MDJ

Northside Hospital is looking to expand its presence in east Cobb.

The organization is under contract to purchase a 12.8-acre tract at the intersection of Johnson Ferry Road and Olde Towne Parkway, where it plans to build a four story, 80,000-square-foot medical office building, according to Russ Davis, director of marketing and public relations for Northside.

“A lot of Cobb County residents, especially east Cobb residents, utilize Northside Hospital for their health care already. And the trend continues to be providing services closer to people’s homes and where they reside, eat, work (and) play,” he said.

Before it closes on the property, which currently houses the Fountains of Olde Towne shopping center, Northside must request approval of an amended site plan from the Cobb Board of Commissioners, which will consider the application at its meeting Tuesday.

“The Fountains of Olde Towne site already is zoned commercial, and no rezoning of the property will be required,” Davis said. “Northside Hospital will submit a site plan amendment request to enable a medical office use. The project will comply with all applicable requirements in the current zoning category.”

Northside is working to develop plans for the site, Davis added, although a specific development timeline hasn’t been established.

Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, said the property does not need to be rezoned, but the new site plan must be approved by the commissioners because Northside will raze the current buildings and build something new.

“The current zoning allows it. The only reason they’re coming in is because the original site plan was, basically, site plan specific when it was approved,” he said.

Ott added the property has been on the market for “quite a while.”

Northside consulted with the community on the project, and the organization will continue to listen to the public’s ideas and share “project updates with them on a regular basis,” Davis said.

Indeed, Lee O’Neal, president of the East Cobb Civic Association, said his group is in favor of the development because it repurposes existing commercial space.

“It’s already commercial, as opposed to going to a green field space and just creating more commercial development in east Cobb,” he said. “They’re taking something that already exists and repurposing it to be more useful. That’s a good idea, as opposed to creating excess inventory of commercial space. They’re trying to invest in the community.”

Ott said he understands some members of the community have concerns about traffic and the height of the proposed building, and said he is working to address these apprehensions. For instance, he is having discussions with businesses in the area, including Northside, to minimize the planned facility’s impact on traffic.

Regarding the planned building’s height, Ott said the ground elevation of the property is below Johnson Ferry Road. So although the building will be four stories tall, only about two and a half stories will be visible from the street level.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Ricky Leroux, August 18, 2014. For the original MDJ article click HERE.) 

Cobb’s FY2015 budget

On Tuesday, the Finance Department presented the proposed budget for FY2015. Please click here for a copy of the budget presentation.

You are also welcome to provide comments at the next two public hearings:
– 8 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 19
– 1:30 p.m, Tuesday, Aug. 26
Both public hearings will be in the Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting room at 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta, Georgia. The Cobb County Board of Commissioners will adopt the FY 2015 Budget at 7 p.m, Tuesday,Aug. 26 at the same location. 

If you are unavailable to attend the meetings, you are also welcome to send me your input by email to JoAnn.Birrell@CobbCounty.org or call 770-528-3317.

Please click here for a copy for the FY15 proposed budget.

 

LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

Register for Georgia Legislative Policy Forum

 

Registration is open for the Fifth Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, a daylong event on Friday, September 19, that will bring national and state policy experts to the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel to discuss free-market solutions to Georgia’s challenges. The event will be held from 7:30am-3pm at Renaissance Atlanta Waverly, 2450 Galleria Parkway SE.

The only forum of its kind in Georgia, the theme of this year’s event hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute is, “Tearing Down Walls,” a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

This not-to-be-missed event  has been described by state leaders as “the opening shot” to the legislative session and is attended each year by hundreds of legislators, businesspeople and interested citizens.

This year, state and national experts will focus on tearing down the walls to education, tax and health care reform in Georgia. Keynote speakers are Herman Cain, former presidential candidate and popular radio talk show host, and Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. The day’s events will include a retrospective of the Fall of the Berlin Wall by special guests Tom Harrold, Chuck Clay and Hans Rueffert.

Registration is open to the public; the deadline is Monday, September 15. The cost is $125 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. For more information, the agenda and to register, go to http://bit.ly/1yn65VD.  If you have difficulty registering, email benitadodd@georgiapolicy.org.)

For directions visit http://tinyurl.com/nwsp336Attire requested is Business, Business Casual. No jeans, cut-offs, tennis shoes, collarless sport shirts, shorts or athletic attire.

Meeting to Oppose SPLOST Scheduled August 16

The Cobb Taxpayers Association (CTA) will host its first organizational meeting to defeat the 2016 SPLOST which will be on November 4th general election ballot for voter approval. The meeting will take place from 11 am to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at the East Cobb Library, located at 4880 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30068. Its purpose is to raise voter awareness of the upcoming vote to re-impose a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on Cobb County residents and consumers. CTA has taken a position against the SPLOST and this meeting will serve as its launch for running a grassroots campaign to defeat it.

“A continuation of this tax, which is fraught with waste and open-ended items which would give the County a blank check to spend taxpayer money in whatever ways they see fit, is the wrong prescription for Cobb County,” said Lance Lamberton, President and founder of CTA. “On the contrary, the best approach towards economic recovery is to reduce the tax burden so that individuals and businesses will have more money to save, spend and invest in the private sector.”

If the measure is defeated, Cobb County’s sales tax would decline to 5%, making it the lowest sales tax in the region. Most counties in the Atlanta metro area have a sales tax rate of 7%. “This significantly reduced tax rate would be a boon to Cobb County residents and businesses, saving consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over a six year period,” Lamberton said.

The meeting will consist of a Power Point presentation where CTA will make its case for the measure’s defeat, followed by providing attendees with ways that they can get involved in the campaign. The media and general public are cordially invited.

Representing hundreds of taxpayers throughout Cobb County, CTA was formed in 2005 to oppose passage of that year’s SPLOST, and has since been active in opposing subsequent SPLOSTS, including the 2012 Transportation SPLOST. It also supported passage of the Charter School Amendment, and is working for passage of a fractional SPLOST and other measures to reduce taxes, spending, and provide a more equitable and efficient tax system for all Georgians.

Under the organization’s by-laws that were adopted by its five member board in 2013, CTA was established to:

  • Organize and inform voters of the benefits and advantages of reducing and/or limiting taxes and government spending.
  • Inform the public about current issues and engage them in grass-roots activities designed to achieve the above-stated objective.
  • Advocate and promote private sector solutions to public policy issues.
  • Work constructively with elected officials to oppose or support legislation, ordinances and measures which support a more limited, transparent, and accountable government on the local, county and state level.
  • Focus only on taxation and government spending issues and engage its activities only to those which are directly related to the above-stated objectives

For more information about CTA, go to: www.cobbtaxpayer.com

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