Happy Tuesday! Last week’s issue about bike trails has gotten a lot of positive feedback and if you haven’t forwarded it or shared it with your friends, please do!

This issue will highlight the upcoming Board of Commissioner’s meeting, proposed Code Amendments, and a couple of other topics.

Going to start off this week’s edition by highlighting the meetings we had last week.

  • On Wednesday, we met with the city of Atlanta to discuss issues that Cobb and Atlanta can face together.
  • On Thursday, we attended the public meeting for Austell-Powder Springs Trail
  • On Friday, we met with Cobb Parks to discuss the South Cobb Pocket Park
  • On Saturday, Cobb 4 Transit had a meeting to discuss our priorities and next steps
  • On Sunday, we had our ridealong with Root Local in Northwest Atlanta.
  • On Monday, we went on a tour of Austell talking about its future for walkability, biking, and transit and took part in the Transit Advisory Board meeting
  • Today, we’ve got the Board of Commissoners meeting tonight at 7PM

That’s quite the streak, am I right? Let’s keep it going and if you have any meetings or updates, please leave a comment or let us know by emailing us at abettercobb@gmail.com!

Before I get into the details, here’s a great picture from the Root Local Ride Along last week!

Board of Commissioner’s meeting tonight!

Here is the agenda and the 306 page packet for the meeting (pro tip: look up the Item Number of the agenda topic and then use “Ctrl + F” and search for “Item No. __” to find more details about your specific topic)

Some highlights:

  • There is NO Public Hearing (yaay!)
  • The Consent Agenda (where they quickly vote on all items at once) has 26 items
    • Item No. 11: A Intergovernmental Agreement between Austell and Cobb DOT for Cobb to manage streetlights, signage, bridges, and inclement weather operations to be renewed.
    • Item No. 12: To approve a restated and amended for transit bus advertising” includes adopting a reduced payment from the vendor who manages the advertising on bus stops and also adds a 60-day buyout notice and termination of Dec. 31st, 2023. This confirms a new RFP for bus stop management and advertising soon.
  • The Regular Agenda (where they discuss and vote on items individually) has 14 items
    • Item No. 30: Approve $1.4 Million contract to Accenture for a County-wide strategic plan.
    • Item No. 33: To authorize advertisement and conduct public hearing to expend more than $100k for planning, engineering, and site selection for 3 transfer centers: South Cobb (new), Cumberland, and Marietta (likely moved).
    • Item No. 39: To approve the top-3 ranking of engineering firms for the Noonday Creek Trail crossing Hwy 41. This is to build a pedestrian bridge over Hwy 41 for the Noonday Creek Trail which would be HUGE!

The one thing missing in tonight’s agenda might be the biggest thing on the Commissioners’ plate: Code Adjustments!

Breaking the Code

Admittedly, I know very, very little about code adjustments, so this will be a learning process for us all over the next few weeks. The entire package of code adjustments will be presented to the Board of Commissioners at today’s work session at 1:30PM.

Here is the proposed code adjustments package: PDF Link

From my *limited* understanding so far, here are some of the highlights with a ranking on the SPICE scale from 1-5 (1 being “meh” to 5 being “extra spicy!!”

  • Chapter 2: Administration (:
    • Adds the authority for code inspectors to issue citations for Multifamily Rental Housing Inspection Program
  • Chapter 18: Building Regulations :
    • Adds the Multifamily Rental Housing Inspection Program including an occupational tax and inspection requirements
  • Chapter 54: Fire Prevention and Protection:
    • Adds that outdoor crowds of more than 1000 people requires a permit from the Fire Marshal
  • Chapter 78: Licenses, Permits, and Businesses:
    • Adds a section which will regulate short-term rentals like Air BnB’s.
      • Required license with application fee of $55
      • Regulates what properties can be approved
      • Penalties are steep: $500 for first offense. $750 for second. Third offense means the property cannot be licensed.
  • Chapter 83: Nuisances:
    • Adds that it is unlawful for properties greater than 40,000 sq ft with buildings or structures within 75 feet of the public right of way to have weeds that exceed 12 inches.
  • Chapter 90: Parks and Rec:
    • Prohibits smoking in all county owned or maintained parks except for designated smoking areas.
  • Chapter 102: Solid Waste:
    • Adds “Sustainability” to the “Sustainability, Waste, and Beautification” department, which is led by the “Sustainability, Waste, and Beautification Director”
    • Updates multiple definitions in the code
    • Divides the county into no more than four “Residential Service Areas” where the county will select one “Residential Service Provider” to be the exclusive trash and recycling vendor for that area.
    • Reduces trash and recycling pickup to specific days
    • Adds an annual “Residential Service Fee” that is paid to the county
  • Chapter 106: Streets, Sidewalks, and Other Places:
    • For new developments, Changes the Sidewalk Development Fund to a “developer contribution” that could then be applied to any improvements in the same district. Honestly, I need to dig into this one more to see how it could impact development of Complete Streets in the future. Seems like there is a possible opportunity here.
  • Chapter 110: Subdivisions:
    • Changes the requirements and stipulations of “private streets” within new developments.
  • Chapter 134: Zoning:
    • ALL zoning definitions are deleted and replaced with the word “Reserved”. My understanding of this is that these zoning definitions in the county code will be replaced by a separate document: the Unified Development Code. This process is currently underway and will most likely be a 2 year process.

There are *THREE* public hearings scheduled for the code adjustments, and we expect these to be extra spicy…

  • September 6th at 9AM (Planning Commission): Public Hearing on Chapter 134 (zoning)
  • September 13th at 9AM (BOC meeting): Public hearing #1 on entire package
  • September 27th at 7PM (BOC meeting): Public hearing #2 on entire package

Let us know what you think about the code changes and if you have any questions. We are talking to a couple of zoning experts to see if they are interested in doing a future issue related to that specific topic.

It appears the proposed changes to trash collection, zoning, and short-term rentals will most likely be the most controversial.

Advocacy Highlights

As mentioned in the intro, we had a busy week last week.

  • Austell-Powder Springs Road Trail Public Meeting was held at the Threadmill Complex
    • We had 3 ABC’ers at the event (myself, Tyler, and Russ). All of us were blown away by the venue. If you haven’t stopped by the Threadmill Complex, I highly recommend it.
    • Overall, it seemed many attendees were positive and provided great feedback to the committee. There was a high attendance of residents from Clarkdale community who are concerned about the Right of Way encroaching on their properties. This could be alleviated by a change to the routing.
    • The current phase of the project is a “needs assessment and scoping study” so there’s a long way to go but it’s a promising step towards connecting Austell and Powder Springs.
  • Cobb 4 Transit update
    • Bettye, Lynn, Linda, and Matt all met to discuss priorities for Cobb 4 Transit.
  • Cobb Streets For All update
    • We are now up to THREE volunteers who are interested in being on the initial leadership committee. We only need two more!

Upcoming Advocacy Opportunities

  • Cobb Board of Commissioners meeting is TONIGHT, 8/23 @ 7PM
  • Next Board of Commissioners meetings:
    • Tuesday, Sept 13th at 9:00AM
    • Tuesday, Sept 27th at 7:00PM
  • Cobb 4 Transit Braves Game Monday, September 19th!
    • Join Cobb 4 Transit as we try out different routes and methods to attend the Braves game. Registration link and more details coming soon!
  • Cobb Streets For All Launch Party & Ride Along on Saturday, October 1st!
  • Y’all Aboard Virtual Advocacy Call this Wednesday, August 24th at 7PM
    • Cobb 4 Transit Activities
    • Cobb Streets For All Launch

News & Updates

MDJ Article on Strategic Plan

Proposed Changes to Trash Collection Draws Opposition (East Cobb News)

Accidentally Car-Free Part IV (Cobb County Courier)

MARTA Reach Pilot Program to end August 31st (MARTA)

That’s it for this week! Have a great week and we hope to see you at an upcoming event!