Progress over the years:

A visual history

In 2004-5 Commissioner Tim Lee began the process of corridor planning for Canton Road.

There was an appointed Steering Committee consisting of a well rounded group of stakeholders from business, schools, neighborhoods and the Cobb Chamber. The document that resulted from the process was the Canton Road Corridor “Main Street” Design Principles Plan & Recommendations 2005. Some excerpts from that document are quoted below. An additional Corridor study was made to look at roadway improvements that could be made using funding from SPLOST.

In 2008, following up on the 2005 document, Canton Road Neighbors organized a new stakeholder group to draft Design Guidelines for the Canton Corridor. The group was composed of stakeholders from the local business community, the real estate profession, community groups, and had feedback and advice from Planning and Community Development. The Design Guidelines were adopted by the BoC in early 2009. Since that time those guidelines have been applied to many rezoning applications on the Corridor.

In 2012, Commissioner JoAnn Birrell created the Canton Road Redevelopment Foundation with a small group of members primarily from the business community. I was the sole representative for Neighborhoods. The CRRFI had assistance and feedback from Cobb County Community Development. Its mission was focused on filling an inventory of vacant, mostly older properties along the corridor. It also considered ways to promote and facilitate business in the area. Many of the buildings in the redevelopment inventory came back in to rezone when new owners or tenants were found for the properties. The stipulations approved by Commissioners suggested a way to spruce up the appearance of the exterior, making reference to the Design Guidelines. The BoC also asked that sidewalks be installed.

Very few of the sites actually resulted in new development or redevelopment. However, the cumulative effect of rezoning and upgrades resulted in overall improvements to the appearance to the corridor when combined with new infrastructure funded by SPLOST. Progress has been uneven over the 5 mile corridor. In the 2005 Corridor document the area was divided into three sections. Some excerpts from that document are below, followed by a visual overview of photographs and commentary comparing changes from 2005 to 2018 between the northern "Campus District" and the southern "Loft District ". The Commerce District has not seen significant change during the period.

Excerpts

“In October 13, 2003, Commissioner Tim Lee held a Town Hall Meeting at Sandy Plains Baptist Church with the over 100 members of the Northeast Cobb Homeowners Group (NECHG) in attendance to discuss the potential of developing a corridor plan for Canton Road.”

“In the meeting, the primary concerns vocalized by the public related to Canton Road were specific to regional traffic during peak travel periods, unsightly buildings and signage along the corridor, continuing code enforcement issues to address, and increased community desire for more diverse and neighborhood-oriented businesses along the corridor.“

“The majority of the buildings situated along the corridor are General Commercial (GC) zoned prefabricated “Butler” buildings with metal facades and roofs. The business owners have been persistent in placing promotional banners, illegal signage, neon paint colors, trampolines, hot tubs, etc. near the right-of-way of the roadway to promote their respective commercial establishment “ The other central theme in the evening input session was the statement, “No median on Canton Road!”

Steering Committee convenes May 2004

"In July 2004 the Canton Road Steering Committee members were ask to complete a questionnaire, and then be interviewed by a member of the Planning Division staff, regarding the improvement of the corridor. During interviews with the Canton Road Steering Committee members regarding improvement of the corridor, the following general themes and recommendations emerged."

July 2004 Steering Committee Interview/Questionnaire Summary

􀂃 The overall appearance of buildings along the corridor should be enhanced. This should be achieved by creation and use of design guidelines requiring higher quality exterior materials (more use of brick), uniform signage, etc.

􀂃 The general streetscape along the corridor should be improved. This should include more landscaping, addition of street trees, placement of uniform lighting fixtures, and installation of street furniture.

􀂃 During times of peak travel, traffic congestion should be alleviated. Ideally, more interparcel connections should be created to avoid cars having to re-enter Canton Road to travel to nearby businesses.

􀂃 During times of low car volume, reduced speed along the route should be a goal. Visually, this should be accomplished by widened sidewalks, colorful brick-colored street treatments, and landscaping.

􀂃 Mixed-used developments built in order to achieve a live-work-play atmosphere would be welcomed. Such developments would give the corridor more of a village feel and offer residents the chance to reduce car use.

􀂃 Office complex construction should be sought along Canton Road. This could provide an opportunity for economic development as well as offer residents an increased chance to work closer to their homes.

􀂃 Public transportation in some form would be beneficial. Whether this should be accomplished by means of regular bus service, Bus Rapid Transit, commuter rail, or localized trolley service should be determined at a later time based on funding and other county, regional, and state plans.

􀂃 Increased greenspace is needed in the area. Greenspace in all forms (pocket parks, bike/running trails, passive parks, and preserved open land) should be a priority.

􀂃 At least one community center featuring activities for all ages is needed. This community center with recreation facilities should be easily accessible.

􀂃 In order to establish an identity for the corridor, a gateway/gateways should be established. Well-designed monument signage announcing arrival to the corridor should be placed at a strategic location(s).

“The Planning Division discussed the potential of narrowing the existing vehicular through-lanes to 11’ wide, which will provide a less comfortable driving experience at higher rates of speed, thus causing the driver to slow their overall traveling speed. The technique of narrowing existing travel lanes as part of a resurfacing project provides a “traffic calming” benefit by narrowing the existing lane widths towards the center of the roadway, where the additional pavement along the edge of the roadway serves as a “bicycle-friendly shoulder” for Class-A bicyclist mobility. “

“The Steering Committee voiced their concern about high density residential projects being considered in the redevelopment areas, with a particular emphasis on the southern location adjacent to the Sandy Plains Connector. The group stated that high density residential or mixed-use development in the southern redevelopment area location would force existing elderly residents to be displaced from their homes and forced to making other living accommodations.”

“The proposal to add parallel access roads on both sides of Canton Road from Blackwell Road to Piedmont Road received criticism from existing property owners living near the proposed road alignment. In particular, the proposal to add Skyland Drive to the proposed access road alignment scenario received vocal objections from some existing property owners. Staff stated the road would be constructed as a condition of a rezoning process.”

"As a component of the Market Study, the Planning Division broke down the Canton Road corridor into three distinct segments due to the rather expansive acreage within the initial study area. The 4.5 mile section of Canton Road included a theoretical “Loft District” from the Sandy Plains Connector to Piedmont Road, the “Commerce District” from Piedmont Road to New Chastain Road, and the “Campus District” from Chastain Corners to Jamerson Road. The names for the districts were derived based on the land use successes for the areas in question. The Loft District has an existing grid street network which promotes residential-type uses in this portion of the corridor, similar to the Brumby Loft development theme in the City of Marietta. The Commerce District is based on the existing retail and commercial enterprises from Piedmont Road to New Chastain Road, and the Campus District draws from the success of existing office and educational land uses on the northern portion of the corridor study area."

Comparing progress in the northern Campus District with the southern Loft District 2005-2018

A visual overview by Carol Brown

The Campus District

The Canton Jamerson intersection was once one of Canton Corridor's most blighted areas. Over the past ten years it has been revitalized thanks to the Redevelopment Inventory, CRRFI, rezoning, new restaurants, implementation of SPLOST projects and use of Canton Design Guidelines for new development. Below: The Canton Jamerson intersection 2012.

Above: May 2018

In 2007 Z-57 was approved and would become the site of Vespucci's and later, Roy's Donuts. Discussions were taking place about some type of design guidelines for the Corridor at the time Z-57 was approved.


MINUTES OF ZONING HEARING

COBB COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION

JUNE 5, 2007 PAGE 12

Z57 MOHAMMAD NOWROOZZADEH ( Canton Jamerson, LLC, owner) requesting Rezoning from NS and GC to NRC for the purpose of Retail in Land Lot 60 of the 16th District. Located on the west side of Canton Road, south of Jamerson Road.

The public hearing was opened and Mr. Mohammad Nowroozzadeh and Ms. Carol Brown addressed the Commission. Following presentations and discussion, the following motion was made:

MOTION: Motion by Trombetti, second by Williams, to recommend approval of Rezoning to the NRC zoning district subject to:

  • site plan received by the Zoning Division April 3, 2007, with the District Commissioner approving minor modifications ( on file in the Zoning Division)

  • architecture to consist of a combination of brick and stucco

  • enclosures for dumpsters to be constructed of same materials as the building

  • HVAC to be screened from view

  • awnings to be placed on storefront windows and doors

  • if a tenant is a restaurant, then an area for outdoor seating and patio would be set aside and subject to Plan Review approval

  • ground based monument style signage ( no aerial or portable signs or billboards allowed)

  • the following uses are prohibited: convenience food store with self service fuel sales; full service gas stations; automotive repair; radio, television and other communication towers and antennas; self-service laundry facilities; pawn and title pawn shops; pool halls, billiards and tattoo shops

  • Fire Department comments and recommendations, Water and Sewer Division comments and recommendations, Stormwater Management Division comments and recommendations, Cobb DOT comments and recommendations, owner/developer to enter into a Development Agreement pursuant to O.C.G.A. ~36-71- 13 for dedication of system improvements to mitigate traffic concerns

  • inclusion on Consent Agenda for the Board of Commissioners zoning hearing of June 19, 2007

VOTE: ADOPTED unanimously

MINUTES OF ZONING HEARING

COBB COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

JUNE 19, 2007 PAGE 4

MOTION: Motion by Lee, second by Goreham, as part of the Consent Agenda, to approve Rezoning to the NRC zoning district subject to:

  • site plan received by the Zoning Division April 3, 2007, with the District Commissioner approving minor modifications ( attached and made a part of these minutes)

  • hours of operation limited - all businesses to close by midnight

  • architecture to consist of a combination of brick and stucco

  • enclosures for dumpsters to be constructed of same materials as the building

  • HVAC to be screened from view

  • awnings to be placed on storefront windows and doors

  • if a tenant is a restaurant, then an area for outdoor seating and patio would be set aside (subject to Plan Review approval)

  • ground based monument style signage ( no aerial or portable signs or billboards allowed) the following uses are prohibited: convenience food store with self service fuel sales; full service gas stations; automotive repair; radio, television and other communication towers and antennas; self-service laundry facilities; pawn and title pawn shops; pool halls, billiards and tattoo shops

  • Fire Department comments and recommendations, Water and Sewer Division comments and recommendations, Stormwater Management Division comments and recommendations,

  • Cobb DOT comments and recommendations owner/developer to enter into a Development Agreement pursuant to O.C.G.A. ~36-71- 13 for dedication of system improvements to mitigate traffic concerns

VOTE: ADOPTED unanimously

The blighted structure below was on the Redevelopment Inventory site. It was demolished and in 2013 Waffle House applied with case Z-53.

MINUTES OF ZONING HEARING

COBB COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

PAGE 5

CONSENT CASES CONT.


Z-53 WAFFLE HOUSE, INC. ( David B. Mizelle and Dana Mizelle, owners requesting Rezoning from NS to NRC for the purpose of a restaurant in Land Lot 85 of the 16' District. Located on the west side of Canton Road, south of ]amerson Road and north of Old Noonday School House Road 4797 Canton Road).

To approve Rezoning to the NRC zoning district

subject to:

NRC tor purpose of redevelopment for Waffle House restaurant

Planning Division comments and recommendations

Fire Department comments and recommendations

StormwaterManagement Division comments and recommendations

Water and Sewer Division comments and recommendations

Cobb DOT comments and recommendations Owner/developer to enter into a Development Agreement

pursuant to O.C.G.A. §36- 71- 13 for dedication of system improvements to mitigate traffic concerns




Above: Canton Road Redevelopment Foundation 2012: Stakeholders meeting Clockwise: Commissioner Birrell (Government), Planning Commissioner Trombetti (Government), Frank Wigington (Business) Maureen Kozol (Education), Carol Brown (CRN Community Representative), Chuck Martin (Business). Photo by Patch 2012

The infrastructure projects at the Canton-Jamerson intersection and on Jamerson Road to Lee Waters were funded by the 2005 SPLOST. The photo above, looking north at the intersection from Canton Road, is before the SPLOST project was implemented in 2012.

Note the sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks, median at turn lane and upgraded traffic signals below.


An area can also be shaped when an application is rejected. In 2011 the progress on the northern section of Canton Corridor was threatened by the application Special Land Use Permit 3, Snapfinger Properties LLC for a scrap metal processing plant. The applicant proceeded with his plan prior to the mandated review by the ARC as a Development of Regional Impact, which was required before the case was heard by the County.

This application was opposed by a coalition which included Canton Road Neighbors, East Cobb Baseball, East Cobb Civic Association, Northeast Cobb Coalition and parents of Kell High School students. The ARC recommended approval for this intense use, but the Planning Commission recommended Denial and the BoC rejected the application.

SLUP-3 SNAPFINGER PROPERTIES, LLC ( owner) requesting a Special Land Use Permit for the purpose of Operation Of Steel, Metal, And Iron Processing And Transfer Station in Land Lots 131 and 132 of the 16th District. Located on the west side of Lee Waters Road, south of Jamerson Road; and at the northeast intersection of Canton Road and Fowler Circle. Chairman Lee announced that Commissioner Birrell would recuse herself on this petition.

The public hearing then was opened and Mr. Parks Huff, Ms. Carol Brown, Ms. Jill Flamm, Mr. Jim Smith and Mr. David Allen Roberts addressed the Board. Following presentation and discussion, the following motion was made:

MOTION: Motion by Lee, second by Otl, to reiect Special Land Use Permit, with directive that Code Enforcement action be delayed for 120 days, and that Planning Division staff review area for possible amendment(s) to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Map. VOTE: ADOPTED 4-0- 1 ( Birrell abstained)


The applicant took the case to court, withdrew the appeal, and the property was sold. The current occupants are Bulk's and Property Masters. Those businesses are a much better fit next to East Cobb Baseball and near Kell High School.

Now, a new residential neighborhood is under construction across from Property Masters and East Cobb Baseball on Lee Waters Road. Logan Park was approved in April 2017. It would never have been built across from a metal scrap yard.

One of the largest and eventually, most attractive developments in the northern section was Z-47, Sigma Thermal on Deen Road off of Jamerson and Canton Hwy. An undeveloped site adjacent to GA NE Railroad, a cement plant and a busy commercial node, it had been used by some to dump old tires and other waste. The site was across from a residential area, just off Jamerson and near Kell High School. A large challenging property, it took a zoning and multiple Other Business applications before the plan was ready to be built out. This industrial headquarters was a rare win-win for the owners, the residents and the county. The owners installed nearly 800 linear feet of sidewalks, attractive fencing, heavy landscaping and an attractive office building for their corporate headquarters. For the first time, students walking to Kell High School could walk there safely on sidewalks.

Another large tract that had been brought in several times to rezone for convenience store with fuel sales was finally approved in early 2016 for Racetrac at the corner of Canton and Shallowford. This busy station added traffic to a challenging intersection. Safety improvements to the intersection are planned to be built with the 2016 SPLOST.

Other improvements have been made near the Hawkins Store intersection and in 2018, Cobb County purchased 18 acres of greenspace on Ebenezer, just off of Canton.

The Loft District

While improvements have taken place just south of the Piedmont Canton intersection, much remains to be done on the southern section of Canton Corridor. The renovation of Bay Breeze and construction of Heath Linebeck Engineering stand out as major contributors to the changes in the area. Racetrac upgraded their station at 2337 Canton in 2016 but the public is still waiting on a new driveway and signal at the Liberty Hill intersection.

South of Liberty Hill to the Merge, these photographs present a stark difference to the improvements that have taken place on the rest of the corridor. In addition to the lack of quality growth, an inadequate SPLOST project budget and a budget shortfall in the County's General Fund contribute to this area's challenges. The overall appearance of this section is a disincentive to investment. Perhaps if more effort had been made to assemble parcels for redevelopment rather than focusing on marketing older vacant properties, change could have come about more quickly in the current market. An Enterprise Zone designation has not brought about the desired result and has largely been beneficial to a single industrial firm.

2377 Canton


2328 Canton



Right of Way 2200 block Canton

2120 Canton


Rib Ranch closed December 2017

2100 Canton


There are some takeaways from this Corridor study: If there is to be redevelopment of a fairly large area, it will take time, at this point, 13 years and counting. Planning needs to be in place and commitment is needed by decision makers to adhere to it in a consistent way. It helps to have buy-in from a diverse group of stakeholders. Progress on Canton Hwy is inadequate in the southern section. Even without more private sector investment, the appearance of the area could have been improved greatly by county investment in sidewalks and streetscape. They could have been more proactive in use of nuisance abatement, extending the sewer line south, improved roadway safety measures, and acquiring greenspace. These were all recommendations by the Canton Road Steering Committee in 2004 and 2005, and we are still waiting for results.