Most people in East Cobb are fairly satisfied with Cobb County government. Cityhood sounds like it may be a solution in search of a problem.
Bring Management Closer to Home.
Cobb County has four Commissioners who represent 750,000 citizens --- approximately 190,000 citizens per district. The proposed city of East Cobb will have 6 council members who represent approximately 60,000 citizens--- approximately 10,000 per district.
The proposed six council members would be voting on issues they are familiar with within the community they reside. They will not have to confront the massive county-wide issues that the Cobb County Commissioners routinely face. These councilors will make decisions that directly affect East Cobb. They will not be required to weigh Cobb's interests as a whole against decisions that will make East Cobb better.
Another important consideration is that all Cobb County elected offices are partisan. The proposed city of East Cobb will have a mayor and six council members who residents will elect on a non-partisan basis. A smaller non-partisan government will allow greater citizen control over the decisions being made on their behalf. A City Council managed by their fellow East Cobb residents will exercise their vote with a greater understanding of their actions' likely results. As Thomas Jefferson noted, "the government closest to the people serves the people best."
A "City-Lite" approach is being proposed following community feedback received in 2019. The city services under consideration are Community Development including Planning and Zoning, Parks and Recreation, and Code Enforcement.
A city in Georgia must provide at least three city services to residents to qualify for incorporation. These services can be reconsidered and revised in response to community suggestions and recommendations from the finance committee and a new City of East Cobb Feasibility Study to be commissioned.
In this scenario, East Cobb could pass zonings with no vote from anyone outside of the city. This will allow the city to stop high-density residential and commercial development that counties cannot usually stop. The city can reserve green space and restrict eyesore developments. The city permit process will be streamlined for those who wish to upgrade their homes. Citizens may serve on an "all citizen zoning board." Which makes zoning recommendations to the full City Council. A planning commission will be formed to look at any new zoning requests proactively.
In 2018-2019 when this was being discussed, I recall that there were a couple of different maps. Is it more locked in this time?
The boundaries are the first question everyone asks! We'll post it as soon as it is finalized. There was a lot of community feedback about the map. We want to get it right the first time. We'll post it as soon as it is ready. It will be a smaller area than what was proposed in 2018-2019.
Is the Feasibility Study is going to be updated/redone since the services and boundaries are now better aligned to the community feedback?
A new Feasibility Study will be conducted based on the updated boundaries and "City-Lite" approach to services. There was a study completed in 2018 based on earlier proposals for cityhood. Following community feedback, it determined that the boundaries and services needed to be updated. Therefore, an updated feasibility study will be required based on the revised parameters.
Some parts of the current areas known as "East Cobb," such as the Lassiter area, will be excluded
Yes! The City of East Cobb was listed on the initial feasibility study in 2018. East Cobb is the most commonly recognized name for this unincorporated Cobb County area and was used for the initial round of legislation. Community input is needed to decide on a name. The citizens of the new city will ultimately decide what it will be named.
No city center has been proposed or discussed. Any decisions about a potential government center would be left in the City Council's hands after the City has been put into operation. It is hoped that the City of East Cobb will ultimately have a city center for ease of operations, citizen convenience, and community engagement. No property or location has been identified.
There was a grassroots effort in 2018 and 2019 that started in East Cobb to explore cityhood. It was initiated by a small group of people with a genuine concern that East Cobb is not realizing its potential. There were several town hall meetings and debates on the question. The outcome was that it was premature to move forward without taking into account the feedback from the community that was received. It was clear that the committee needed to address the following:
- Reset the ambitions of the city to a smaller footprint with fewer services.
- Increase communication about the process and rationale.
- Gather more community input every step of the way.
Yes. East Cobb schools will continue to be part of the Cobb County School District, and school lines will continue to be determined by the Cobb County Board of Education. The Cobb County schools in the East Cobb area are among our best assets, and nothing will change that. Such a change would require a Constitutional amendment, and that is not on the table.
The School Tax exemption at age 62 will continue. School taxes are per Cobb County school district, and your senior exemption will not change.
Bring Community Leadership and Organized Activities
Ability to Spend City Money on City Projects.
The financial control exercised by the City Council will allow it to spend money on projects that might not be on the County's priority lists. Parks, dog parks, bike paths, and jogging trails…imagine what the City of East Cobb could provide. And, these types of community improvements can lead the way to increased home values.
If the argument is the Cobb County Commissioners are spread to thin, it might be more reasonable to add commissioners to get the same benefits.
Not really. More commissioners still would not provide East Cobb with the complete benefits of cityhood. The size of the population represented by each Commissioner is a challenge as it increases the size and complexity of their workloads. Another real problem to consider is that commissioners from throughout the county vote on East Cobb's issues. It is not realistic to expect each Commissioner to know the impact of a new development project on East Cobb residents when they may not have ever been in that part of the county. They are not elected from East Cobb, and they don't even have to drive through the area to get to the County Commission meetings.
Cityhood would put decisions into the hands of people who know the area, be accessible for area residents to express their opposition or support, and have a greater interest in what goes on in the area because it literally is happening in their backyards. Further, the East Cobb City Council members are motivated to strictly decide what is good for East Cobb rather than what is best for the county overall. With a large county like Cobb, it is always possible that the three Commissioners representing other areas will decide that Cobb County as a whole or their own district will be served best by approving measures that are not ideal for the East Cobb area. They were elected to do what is best for the whole county, and that may not be the best for East Cobb, and there is little recourse.
For example, a non-local investor can acquire a commercial property, propose plans to build high-density commercial or residential properties, and apply to tear down a shopping center. It has the potential to force out thriving local businesses. Allowing a zoning change like this might make sense to the Cobb County Commissioners because it would increase Cobb tax revenues. But, it would not make sense for the community. Large increases in population would fundamentally affect the area surrounding them by increasing traffic and possibly impacting the local schools. You can be sure that an East Cobb City Council would weigh the merits of a change like this with a more community-focused review.
What examples can you provide of development issues that the county government has not resolved in favor of East Cobb?
Look around areas in East Cobb, and you can see projects that may have pushed the envelope on density that border on over-development. Planning and zoning issues are major concerns for East Cobb residents that should be handled at the local level.
An important concern that needs to be addressed is the matter of conditions that a local council should impose on developers. For example, East Cobb development projects are routinely voted without requiring developers to preserve trees on the development site. Look at the trees lost in the new development at the corner of Bishop Lake Road and Johnson Ferry next to the Mr. Zion United Methodist Church and across from St. Peter and St. Paul Episcopal Church.
Click here to see the map.
Decisions about how the lots will be allowed to be developed are equally of concern. The city of East Cobb will certainly be more motivated to limit the impact of development than the Cobb County Commission has demonstrated.
There are many sources of market value available online. And, you should consult a local real estate professional for specifics in your neighborhood. A little digging online turned up median home values on Redfin.com. Here is a table showing the median home value in January of each year from 2017 - 2020.
Ultimately, the question of outsourcing will be decided by the City Council. City services could be outsourced initially or indefinitely, and the City of East Cobb would still save money over its taxes paid as unincorporated areas of Cobb County.
East Cobb is not seceding from Cobb County. There should be minimal impact on the county. There will be no change to the senior tax exemption, and there will no changes in the funding and management of East Cobb's excellent public school system. The desire to have local control and to enjoy the benefits of being a city appeals to the best rather than worst instincts. It is designed to enhance our East Cobb friends' and neighbors' lives and not take anything from them or anyone else in Cobb County. In fact, an improved East Cobb will attract people and resources to Cobb and should have a positive overall impact.
No change is expected in property or sales taxes to increase or decrease current tax rates. The City of East Cobb is basing all its projections on maintaining the current level of property tax.
The idea is to get more for the taxes we pay rather than pay more taxes.
It is anticipated that the City will establish ethics and transparency policies that mirror or expand on those from Cobb County and other newly-organized metro Atlanta municipalities.
Cobb County, GA currently has six (6) cities. We compiled details on each city from information readily found online at the Cobb County website and Wikipedia. The Table Of Cobb County Cities includes the number of city councilors who represent the residents, in addition to the current Cobb County Commissioners. In the last line, we included that details for the proposed City of East Cobb to allow the comparison to be made. While the details remain to be finalized, this serves to provide an approximate comparison and illustrates the "City-Lite" approach would provide additional representation that is aligned with other cities in the county.
Table of Cobb County Cities
Local Rep Ratio (council:pop.)
Acworth 1840 9.68 22,818 1 Mayor + 5 Councillors 1:4,564 Austell 1885 5.95 7,170 1 Mayor + 6 Councillors 1:1,195 Kennesaw 1887 9.82 34,077 1 Mayor + 5 Councillors 1:6,815 Marietta 1852 23.48 60,867 1 Mayor + 7 Councillors 1:8,695 Powder Springs 1838 7.37 15,758 1 Mayor + 5 Councillors 1:3,152 Smyrna 1872 15.59 56,666 1 Mayor + 7 Councillors 1:8,095 Proposed City of East Cobb 2023 TBD 60,000 1 Mayor/Councillor + 5 Councillors 1:10,000
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