200 FACTBOOK | 2022
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Calling the shopping center an “anvil around the
neck of this community,” Moore pointed to months of
negotiations between his client and the community as
evidence of Atlantic’s work to improve the proposal. He
cited among their concessions a 10% rental cap on the
townhomes, major downsizing of the overall number
of residential units, and a promise from Atlantic to
rehabilitate a family cemetery in the center of the property.
Moore also presented the board with an argument he’s
deployed before—while the plan may not be ideal, it was
“the best possible, most realistic option for redevelopment
of this site.”
“To reject it is to condemn this site and this property
owner to decades more of what you have today,” Moore
said, closing his well-rehearsed pitch at the moment his
allotted 10 minutes expired.
Prior to her motion, Birrell spent over half an hour
addressing the numerous criticisms and concerns
over the proposal. Reminding the crowd she had been
looking to solve the Sprayberry question since she first
came into office 10 years ago, Birrell defended both
herself and the county.
“I was the first to say no apartments at Sprayberry
Crossing,” she said. Birrell noted the buildings’ proposed
height had been reduced from five to three stories. A
requirement under the redevelopment ordinance that a
number of units be set aside for low-income residents
was also waived. After years of work, she argued, the
county, the community, and the developer had arrived
at a design which, despite its flaws, would decisively
improve the area.
“All in all, this plan … is what was asked for,” Birrell
said. “The plan that you see before you today is not a
perfect plan by any means … there is no perfect plan.”
Further changes to the design, Birrell noted, would
be subject to review either by herself, the board, or a
committee of community members, depending on their
scope and nature.
The commissioner also pushed back against what she saw
as “a lot of discussion of the county not doing their jobs.”
Cobb, she said, had done everything in its power to
clean up the decay and crime on the property. The county
implemented a blight tax, which multiplied the property
owner’s property taxes by 700% in 2019 and 2020. Code
enforcement took 391 complaints on the property since
2004. Police, meanwhile, responded to 127 calls from
the property in the last five years. Birrell, determined to
meticulously make her case, submitted documentation of
all these facts into the record.
Those arguments failed to placate the opposition. After
the vote, opposition members shouted, “Thank you Keli!”
to Commissioner Gambrill, who received applause when
she announced her ‘no’ vote.