Wednesday, June 6, 2018


SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 2018

The final restaurant at the Kennesaw Marketplace Mall is now open.




Kennesaw settles lawsuit with gas station developer

Ross Williams   MDJ  6/7/18

A yearlong battle between residents of Kennesaw’s Ellison Lake townhome community and a developer hoping to build a gas station at the end of their street has come to an end.

The City Council voted this week to accept a settlement under which the city would use $150,000 in voter-approved sales tax funds to purchase 3.58 acres inside the development for the creation of a passive community park. The developer, meanwhile, would place a commercial business other than a gas station at the development’s entrance.

Convenience chain Speedway and Ellison Lake Partners, the developer of the 130-acre community, had plans to put a 24-hour convenience store with a filling station on undeveloped land near the entrance of Ellison Lake.


Residents fought against the proposed gas station at council meetings last year, and the city ultimately denied the request to build the gas station.

That prompted Speedway and Ellison to file suit against the city last June. The parties reached a compromise in January.

Monday’s unanimous vote to approve the settlement was the first vote cast by the council’s newest member, Councilwoman Tracey Viars, who was sworn in earlier that night.

Viars said although she was not on the council when the settlement was reached, she thinks it worked out well for residents and the developer.

“I think it was a good compromise for all the parties involved and a smart move on everybody’s part,” she said. “I think in the end, everybody gets what they want— the developer will get to develop the property, the residents at Ellison Lake will have a great asset in their neighborhood … All the way around, I think it was a good settlement for everyone involved.”


Ellison Lake residents seemed to agree. When the council made its decision, there were scattered applause from audience members. Speaking at the beginning of the meeting, Ellison Lake Homeowner Association President Joyce Yung said residents there were grateful to the city for reaching the compromise.

“Everyone here wishes to preserve the appearance, safety and lifestyle of our community,” she said. “As such, we would like to thank the mayor, the council and the city staff for their continued effort in preserving the tranquility of Ellison Lake from potential undesirable development. Addressing issues such as the one before you tonight demonstrates to everyone the city has the resources and sound judgement to protect the best interests of the citizens.”

KENNESAW MARKETPLACE MALL

You know what it looks like today but here is that property in the mid-stage, after the slum trailer park (Castle Lake MHP) was removed but before the new stores and 55+ Senior Development were put up.

You can take a look at the entire history of that Kennesaw property with photos and comments, at:  https://castlelakekennesaw.blogspot.com/



The below shows the remains of the Castle Lake Mobile Home Park.  One third of this park remains, the other 2/3rds was sold off to Fuqua, Inc for the Kennesaw Marketplace Mall.  The remaining park is still a slum, but worth a lot more now being next to the new mall.  The CLMHP is the triangular slice in the middle of the photo.  It remains in Cobb County but the new mall was added to the City of Kennesaw 2 years ago.





Old Marietta (O.M.)

Eye Witness Account Of The Stealing Of The General Locomotive
written by Joe Bozeman, FIFTH GENERATION KENNESAW
painting by Wilbur G. Kurtz
My roots in Kennesaw, GA go back to the building of the Western & Atlantic Railroad. This is the story of my Great Grandfather, James A. Skelton. A story of a boy born in the depths of poverty, at the time our nation was facing its biggest crisis, The American Civil War.

“Grandpa Jim”, as my mother calls him, was born on March 19, 1848 in a dirt floored shanty shack beside the tracks of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in Big Shanty, GA now called Kennesaw. His Grandfather Guess, a railroad laborer, built the structure while the railroad bed was being graded from Terminus, now Atlanta, to Ross’s Landing, now Chattanooga, TN. Jim’s father was a railroad laborer also, but died at an early age, leaving a widow and four small children. Being the oldest, Jim had to grow up fast, and this was not an easy task in the dirt poor section around Big Shanty. Very little opportunity existed. In fact, he and his family were little more than “white slaves”, depending on the railroad to make their way in life. They were free to leave railroad camps, but where else could they have gone to make a living?

Jim was 14 in the second year of The Civil War. The war complicated his life even more, States Rights meant little to his kind and quite frankly, many slaves lived a better life than he and his kin. What it boiled down to was this, Jim had no “dog in this fight”, but it would surely involve him sooner or later.

He needed to earn some money to help his mother, so he decided to go to Cartersville, GA in search of work. Train crews on the W&A had told him there might be an opportunity there as a water boy or a locomotive fireman. So, on the morning of April 12, 1862, he purchased a round trip ticket to Cartersville and boarded a train in Big Shanty while it was stopped for breakfast at the Lacy Hotel. He had no idea that he was about to witness one of the most daring operations of the Civil War

It was a mixed train pulled by the locomotive “General” made up of three boxcars next to the engine, a combination passenger car, and two regular coaches. As he walked from the depot, he noticed a group of strangers standing around. He went into the combination car and took a seat. In a few minutes he saw a “passel” of men walk by heading toward the engine. He then heard someone uncouple the boxcar in front of him. He thought nothing of this because it was normal for the fireman and the brakeman to switch cars while the rest of the crew was eating breakfast. He raised the window to watch, and saw the locomotive and boxcars speeding up the tracks. 
Someone yelled, “ They’ve stolen the train” and Fuller, Cain, and Murphy rushed out of the hotel and up the tracks in pursuit of the engine that had then disappeared and was probably nearing Moon Station.

I have always wished my Great Grandfather had run north with the pursuers. When he died on October 8, 1941, he was the last living witness of the stealing of the General. It would have been nice if he had been the last survivor of The Great Locomotive Chase, but being a boy of 14, I guess he thought his mother would have been worried about him. Besides, at the time most people believed the train had been hijacked by Confederate deserters from Camp McDonald.

Jim did not get a job with the W&A, and so at the age of 14, he joined the Georgia State Guards. It wasn’t what he wanted, but it would provide some money for his mother and the other children. His first assignment was guarding bridges along the W&A Railroad. This worked out well because he was close to home and could see his family often. But, in 1864 he was assigned duty that haunted him the rest of his life.

One morning in February 1864, he was sent to Augusta, GA where he boarded a train loaded with Union prisoners in route to the infamous Confederate prison at Andersonville called Fort Sumter, and was assigned guard duty at the stockade. It might have been better than combat, but it was terrible duty. The death rate from disease was almost as high for the Confederate guards as it was for the prisoners. 

Jim stayed there until the prisoners were moved to other locations and then was assigned to a Confederate unit that was rounding up deserters in the North Georgia Mountains. When the war ended, his unit surrendered to Union General Judea at Kingston, GA and he walked south on the tracks of the W&A to his home in Big Shanty.

It was a terrible sight. The rail line was almost a complete wreck. What track that wasn’t torn up, rails heated and twisted around trees, had been lifted up and turned over like a section of fence.

While the destruction of the railroad was horrible, arriving home was worse. Both armies had passed through Big Shanty and nothing was left of his hometown. There wasn’t a thing to eat. It was just blank. The face of the earth had been swept clean, not an animal existed. 
The Lacy Hotel, the shanty shacks, the depot, and homes were burned to the ground. His mother and the children were living in a wrecked rail car with several other families. They had survived on the little given to them by Confederate and Union troops and what they could find in the woods.


FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2018

Kennesaw council could settle with gas station, developer
Shaddi Abusaid MDJ 6/1/18
Kennesaw’s City Council could vote on a settlement agreement Monday that would bring an end to a yearlong battle between Ellison Lakes residents and a developer hoping to build a gas station at the end of their street.
Under the tentative agreement, the city would use $150,000 in voter-approved sales tax funds to purchase 3.58 acres inside the development for the creation of a passive community park. The developer, meantime, would place a commercial business other than a gas station at the development’s entrance.
A lawsuit was filed last June against the city, its mayor and councilmembers by convenience chain Speedway and Ellison Lake Partners, the developer of the 130-acre community, after a request to build the gas station on undeveloped land near the entrance of Ellison Lakes was denied in May of 2017.
Ellison Lakes, located along Cobb Parkway just north of Old 41, includes two townhome communities and two apartment complexes totaling more than 800 units.
Residents fought against the proposed gas station at council meetings last year, arguing they didn’t want a 24-hour service station sprouting up at the end of their dead end street.
The request was ultimately denied by council members, prompting the developer to file a lawsuit against the city.
The community’s master plan was initially approved back in 2001 with the intention of including commercial development along the property’s frontage. In 2011, however, the city changed its zoning ordinance, removing convenience stores from the list of commercial uses in districts zoned “planned village commercial,” Richard Calhoun, the developer’s attorney, said last year.
But an agreement between city officials and developers was hashed out during a mediation conference in late January, according to Monday’s council agenda. Under the tentative agreement, the city would buy undeveloped land inside Ellison Lakes and create a park. In exchange, the land along Cobb Parkway would be developed according to city code. The settlement agreement includes a lengthy list of commercial businesses that could go into the undeveloped space at the front of the neighborhood, but a gas station is not one of them.
City Manager Jeff Drobney said the prospective parkland is valued at $450,000.
While city officials hope to settle the suit once and for all Monday, nothing is set in stone. City attorney Randall Bentley said there were still a few “substantive tweaks” to make before the council can vote on the agreement.
“It’s not finalized yet,” Drobney said. “There are still a few minor changes that we’re waiting to get approval on. There could be some slight modifications on Monday if they agree to it.”
Joyce Yung, president of the Ellison Lake Homeowners Association, was one of the residents who led the charge against the Speedway last year. She remains hopeful the city and developer will reach a resolution.
“It’s been a long effort for the mayor and council and the city staff and we appreciate them standing up for us,” said Yung, who plans on attending Monday’s meeting. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
Drobney said if all goes well, the settlement would be a win for the residents, who would get a new park in their community but not the gas station they fought so hard against.
Councilman Chris Henderson said the settlement would be a “best of both worlds” scenario.
“The city would get a new park out of it and it’s straightforward about what the other side would have to do to develop on that land,” Henderson said. “That community lost their trust in the city there, but I like that we’re able to get them a park at a pretty large discount… $150,000 is pretty cheap for multiple acres in this area.”
VIARS TO BE SWORN IN
Kennesaw’s newest council member Tracey Viars formally assumes her new role Monday. Viars, who chaired the Kennesaw Downtown Development Authority, defeated opponent Kemela Carlson last Tuesday in a city wide special called election to fill the Post 2 seat vacated earlier this year by former councilwoman Yvette Daniel.


Kennesaw’s City Council could vote on a settlement agreement Monday that would bring an end to a yearlong battle between Ellison Lakes residents and a developer…
MDJONLINE.COM

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The Kennesaw Watch 11 Months ago I reported on this issue and opined on https://kennesawwatch.blogspot.com/ that the City would not win but would be forced to settle and that is what happened. As usual the City under the stewardship of the City Attorney screwed up again.
Here is what I said then: 


TUESDAY, JULY 4, 2017

SPEEDWAY LLC AND ELLISON LAKE PARTNERS LLC V. CITY OF KENNESAW

ON JUNE 13, 2017, CIVIL CASE NUMBER: 17104508 WAS FILED IN COBB COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT.

THE NAMED DEFENDANTS ARE THE CITY OF KENNESAW, MAYOR AND ALL COUNCIL MEMBERS.

THE INITIAL FILING RUNS 90 PAGES WITH EXHIBITS AND CHALLENGES THE CITY'S MAY 15, 2017 DENIAL OF THE PLAINTIFF'S AUG. 2016 REQUEST TO BUILD A 24 HOUR "MEGA GAS STATION/CONVENIENCE STORE" ON 3.79 ACRES AT THE NW CORNER OF ELLISON LAKES DRIVE AND COBB PKY (AKA: HWY 41), THIS IS JUST ACROSS FROM THE OLD ACE HARDWARE STORE AND JUST NORTH OF THE COBB POLICE/FIRE STATION. THE PROPERTY ADDRESS IS 2155 COBB PKY.

THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT ANCHORS THE EAST END OF THE 130 ACRE ELLISON LAKE 'PLANNED VILLAGE COMMUNITY' WHICH HAS 300 TOWNHOMES.

UNLESS AN AGREEMENT CAN BE REACHED THE MATTER MAY BE IN THE COURTS FOR SEVERAL YEARS. IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT THE CITY WILL PREVAIL BUT SUCH MATTERS USUALLY SETTLE AND WOULD PROBABLY BE SENT TO ARBITRATION BEFORE ANY COURT RULING.

THE VARIOUS FILINGS ARE AVAILABLE VIA:HTTPS://CTSEARCH.COBBSUPERIORCOURTCLERK.COM/



5/30/18

BEFORE THE KENNESAW CITY COUNCIL MONDAY JUNE 4th:

NEW BUSINESS
 Approval of RESOLUTION to ratify certified election results of the May 22, 2018 Kennesaw Special Election for Council Post 2 as provided by Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration.

Prior to the newly elected official joining the dais, Oaths of Office will be administered to Post 2 City Councilmember, Tracey Viars by Judge Phil Taylor.

There were 19,579 registered voters with 2,696 votes cast, equivalent to a 13.8% turnout.

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5/27/18
MY ADVICE TO THE KENNESAW CITY COUNCIL


If you have not already had 'the talk' with City Attorney Bentley about 'due process' and his opinion that no one on the council should voice any opinion on any issue coming before the council until you vote on it, you will be hearing from him about this.

He has provided misleading and incorrect information to various city council members for years and unfortunately they all seem to believe him and in my own contacts with elected officials on council over the years they were uniform in refusing to voice any indication of how they might vote on any decision.

In particular this came up when the Cruchelow Pawn Shop opened in a Kennesaw strip mall where it was specifically prohibited.  My contacts with the entire council of 5 got 3 replies all to the effect that the matter could not be commented on until it was voted on.  This foolishness is direct from Bentley who seems to have been absent on  the days his law classes discussed 'due process' and he has for years infected city council members with his incorrect interpretation of the term.

In the civil sense all due process means is that this clause  promises that 'before depriving a citizen of life, liberty or property, government must follow fair procedures'.  It has absolutely no bar for any legislator to take a position on any matter and make that position known.  All matters before any legislative body must be given a fair hearing.

No other legislative body in this country restricts its legislators from voicing their opinions on any pending matter that comes before them.  It seems that this restriction is solely found in Kennesaw and it is due to Bentley's mis-interpertation of what due process means.

Whether it is abortion, immigration, the budget or what sort of businesses should be allowed in downtown Kennesaw, no legislator can be barred from stating their opinion before they vote on the matter.  

So if, or when, the city attorney cautions you that you can't comment on an issue that is before the council or may come before the council, before it is voted on, I hope you will ignore his poor advice and if you think that this or that issue is not in the best interests of Kennesaw, then give your opinion.  Remember that due process only applies to the legislators giving a fair and impartial hearing to any and all issues before it, there is no restriction(s) in the 5th and 14th amendments for any legislator to have to stay silent on any issue until it is voted on.


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Mrs Viars wins the Post 2 Kennesaw Council Seat.

Viars wins in Kennesaw

Ross Williams MDJ  5/23/18 

There will soon be a new face on the Kennesaw City Council.

Tracey Viars, a mother of three who runs a Kennesaw-based advertising and marketing company, defeated her opponent Kemela Carlson, who also has three children and who works in revenue management for Delta Air Lines.

Viars got 1,377 votes out of a total 2,352, good for 58.6 percent, while Carlson took 975 votes, or 41.5 percent, according to unofficial results.

Viars will finish the term of former Councilwoman Yvette Daniel, who resigned abruptly in January after missing 29 meetings over her two years in office, including 23 in 2017 alone. That term is set to expire at the end of 2019.

Viars said her edge in the race was thanks to her experience, which includes six years as a member of the Downtown Kennesaw Development Authority and three years as its chair, and serving as leader for a host of community events.


Note:  The above totals did not include the absentee votes, they are included in the below totals.

Kennesaw City Council, Post 2 

Add this race to my races
Click for Contest Details
Precincts Reporting: 100%

Votes
KEMELA CARLSON

990
TRACEY VIARS

1,406



2,396