Marietta V2017-22 DENY Variance, UNLESS Day Services are restricted on site.

This petition made change with 216 supporters!


Garvis Sams Esq. attorney for MUST Ministries, sent a letter to Rusty Roth,  Director of Development Services for Marietta, yesterday afternoon 10/05, withdrawing the MUST Ministries Appeal of Variance 2017-22 to Marietta City Council.  Previously the appeal was scheduled for Oct 11th and MUST submitted a request that it be tabled until Nov. 8th.  The Community was opposed to further postponement of the appeal since the process had already spanned 5 months.  The reason given for the request to table until November 8th was to modify the daily lunch program.   The community realized this was not going to be a substantive solution to the problems caused by the unsheltered homeless, who are MUST's Outreach Clients.  MUST apparently realized that approval of the appeal may have been in question and withdrew the case.

MUST has several options but an appeal to Superior Court is not now one of them. 

MUST was awarded a $1,000,000.00 grant tied to 1260 Cobb Parkway by Community Development Block Grants last year, to be paid out over 4 years. That grant could perhaps be modified to another property or for construction if MUST chose to request it.  MUST also has ample space at 55 Elizabeth Church to build a new shelter. If  MUST decides to buy 1260 Cobb Parkway, the lack of a Variance to permit a Shelter within less than 750' of residentially zoned property will limit their ability to expand at that location.

Whatever the outcome, the community may still have to contend with problems caused by the proximity of unsheltered homeless to neighborhoods.  That was not going to change even if the Variance had been approved but it was likely to have intensified since MUST had planned to nearly double in capacity.

We believe that the neighborhoods will now be more proactive and better able to work together with the city and county to address a range of issues.  We hope that MUST can find a way to continue their dual mission as an Emergency Shelter and provider of Street Outreach to unsheltered homeless in a way that does not continue to create problems for the residential community.   









A front page article in the Sunday Marietta Daily Journal stated that the MUST Appeal to City Council would be heard on Wednesday. This is not correct. The Appeal was withdrawn by MUST on 09/06 and will be refiled after the 13th. The anticipated date is Wed. October 11 at 7:00 PM per Rusty Roth, Director of Development Services, City of Marietta.

The Community Awareness Committee of the Neighborhood Safety Commission (NSC) will sponsor a panel discussion Wednesday, Sept. 20 on the topic of Homeless in Cobb County. The discussion will be televised live on Cobb TV starting at 7:00 PM. If you would like to attend, the meeting will be held in the Board of Commissioners Meeting Room at 100 Cherokee Street, Bldg. A, 2nd floor. The discussion is free and open for all individuals to attend. Visit Neighborhood Safety Commission to learn more.

Please ask your friends and neighbors to sign the petition and to attend the Oct 11th Appeal at 7 pm Marietta City Council.









MUST Ministries to Appeal BZA decision to Marietta City Council Wednesday October 11, 7:00 pm  SEE MDJ ARTICLE


Variance Denied 6-1, MUST vows to move ahead with plan

A sizeable crowd turned out to oppose Variance 2017-22 to allow MUST to build a new shelter at 1260 Cobb Parkway.  It was denied after a lengthy hearing, 6-1, Justice Barber supporting.   MUST has several options - one is to appeal the BZA decision to Council within 30 days  If Council does not approve, MUST can appeal to Cobb Superior Court.  MUST can also divide the 6 acre lot and remodel the existing gray buildings close to Cobb Parkway or demolish and build a new shelter.  The obvious question is why not build on the current 1.8 acre site which could be done with permits?

The MDJ features the story on the front page.

One quote in the story is noteworthy:  "Reighard and Hausfeld repeated that the men in the woods are not MUST clients and said they provide day services to everyone in need out of necessity."   There is considerable evidence that MUST does serve the unsheltered homeless men, including the 2012 Patch article outlining MUST's expanded Day Service center designed to reach out to those camping in the woods, sleeping in cars and under bridges.

Thanks to each of you for your support.  This isn't over and we will keep you updated.


MUST buys 1280 Field Pkwy (warehouse on 1.68 ac) from Cobb EMC for $1,394,000.00 and Cobb EMC provided owner financing. The sale took place on 08/21/17. Cobb EMC acquired 1280 Field Pkwy in 2007 for $1,949,000.  The MUST plan is moving ahead. Be sure to turn out for the August 28 6:00 pm BZA meeting at City Hall, 205 Lawrence St. Marietta 30060. Please ask your friends and neighbors to sign the Change petition. 

Throughout this application the petition blog has acknowledged MUST's good work in Cobb and the region and has kept the discourse civil and factual.  The overarching community concern is the size and proximity of a group of 50 to 70 unsheltered homeless men who have serious untreated issues. They are camping near neighborhoods and receiving generous goods and services from MUST without restriction.  MUST has declined the community's request to curtail services to this population, and instead offered to create a staff liaison to listen to ongoing community concerns.

There is is a recent and disturbing example of how deeply troubled some of the unsheltered homeless are.  On August 17 a MUST "Outreach Client" was arrested  and charged with Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, a Felony. Read the AJC story at:

Community Concerns Quantified

MUST moves    55 Elizabeth Church   to   1260 Cobb Pkwy

Hamilton Grove             6,540'                                3,362'

Briarfield                       6,540'                                3,362'

Cottages                       3,609'                                1,500'

Huntington Woods       4,633'                                 1,905'

Summit Village             5,586'                                 2,607'

McDonalds                   2,646'                                    287'

Fidelity Bank                2,467'                                    671'

Georgia Ballet             3,575'                                     446'


Address                       Organization       911 Incidents 12 months
55 Elizabeth Church  MUST Elizabeth Inn    394
1291 Bells Ferry        McDonald's      138
1251 Cobb Pkwy       Exxon                82
1199 Bells Ferry        Rancho Grande 61
1230 Cobb Pkwy       BP                      52
1201 Cobb Pkwy       Burger King       40
1507 Church St Ext. The Extension    35
1220 Cobb Pkwy       Fidelity Bank     26

Below is a list of Incidents called in to 911 from 55 Elizabeth Church Rd. (MUST) In all, 394 in 12 months that required 344 Cobb Police, 167 Marietta Fire engines and 43 Sheriff visits. Compare to 35 Incidents for The Extension.

Verbal Disputes/
Verbal Business Disp.
Police Related BLS-Fire
PD & BLS Response
PD & ALS Response
Zone Patrol
Ambulance only
ALS Fire Response
BLS Non-Emergency/Fire
Suicide threats
Fight, threat, disorderly, armed
Meet Civil, Committal



How about some compassion for neighborhoods?

The MUST Variance 2017-22 to build a new shelter at 1260 Cobb Parkway is the organization's 3rd planned expansion of Elizabeth Inn since 2012. It will add additional beds in a configuration more friendly to families and will also add administrative space at the new location on the east side of Cobb Parkway near Bells Ferry. It is moving ½ mile closer to neighborhoods and will be adjacent to local businesses. Why are the neighborhoods concerned? Are they just NIMBY or is there a basis for their concern?

Elizabeth Inn is a temporary, emergency shelter for those who need help in finding more stable housing, job retraining and other supportive services. They include families and women with children and to be admitted to the program they can not have substance abuse issues. They have reached out to MUST for help and they deserve a “hand up”.

There has also been an unsheltered, mostly male population in the area for years, camping in undeveloped wooded areas, who have had access to MUST's open campus lunches and other services in the daytime. In 2012, MUST expanded their Day Service program to accommodate more of these unsheltered homeless “who live in their cars, in the woods and other places. The Daily Outreach Center offers a large clothes closet, daily breads and sweets, bathrooms, showers, social services, phones, mail and computer use“(Chao, Angela, Local Churches Build New Facility for MUST Ministries, Patch, 06/08/12).

Long-time area residents report having seen an increase in the number of unsheltered homeless who gather at bus shelters, panhandle at the intersection and local restaurants and walk to the MUST campus. Some are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Data from the Homeless Report and other studies confirm that the chronic unsheltered population tends to have mental illness and/or substance abuse issues. Most of these do not want a “hand up” to get on a better path. They do like the “handouts”, however. When a group of people with dysfunctional behavior are camping in close proximity to residential neighborhoods it is a valid concern not a NIMBY attitude. GA 2015 Homeless Report:

HUD Continuum of Care Housing Inventory Count Report Georgia 2016

Even as the homeless population seems to have increased in the area near MUST, overall, the unsheltered homeless population in Georgia has declined since 2011. The GA Homeless Report 2015 estimates there are between 200-499 homeless in Cobb County and there are 101-350 beds, leaving potentially 150 unsheltered persons in Cobb. We are waiting on the Cobb 2017 Homeless PIT count to be made public.

Below is Incident data gathered from Marietta-Cobb County 911 from Elizabeth Inn and surrounding businesses for a 12 month period. Not all incidents are serious but in total, Elizabeth Inn creates a huge drain on Public Safety Departments in Marietta-Cobb and there is a spillover effect to area businesses.

Address / Organization / Number of Incidents past 12 month period
55 Elizabeth Church  MUST Elizabeth Inn  394 (160 visits Marietta Fire, 345 Cobb Police)
1291 Bells Ferry        McDonald's                138
1251 Cobb Pkwy       Exxon                           82
1199 Bells Ferry        Rancho Grande            61
1230 Cobb Pkwy       BP                                52
1201 Cobb Pkwy       Burger King                  40
1507 Church St Ext.  The Extension              35
1220 Cobb Pkwy       Fidelity Bank                26

MUST has 72 beds and opens the campus for day services after breakfast at 7:30 am until late afternoon before dinner when residents return. The Extension is “a licensed residential recovery program serving homeless men and women of Cobb County who suffer from alcohol and other addictions.” The number admitted is comparable to MUST but the program lasts 11 months and The Extension is a closed campus.

Must's 2nd expansion occurred in August 2015 when 8 beds were added.
See Patch article:

The Variance for 1260 Cobb Parkway, currently owned by Cobb EMC, will be the 3rd and largest expansion, potentially adding over 30 beds in a new two story building.

Many of the Petition signers would prefer that the Variance be denied. We feel that regardless of whether the Variance is approved or denied, the Day Services to the unsheltered homeless population should be stopped. It enables this group to remain in the area and it puts the public at risk. It places a burden on Public Safety. MUST's response to our request to restrict Day Services onsite was to contact affiliated Non-profit organizations and ask them to continue the Day Services off campus.
Simple Needs GA, like MUST, has many good programs but they also reach out to those “camping in the woods”.
Give Homeless Hope has a similar mission.

A number of Saturday events have been hosted at 1355 Bells Ferry at Orkin, very close to neighborhoods. While we understand the desire to show compassion to this group of people, we question the policy of giving the homeless tents and tarps so that they can camp comfortably on private property (trespassing). When giving them valuable items such as a new bicycle, is there any requirement for a demonstrated willingness to enter a program of job retraining or rehabilitation?

The unsheltered homeless are not simply good people down on their luck. Their issues are more complex and many have serious, untreated problems (2015 Report on Homelessness). Why would MUST or any other organization wish to enable this population to remain in close proximity to a residential area when they are not receiving any type of treatment or oversight?

How about some compassion for the neighborhoods?

The Variance will be heard by the Marietta Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday, August 28th at 6 pm at City Hall, 205 Lawrence Street NE.



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