History of Chimney Springs

Chimney Springs:  a Great Place to Live
 
In 1973 development of Chimney Springs Subdivision was begun by Arvida of Georgia, Inc. (“Arvida”).  Arvida was a subsidiary of Arvida Corporation, the owner of numerous properties in Florida, including the 5-star Boca Raton Hotel and Club, and Sawgrass Resort.  At that time Johnson Ferry and Upper Roswell Road (Hwy. 120) only had 2 lanes.  In 1975 Ralph and Carolyn Cordaro became the first homeowners in Chimney Springs and still reside here. In 1976 construction of the pool, 4 unlit tennis courts and the mini park on Three Springs Court was completed by Arvida.  That same year it completed construction of the sales office which later became the clubhouse and acquired from Westinghouse Electric Corporation what was known as the Walden Lane section of Chimney Springs. That added about 100 lots to Chimney Springs.  With that addition Arvida constructed 4 additional unlit tennis courts and the Old Orchard Trail and Oak Lane mini parks.  It also added beach, volley ball and picnic areas adjacent to the lake along with a basketball court.  In 1979 Arvida sold 24+ acres to the Cobb County Board of Education for the construction of Tritt Elementary School.
 
The HOA voice was heard at school board meetings particularly in establishing attendance zones.  The elementary school children initially attended Murdock Elementary School, then Mt. Bethel Elementary School and finally the new Tritt Elementary School.  The middle schoolers initially attended Dodgen Middle School, then Mabry Middle School and finally the new Hightower Middle School. The high schoolers initially attended Walton High School, then Lassiter High School and finally the new Pope High School.
 
August 1975, First Home in Chimney Springs, on Eagle Ridge Rd
People swimming, a boat and dock at the Chimney Springs lake
 
 
Original Logo Rendering
Original Logo Rendering
 
Our Iconic Chimney
 
Chimney Springs was the fastest growing community in metro Atlanta from 1975 through the early 1980’s and subsequently was recognized by the AJC as the best metro Atlanta community and by the Urban Land Institute as one of the top 25 communities in the United States and Canada.  The original residents’ voices were heard by Arvida and they became involved in the management of the common properties.  In 1980 Arvida completed the deeding of the common properties to the Chimney Springs Homeowners Association, Inc. (“HOA”) and relinquished control of the HOA to the residents. Ralph Cordaro, George Phillips and Danny Bailey, 3 of the 5 original Directors, still live in Chimney Springs.  This was a smooth transition due to the early involvement of the original residents in the HOA.  However, one very important issue remained open.  Arvida had been separately taxed for the lots and common properties that it owned, even though the added value of the common properties had been included in the lot assessments.  Arvida had previously appealed the common properties assessment to the Superior Court of Cobb County arguing this was double taxation.  Arvida agreed to continue this appeal and pay all its costs and the HOA agreed to continue to participate until a final ruling.  In 1982 the court ruled in favor of Arvida and the HOA establishing a precedent that common properties owned by a homeowners’ association which required mandatory membership could not be separately taxed since the added value of the common property was a part of the individual homeowner’s assessment. 
 
The post Arvida era has seen numerous improvements to the common areas by the HOA.  All the tennis courts have been lighted.  The basketball court and playground were moved and updated.  The walking paths were extended and repaved.  The old wooden bridge across the head rights of the lake was replaced with a stone and concrete bridge that accommodates many a fisherman.  There have been major updates and additions to the pool and tennis court complexes along with major renovations of the clubhouse. Management of Chimney Springs Lake has been a continuing and costly priority of the HOA.  Lakebed silt dramatically increased with upstream development.  The first major dredging was in 1988.  Erosion of its banks became a major problem in the 1990s.  A special meeting was held by the HOA for the membership to authorize the HOA to form a task force to come up with a solution.  Engineering studies were done and a solution was recommended.  Residents were informed of the solution and added the term “gabion basket” to their vocabulary.  That project was completed in 1999.  The dredging and silt removal still continues as a part of the lake maintenance.
 
In 1982 the Chimney Springs became one of first neighborhoods in Cobb County to implement Neighborhood Watch.  It was recognized on numerous occasions by the Cobb County Police Department as the model program. The HOA community action committee has been at the forefront in staying abreast of zonings, infrastructure maintenance and road improvements.  It saw the safety need for sidewalks and due to their efforts, our walkers especially the Tritt School students, can safely walk in Chimney Springs, although it is puzzling to see people walking on the streets when sidewalks are available.  
A watershed moment for Chimney Springs came in 2004.  A lawsuit had been filed by the HOA against a Chimney Springs resident for enforcement the Chimney Springs Declaration of Covenants, Restrictions and Easements (“Declaration”).  The resident countered that since the Declaration was filed of record on February 5, 1975, and Georgia law was restrictive covenants expire 20 years from the date of filing, no cause of action existed.  The HOA countered that the Declaration provided that after the initial 20 year period it would automatically renew for successive periods of 10 years unless a resolution approved by 2/3 vote of its members was filed terminating the Declaration.  When Arvida filed the Declaration in 1975 the provision for automatic renewal was a first for Georgia.  The court ruled that the automatic renewal was enforceable.
 
Another watershed moment for Chimney Springs came prior to the development of East Spring Lake Subdivision. The developer requested from Cobb County approval to extend Old Orchard Trail for ingress and egress to its proposed subdivision.  That would have dramatically increased the traffic on Old Orchard Trail, Ravenoaks Place, Walden Lane, Pond Lane and Chimney Springs Drive.  At a hearing before the Cobb County Commission, the developer consented to the HOA’s request and revised its development plan to exclude the extension of Old Orchard Trail.
 
We live in a great neighborhood.  It is great because of its residents both present and past.  I predict when they open the time capsule in 2065 it will still be a great place to live.
 
Danny Bailey
 
 
 
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