Citizens want Jonquil planning and zoning hearing
Half a dozen residents of the Williams Park neighborhood near Jonquil Village said they want the city to hold a planning and zoning hearing about the proposed development.
The Jonquil Plaza hearing may have been tabled till the Feb. 20 Smyrna City Council meeting, but that didn’t stop it from being Monday night’s hot topic.
Several members of the Williams Park Neighborhood Association took to the podium during citizen input, but their points were largely the same. Their neighborhood abuts the proposed Jonquil Plaza development and they’d like to see the issue brought before the planning and zoning committee to allow residents more time to review the plans and share their views with mayor and council.
“Please consider the long-term implications of this project,” said Ron Davis, a Williams Park resident. “This is a one-time opportunity to build out the heart of our city to the standards that it deserves.”
Several of the speakers expressed concern about the apartments that have been proposed for the site noting that they think apartments put more stress on public services and schools and don’t contribute to the city’s tax-base.
“It is not welcome to hear that the mayor and council are considering allowing non-owner occupied residential units to be part of the mix of commercial and residential elements for that property,” said Robyn Phillips, a Williams Park resident. “In the last year or two Smyrna has paid significant taxpayer funds to acquire and demolish apartment units that had significantly deteriorated and had contributed to a higher police presence at those properties due to elevated crime and drug trafficking.”
Lem Ward, an attorney and Williams Park resident, said he thought that proceeding without a planning and zoning hearing violated zoning procedures law.
“I’m going to presume that your city attorney has given you the appropriate advice and I’m not going to argue with you about who’s right and who’s wrong, but it appears to me that a change of sight plan is a zoning decision as defined by the zoning procedures law,” he said. “Even if I’m wrong in the law, and I don’t think that I am because the site plan which you are going to change was adopted after a public hearing that complies with zoning procedures law. I don’t believe that you would change the site plan without following that same procedure.
“Zoning procedure law states, ‘the purpose of these minimum procedures is to assure that due process is afforded to the general public when local governments regulate the use of properties through the exercise of the zoning power.’”
Keith Bentley, a member of the Williams Park Neighborhood Association, read aloud a list of features the group would like to see in the development:
-An attractive streetscape with paver sidewalks along Atlanta Road that complements the look and feel of Market Village.
-An architectural style that complements the Market Village.
-Shops that face Atlanta Road with parking behind.
-Restaurants or café space with outdoor seating areas accessible from Atlanta Road.
-Attractive landscaping including hardwood trees on Atlanta Road and Spring Road.
-A medium-size, maximum 45,000-square-foot grocery store, with special high-quality landscaping that could include a water feature at Atlanta Road similar to the fountain area at Market Village.
Bentley added that the neighborhood doesn’t want the development to be a conventional strip mall or to house a ‘big box’ store with the exception of the grocery store.
Wade Lnenicka, Ward 6 council member, agreed that Jonquil Plaza needed to go before the planning and zoning commission again.
“These people from Williams Park were spot on,” Lnenicka said. “I told the council this needs to go back before our planning and zoning committee. I didn’t know these people were coming tonight but I thought it should. I think the proposed plan is a very significant change from the originally approved plan. For that reason it should go back to the planning and zoning commission for public hearings and commission recommendations back to the council. And I hope it does. I support that. I said it before the meeting tonight.”
In other news from the meeting, the council approved 7-0 a privilege license for agent-retail package sales of beer and wine for the new RaceTrac located at 4290 East West Connector. Rachel Lynn Pearson, RaceTrac operations supervisor, said the store is tentatively set to open March 17.
During committee reports, Melleny Pritchett, Ward 1 city council member, reported that RaceTrac has accepted bids for its Spring Road store and they expect earth moving to begin in about 45 days.
Ron Fennel, Ward 7 council member, said no date has been set for the groundbreaking of Fire Station No. 5, but that he expects the structure will be completed by Labor Day.
People trying to tune in to the meeting at home were in the dark. Susan Hiott, Smyrna city clerk, explained that Charter Communications was experiencing technical difficulties on their end. The meeting was filmed, but not broadcast. It will rerun Monday, Feb. 13 on Charter Communications Public Access Channel 19.