Some residents of Flagler Circle in Cheney Woods neighborhood came before Smyrna City Council Monday to express their opposition to the expansion of Oxford Academy, a private daycare facility on Church Street.
“To put a daycare on Flagler Circle is not community development it’s residential destruction,” said Becky Roberts. “I’ve never thought of Smyrna as being a place that did not support the residents of its community.”
Oxford Academy is owned by former Ward 5 City Council Representative Jimmy Smith and his wife Cindy. The daycare is currently held in two buildings on Church Street, but the Smiths plan to renovate a rental house that they own on the corner of Church and Flagler Circle to serve as the third daycare building. Deborah Tompkins lives between the two daycare facilities on Church Street.
“With this proposition we basically remove the neighbor,” she said “There’s no neighbor. There’s no resident there. This is strictly a business use. We’ve removed the neighbor.”
Alan Aycock, the real estate consultant for some of the residents of Flagler Circle, asked that the Mayor and Council remove the language from the R-15 zoning ordinance that allows daycares in residential areas. This language was added to the R-15 zoning designation in 2006. Smith served on City Council at that time, but was absent when Council approved the amendment to the ordinance.
“We simply would like you take the R-15 ordinance, take out all the language relating to daycare out of it,” he said. “I say that as a professional that that is just not normal. It is not in any other neighboring city ordinance. It is atypical to allow that type of ordinance where you can have 50, 60, 70 kids in a residential neighborhood with no controls.”
Last week, city of Smyrna staff proposed another amendment to the ordinance that they believe clarifies the language. Aycock however, disagreed.
“We have suggested that you advertise and drop this,” he said. “We feel like the amendments that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Suddreth have suggested make no sense. Why don’t you advertise both of them and have a public meeting and a public vote at the same time and the Council can come down with a room full of people on do we support neighborhoods or do we don’t.”
Aycock also asserted that Smith has made offers on five other homes on Flagler Circle implying that he plans to further expand his business.
Don Berry, a Flagler Circle resident and one of the organizers of Concerned Citizens of Cheney Woods, questioned the legality of the original ordinance. One part of the amendment states that daycares are allowed in residential areas if they are located on a major or minor arterial.
“Church Street is a minor road by the city of Smyrna’s definition, Cobb County’s definition and the 30-year plan,” he said. “There’s an amendment now that’s being tabled in the process of changing the wording from the original amendment to include major or minor arterials as well as roads. So I’m assuming it would cover any road in the city of Smyrna. So that’s kind of troubling. It appears to be wrong for six years and now we’re going to make a quick adjustment.”
Matthew Hoffberg, another Flagler Circle resident, said a Facebook page has been made for those in opposition to the expansion.
“I know as of today—and the page was created maybe 36 hours ago—as of today, 10 people have liked it, which is essentially 10 signatures on a petition,” he said.
Smyrna’s Planning and Zoning Board will discuss the amendments to the ordinance at their July 9 meeting. Once that body has made a recommendation it will go before Smyrna City Council for a vote.
Read More About the Proposed Expansion of Oxford Academy