Branch Properties has announced that it wishes to formally withdraw its proposed plans for Jonquil Village and that they will resubmit a retail-only plan in the coming weeks, said Teri Anulewicz, Ward 3 city council member.
“The Mayor and council will need to formally accept their withdrawal – this is on the agenda for the council meeting that is scheduled for this Monday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m.” Anulewicz said in an email. “After that, we expect Branch to submit a retail-only application and community development staff will begin working with Branch on design issues. We have been explicitly clear to Branch that we cannot understate that the ultimate design of this project is extremely important, and Branch is definitely aware of the community input we have received and will continue to receive during this process. Next, the proposed plan will go to the planning commission for their review and recommendation, and finally, will be formally presented to the Council for our consideration and, ultimately, a vote.”
The original plans submitted by Branch were for a mixed-used development that included 77,000 square feet of total building area with a 45,600 square-foot grocery store and 250 apartments.
The proposal first appeared on the Smyrna city council agenda at the Jan. 17 meeting, but council members voted unanimously to table it till the Feb. 20 meeting to allow the four newly sworn-in council members time catch up to speed on the project.
At the last city council meeting held Feb. 6 several representatives from the Williams Park Neighborhood Association came forward during citizen input and asked that the proposed site plan be presented to the planning and zoning committee to allow residents more time to review the plans and share their views with city officials.
Several of the speakers also expressed concern about the apartments that had 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.”
Once city council members approve Branch’s withdrawal at Monday’s meeting, the company will take its Jonquil Village plans back to the drawing board. In her email, Anulewicz reiterated the importance of doing Jonquil Village right.
“Jonquil Village is more than a gateway site for the city of Smyrna – city staff and I agree that what happens here will likely set a standard (on many levels) for future major projects in the city,” she said. “I very much appreciate all the input we have received so far, and I hope that the dialogue continues. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. There are a lot of stakeholders and I encourage input from everyone.”