It’s the first Monday of the month and that means there’s a Smyrna City Council meeting tonight. The meeting doesn’t get underway until 7:30 p.m., but one agenda item has already garnered attention.
Tonight the Council will decide whether to support the Downtown Development Authority’s potential purchase of six lots at the intersection of Concord Road and Dunton Street for $250,000. This resolution would also allow for the demolition of the partially completed structure at the site. If passed, the money to make the purchase and complete the demolition will come from the general fund contingency line. Currently the general fund contingency budget is $750,000 with no expenditures to date.
The history of the property is a story you’ve heard before. A developer began constructing a building on the property before the recession hit Metro Atlanta. The property was foreclosed on and is now held by State Bank and Trust. Construction came to a hault and the structure became what Ward 4 Councilman Charles "Corkey" Welch called “an eyesore.”
Welch said that in 2011 a developer came before Smyrna City Council to enquire about rezoning the property so that he could build a liquor store on the site. Eric Taylor, Smyrna's city administrator, said Smyrna's community development department expressed to the prospective buyer that the city was unwilling to change its alcohol ordinance regarding the property. The property is currently zoned to allow the sale of beer and wine, but not distilled spirits.
Taylor then suggested that the Downtown Development Authority make an offer on the property. The property was listed for $400,000, but Taylor suggested the DDA offer $250,000, Welch said. The offer was accepted, but on the condition that the deal close in two weeks.
“That was the bonus I guess for the seller of the property and we agreed to do it within 14 days,” Welch said. “Agreement was reached a week ago, Friday a week ago (Feb. 24). But within the 14-day-period from the time that he accepted—a week to 10 days ago that the offer went through and he accepted.”
Welch said city officials have discussed turning the lot into a park, but no official plans for the site have been made at this time. Once the property is purchased the city will pay to have the rusted frame demolished and recycled, he said. He also noted that this property was not part of the 2005 SPLOST Concord Road improvement project.
A small group of Smyrna citizens have criticized city officials in the past for using tax dollars to purchase properties that have become problematic to the city. Welch, however, said he considers this part of his duty as a councilman.
“I have to look at it from a standpoint that we were all elected to represent the best interests of the citizens of Smyrna,” he said. “I think even with Hickory Lake apartments and this parcel we’re doing just that. It’s a very good price on the property. Hickory Lakes we bought before my time, but I think it was purchased for safety reasons. Our police force spent so much time over there that we felt like it was a dangerous situation for the people living there.
“But I think the basis of it is that we feel like we’re working for the best interest of the city. That property has been an eyesore two years. If we can take it and do something positive with it that benefits citizens, I think we’re well justified in doing so.”
Taylor agreed calling the arrangement "a great deal."
"It's six lots for $250,000 and we're removing an eyesore," he said.
The Council will decide tonight whether to approve the purchase.
Other items on the agenda include the approval of an agreement making Croy Engineering the project manager for . because some members had more questions.
Tammi Sadler, assistant city administrator, outlined the duties of project manager before the last meeting.
“Making sure that the architect is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, the construction manager, Catamount, making sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing or subcontractors that they use,” she said. “For example Catamount any invoices that they have, the architect, those all go through Croy Engineering.”
Deputy Fire Chief Roy Acree said that when fire stations were constructed in the past he and Fire Chief Jason Lanyon held this role.
“Basically Chief Lanyon and myself we didn’t oversee construction, we were the day-to-day,” he said. “We were the customers in other words like within a typical builder/owner relationship.”
The Council will also vote whether to approve a contract with Piedmont Geotechnical Consultants Inc. for construction materials testing and inspection services at Fire Station No. 5.
Other items include an amendment to the city’s planning and development code regarding an economic incentive program, changes to personnel policy regarding sick leave and annual leave, approval of the restated defined master draft plan and an addition to city property’s maintenance code regarding multi-family inspections.
The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be watched live on TV19, the Cobb County government access channel