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Mayor Calls Resident's Comments 'Confrontational'

Betty Williams is upset about the proposed reapportionment map.

A public hearing regarding the City of Smyrna's proposed new districts turned into what Mayor Max Bacon called confrontational on Monday night.

Betty Williams, who lives on Terrapin Road in the Rose Garden neighborhood, addressed the council to tell them how concerned she is that all low-income housing and apartments in the area are being combined into Ward 2.

"People move in and out," Williams said. "I don't know how you can count anything. That's not right. If you can't do any better, leave us how we are. You say you want to put us together but you're doing it the wrong way."

The council voted on Monday night to table a final vote on the new map to allow for more time to discuss it with residents of the Rose Garden and Davenport Town neighborhoods.

Currently, the two neighborhoods are split between Wards 2 and 3. Since 2000, the city council's goal has been to reunite the neighborhoods into one ward, Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz said.

"We had no idea there was a preference as to what ward (you wanted to be in)," Anulewicz said. "We can move some of it back, but we can't move it all."

Bacon said he has better things to do than to use a road map to make sure low-income homes are grouped together, as he said Williams was accusing him of doing.

"I don't really know where you get your numbers about low-income this," Bacon said. "I in no way wanted this to be confrontational, but I'm put back. I'm disappointed, Betty."

The city enlisted the help of someone from the outside to create the new maps, which Bacon said shows that the maps weren't politically-driven.

"That was never really the issue," he said. "We wanted to make sure we did it legally right. There are no shenanigans going on."

The reapportionment is necessary due to growth in the last 10 years, particularly in Ward 7, where Councilman Ron Fennel said the population now exceeds 12,000, which is 5,000 more than the populations in the city's other six districts. Under the new map, he would lose approximately 40 percent of his district's population. 

The only district that won't see much change is Ward 1, City Manager Eric Taylor said. Ward 2 will reunite some areas, and Ward 3 will extend farther to the south, incorporating parts of the current 4th and 5th wards. The proposed Ward 4 will move to the west, and a natural boundary created by the Silver Comet Trail and the East-West Connector will separate it and Ward 7. And, changes to Ward 6 will see it encompassing more of the Forest Hills neighborhood.

Councilman Wade Lnenicka said that tabling the vote was the right thing to do so that council members have time to talk to more residents.

"That's what it's all about," Lnenicka said. "We're here to serve the citizens. I'll simply support whatever the neighborhood wants me to do. I don't have a dog in this fight."

A final vote on the new map is slated for the council's meeting on Feb. 4.

Also on Monday night, the council approved a new noise ordinance, which city officials said is more enforceable than the city's prior ordinance. Bacon said that, under the previous ordinance, the noise from the city's fountain and even the sound of a normal conversation are violations.

"That makes no walking around sense," the mayor said.

The new ordinance includes revamped decibel levels and also includes a separate category for multi-use districts with its own decibel levels.

"Smyrna's not a real noisy town," Bacon said. "Ninety-eight to 99 percent of the noise issues, they're resolved."

Lnenicka said the new ordinance is an improvement.

"I'm not 100 percent convinced it's how I would write every single detail, but I hear the council saying if we try it and it (doesn't work), it's not etched in stone."

In other business, the council:

  • Tabled a public hearing on a zoning amendment for the modification of the approved site plan and building elevations for a property at the East-West Connector and South Cobb Drive;
  • Approved an incentive agreement between the city of Smyrna and UCB, which has its North American headquarters in Smyrna;
  • Voted to extend a contract with NAI Brannen Goddard until Dec. 31, 2013;
  • Approved a renewal with the Georgia Municipal Association for 2013 Worker's Compensation Insurance coverage;
  • Approved a bid for an Ultraviolet Disinfection System for Wolfe Pool to Aquatic Consulting & Equipment at a cost of $17,120;
  • Voted to allow the use of the council chambers for the annual Laurel Hill Homeowner's Association Meeting;
  • Voted to change the name of the Riviera Apartments to Pine Hill Apartments;
  • And appointed Joan Stuart, and reappointed Susan Levy and Jane Ferguson to four-year terms on the Hospital Authority Board. 
Observer December 18, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Confrontational? The only one who is gets confrontational is St. Bacon, whose motives are never to be questioned by mere mortals. How dare these uppity citizens believe they have a right to question elected officials.
30080 December 18, 2012 at 01:41 PM
No shenanigans Mayor Bacon? How about utter disdain and disrepect you show your citizens? Remember THEY sign your paycheck!
Lissa M. December 18, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Why wouldn't they want to have their neighborhoods together for maximum voting power? Then they would be able to elect someone who can be a voice for their concerns? Someone who resides in Rose Garden is clearly not going to have the same issues as someone who lives in Vinings Glen, for example.
R. Anderson December 18, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Into the late '60s Smyrna was segregated. That's why Rose Garden Hills and Davenport exist. De jure segregation may no longer exist but de facto segregation is still here. NAACP needs to be contacted. But most importantly the mayor (and I repeat the mayor) needs to sit down and have a talk with these residents. Maybe he could actually salvage his 20+ year rein of unruliness. Side note to the mayor. Citizens voicing frustration and concern is not confrontation. You should've learned that in Mayor 101. You should also have learned in Mayor 101 that you talk to the citizens of your city. That's your job and what you get paid for.
Lissa M. December 18, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Rose Garden Hills and Davenport were not in the City of Smyrna in the late 60's, but a part of Cobb County. We have friends in the Rose Garden neighborhood who live their, just as their parents did & enjoy it. When they no longer want to live there, they will move. What does that have to do with the NAACP or Max Bacon???
R. Anderson December 18, 2012 at 10:50 PM
"In 1953, one of the first African-American, middle-class neighborhoods in Georgia was built at Rose Garden off of Spring Road." Source: History of Smyrna Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Society
Bruce December 18, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Hey folks, Cobb County Commissioner Ott did not put up with the reapportionment as first put forth a few months ago. The reapportionments are appealed and re-re-appealed all the time. Best thing is to table it and look over the maps with a strong magnifying glass and look for shennanigans. Good for the CONFRONTATIONAL citizen. Good for the city concilman for wanting to table it.
Bruce December 18, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Hey, another thing. In Douglas County one of the school board members wanted the new reapportionment map to be changed because he is white and there would have been too many blacks in his area who "would not vote for him." He wanted the map changed. Unfortunately for the school board member, this was captured on audio tape. It has been released and a blog for the Douglasville Patch was done by James Bell. Go to Douglasville Patch and type in James Bell on the blog site and look for this story earlier this year, I think. You'll find it. It is the blog about the Douglasville school board. This is what really happens all the time. OK citizens of Smyrna, here is the dirty little truth of politics. Darn straight the map can be changed!
Brian December 19, 2012 at 06:16 AM
It doesn't make sense that a few areas near the intersection E/W connector and S. Cobb Drive, including Lois Point, are in area 6. These ares are much more geographically and historically connected to the newer developments along E/W near the silver comet trail extension and Camp Highland. We need these areas to be in district 7 to have a singular voice and planning. In fact, I think this area should be part of a future overlay district. I know in the past these were district 6, but they should be moved to district 7. Population-wise, it won't make much of a difference. There isn't much density in Lois Point and adjoining areas. But in terms of commonality, it'll make a huge difference. I also don't like the idea of those commercial areas being in a different district.
Brian December 19, 2012 at 06:56 AM
This is extremely off-topic SPAM for the city of Smyrna. We're not Douglasville.
Bruce December 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Brian, there is nothing off-topic or SPAM about government manipulation by politicians in any county or any state or any country. I'm pointing out how things work.
Brian December 23, 2012 at 06:59 AM
I'd really rather us stick to what happens in Smyrna, based on fact, not speculation.
Brian December 23, 2012 at 07:03 AM
By the way, for everyone that has something negative about the government, note that I sent an email to discuss one aspect of the redistricting with Ron Fennel and Wade Lnenicka they were both informative and clear,and very helpful. This seems to contradict peoples' opinions about the way the city treats feedback. Additionally, delaying the decision seems to also be respectful in my opinion.

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