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.