Smyrna to developer: No merit to lawsuit
by Nikki Wiley
January 22, 2014 12:00 AM | 2349 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — The Smyrna City Council approved a resolution Tuesday telling a developer it doesn’t have a case in a lawsuit against the city.

Branch Capital Partners filed an appeal in Cobb Superior Court against Smyrna following the contentious December denial of its proposed 288-unit apartment complex containing 25,000 square feet of retail space.

The development was intended for the corner of Atlanta Road and Spring Street where Jonquil Plaza once stood.

It was a 4-3 vote Dec. 2 that stopped Branch’s development in its tracks. Following hours of public comment and discussion among council members, Council members Ron Fennel, Melleny Pritchett and Teri Anulewicz voted in favor of the project.

Council members Wade Lnenicka, Andrea Blustein, Charles Welch and Susan Wilkinson voted against the development.

The proposed development sparked the interest of Smyrna residents with hundreds turning out to a public hearing. Many were opposed to the development because they said it contained too many apartments and too little retail space.

But city officials take exception to the lawsuit because they say the city owns a portion of the property Branch was seeking to develop. They argue that they can’t be sued for deciding what to do with their own property.

“Some of this property, two parcels, are owned by the city. This resolution clarifies that neither Branch nor (land owner) T&C (Land) have the authority to act on behalf of the city,” said Eric Taylor, city administrator.

In 2006, a $181 million mixed-use development was planned for the site in question including 20,000 square feet of office space, 160,000 square feet of retail space, 300 luxury condominiums and an underground parking deck. The property changed hands several times since the first proposal.

Garvis Sams, an attorney for Branch, previously told the MDJ the city’s denial of a site plan amendment that would have allowed the project to move forward was done in violation of his client’s constitutional rights. That’s because under the current zoning, Sams said, a developer is required to follow the original plans that called for a project more than four times the size of Branch’s development.

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