The Smyrna City Council voted 5-0 Monday to rezone 47 acres of property as the future construction site of a proposed 194 single-family home development.
Councilwoman Andrea Blustein and Mayor Max Bacon were absent, leaving Mayor Pro-Tem Melleny Pritchett to run the meeting, which is why Pritchett didn’t vote.
The city issued more than $15 million in bonds to purchase and raze the 728-unit Hickory Lakes apartment complex in 2010.
Now, Vinings-based Southeast Capital Companies, a residential developer, is expected to buy the property for about $14 million, said Eric Taylor, the city’s administrator. Taylor said he did not know the expected closing date, however.
Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz said two Smyrna residents spoke in favor of the proposal at Monday’s meeting, and she agrees with their support.
“I’m thrilled,” Anulewicz said. “I think it’s going to be a very positive thing for that street, that corner and for north Smyrna.”
The homes will begin in the $350,000 range, Taylor said. Each house is proposed to be about 2,000 square feet, with about five homes on each acre.
According to the plans, a homeowners association will maintain the common areas within the development, and it will also have a detention pond to reduce the chances of flooding during a major weather event.
Because the city has spent more than $15 million on the property and plans to sell it for almost $14 million, it’s likely the city will lose money on the sale.
Councilman Wade Lnenicka was the only dissenter in the vote to purchase the property in 2010, but he voted in favor of the development Monday because he said it’s the only way to recoup the money that has already been lost on the property.
“There’s still some unknown factors that make it impossible at this time to determine what the net loss will be to the citizens on the sale,” Lnenicka said. “But, I saw my duty as being to get the highest and best price for the city on the property, and the development will do that.”
Anulewicz said she doesn’t dispute the monetary loss, but she thinks the development will rejuvenate the city in a way that money can’t buy.
“One thing that’s important to think about the price is you have to think about things that are a little harder to quantify,” Anulewicz said. “There are effects that go far beyond what the city invested.”
The councilwoman added the new homes will increase the value of homes surrounding the property as well, acting as a “renaissance” for the area.
Lnenicka said the new development will bring other new developments to the area.
“We hope it stimulates construction in that area in the future,” Lnenicka said. “The saying is ‘retail follows rooftops,’ meaning the retail stores will follow when people live in an area. So, the more we can do to get residential development into an area, the more that can naturally stimulate commercial growth.”
Anulewicz said the area around Windy Hill Road was in need of an investment.
“This will be the first big development in that area in 40 years,” she said.
Before the site was zoned for the single-family homes, there was talk among the council that a grocery store or manufacturing plant could move in. Anulewicz said she was opposed to the idea and is glad the area has been kept residential.
“People had suggested maybe a manufacturing plant,” Anulewicz said. “I do not think it would be right to try to say to a bunch of residents who live on the borders of that property (on Windy Hill Road) that we’re going to change it and make it an industrial area.”
Susan Thayer, who won the Republican primary in the race for the Post 2 seat on the Cobb Board of Education, said she thinks the development will be good for local schools.
“I think single-family homes allow for less transiency than apartment complexes in schools, so I think that’s a good thing for our community,” Thayer said. “Our community is growing. I think that’s a good sign.”