Smyrna may issue six-month moratorium on townhomes

Townhome elevationsConceptual elevation of Atlanta Road townhomes (from the City of Smyrna)

Even amid the economic turmoil of the last year, the housing industry has remained stable and even flourished due to a number of factors including favorable policies from the Fed. That’s especially true in Smyrna where, according to Redfin, the median home value has risen 20% year-over-year and now stands at $345,000.

But developers hoping to rezone property to build townhomes in Smyrna may soon have to wait. Mayor Derek Norton has proposed a six-month moratorium on townhome rezonings which could be approved by March 15.

“[This will] give us some time to study design standards and maybe put it in a separate zoning category,” Norton said at last Monday’s city council meeting. “We’ve had a lot of rezoning requests for townhomes lately. I think that’ll give us a chance to catch our breath and make sure that we do things right going forward.”

Norton added that any change wouldn’t affect any townhomes “currently in the pipeline,” and that the city council will discuss the moratorium at its March 1 meeting before potentially holding a vote two weeks later.

During the same meeting, the council tabled a rezoning for a 10-unit townhome development on one acre at 3302 Atlanta Road, across from Campbell Middle School. The development, owned by Edgeline LLC, was unanimously approved by Smyrna’s planning and zoning board in August but has since been tabled seven times and has yet to receive a formal vote from the city council.

In a committee meeting on Feb. 11, several city council members expressed concerns about the project, highlighting a lack of connectivity to neighboring townhome developments and concerns about how vehicles would turn around once inside the complex.

“I still have some open questions about accessibility,” said city councilman Tim Gould. “I’d love to see more interconnectivity between the neighboring properties. The units look awesome but it’s a tight piece of property and I’m concerned about creating something that will cause problems down the road.”

Gould said he’d spoken to the development’s attorney, Garvis Sams, but hadn’t received clear answers to his questions. Norton expressed frustration with the situation as well, and the rezoning was tabled the following Monday. The issue highlights the factors council members have to weigh when deciding whether or not to approve townhomes.

While the Atlanta Road project won’t be affected by any moratorium, the council may develop a clearer process for what it’s seeking in townhome developments in the future during the moratorium, streamlining the process of scrutinizing new townhomes in a local housing market that appears to be getting hotter by the day.

Haisten Willis is a freelance writer who lives in Smyrna with his wife, daughter and dog. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from California State University, Fresno, serves on the board of SPJ Georgia and even rides a bike when time allows.