Smyrna Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance Monday night that will amend the zoning in Smyrna to permit a Planning Village Community as a conditional use in residential districts.
The change will now allow for council to have more control over the design and look of a housing development in Smyrna. A Planned Village Community will be permitted as a conditional use in residential districts R-1, R-1A, R-2, R-2A, and R-3.
The ordinance states a Planned Village Community is a "subdivision with at least four parcels consisting of detached, single-family dwellings that are placed close to the street, have small front yards with landscaping that ensures adequate separation and protection from street activities, and have architectural façade treatments that create an aesthetically pleasing, livable community."
A public hearing on the ordinance was held prior to Monday's council meeting.
Town Manager Dave Hugg said that the ordinance had already been reviewed by the Planning & Zoning Commission, who was recommending it for approval by council.
"It's also been developed in cooperation with a couple of developers who have expressed interest in this kind of development opportunity," Hugg said.
Councilman Jeff Flairty asked Manager of Planning & Zoning Janet Vinc quite of bit of questions regarding the change and what it does for the town.
"It's more of a pedestrian scale neighborhood in that the houses are set closer to the street with the landscaping that encourages walkability, interactions among neighbors," Vinc said.
Some members of council, including Councilwoman Regina Brown, were concerned with the possible impact in density the communities would have on the town. However, it was noted by a few council members, including Councilman Jeff Flairty, that the communities would be similar to the houses on South Street in town. DeFeo pointed it out that the communities would be representative of the homes in downtown.
"It's respective of your neighborhood of where are live right now," DeFeo said. "This is what makes our town so nice. We want to increase that."
Hugg pointed out that with the design requirements of the amendment that the town would no longer have the basic housing developments the town has now.
Flairty asked what types of assurances the town would have the village community is actually going to make the area a more pleasant and attractive place to live.
Vinc said right now under the subdivision regulations, there are no requirements for design standards; therefore, the town is stuck with what developers submit unless a developer is willing to do more.
"With this, the assurance is that the town will oversee what the buildings, what the lots are going to look like," Vinc said.
Under the new regulations, developers will have to go through the Planning & Zoning Commission and then get approval from town council. Vinc said then the plans will be part of a checklist that goes through the planning department to make sure it's done right.
Councilwoman Valerie White said she doesn't mind this type of community because it's not the planned townhomes and bigger apartments that were planned for when she first got on council.
Because of the density concerns, Police Chief Wil Bordley was asked if he had an issue with the change. He said no and actually agreed with the idea of getting away from the cookie cutter housing developments.
Flairty said when he lived in Florida, a lot of times he saw people living in developments and not become part of the community.
"I hope they spend more time downtown walking around, going to our municipal parks, things like that," Flairty said. "That's one of the great things about Smyrna is that it is a great community."
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.