Smyrna Town Council unanimously approved Monday to temporarily hold off demolition of a vacant property on Smyrna-Clayton Boulevard due to a possible sale of the building.
Council had approved at the March 4 council meeting to demolish the buildings at 431-437 Smyrna-Clayton Boulevard. However, shortly thereafter the town was approached by local businessman Michael Sparco, of Ducts Unlimited. The business is a sheet metal company; Sparco has a location at 339 W. Mount Vernon St.
Sparco asked council Monday night to reconsider the demolition of the building so he could buy it from the owner and rehabilitate it for his own business. He said it would benefit the town because not only would they not have to pay for the demolition of the building, but someone else would upgrade a neighborhood eyesore.
"It's a win-win for the town, a win-win for the owner, a win-in for me," Sparco said.
Concern from residents
Some residents voiced their frustrations earlier in public forum over the town possibly reconsidering their previous vote on the demolition.
Ken Boulden, owner of Penn Vernon apartments across from the property, said he was in support of the town demolishing the building and was already told that the town was moving forward in dealing with the rundown building.
"I'm here to ask you to honor that decision," Boulden said.
Smyrna resident Cindy Cogar asked council how they could approve demolition one week and reconsider at their next council meeting.
Town Lawyer Barrett Edwards said council is free to change their decision.
"But I thought the town said they tried, tried and tried to contact the owner of the property and decided to move forward with the demolition," Cogar said.
Edwards said new developments had arisen since the last council meeting; Sparco's interest in the property was the new development.
Questions from council
Several council members had questions regarding the possible change in direction. One of the main questions had to do with a possible timeline of the work to the building, should Sparco eventually purchase the property from the owner.
Councilwoman Valerie White said there should be a strict guideline for Sparco moving forward with the project. Councilwoman Joanne Masten agreed.
"I don't want to hear you're buying the property and it'll be finished June 1st but then January 1st we're hearing about it again," Masten said.
Councilman Anthony DeFeo asked if Sparco had a plan for the property. Then Councilman Jeff Flairty cut in to tell Sparco that while council has several questions, they just want to make sure if they go in this direction that Sparco's going to follow through.
Sparco said he understood there was some history with the property, but his 14 properties elsewhere in the area including Middletown, Odessa, and Smyrna shows his company takes this seriously.
Since there were some concerned residents at the meeting, White eventually addressed their concerns again. White said that while she did previously vote to demolish the building, she was glad someone came forward asking to purchase the property. Otherwise the burden of the demolition, which would've cost over $40,000, would've been on the backs of the taxpayers.
"I'd like to see the town manager work with Sparco on the logistics," White said.
After further discussion, council agreed to put off demolition of the property for 60 days to give Sparco enough time to get everything together to purchase and renovate the property. However, the motion came with the stipulation that if significant progress isn't made within 60 days, the town can demolish the building.
Some questioned the motion because putting the demolition off 60 days went against council's urgency to address the issue.
"This doesn't have to take 60 days," Edwards said. "We could be back in two weeks finalizing everything. This is just a window."
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