Smyrna eyes extending townhome moratorium for second time – Yahoo News

Mar. 4—On Monday, the Smyrna City Council is scheduled to vote on extending the city’s moratorium on new townhomes another six months.

What was originally supposed to be six months may soon become 18 months. The moratorium was first implemented in March 2021 for six months, then extended by council last fall until March 16 of this year. If another extension is approved Monday, the moratorium will expire Sept. 15.

Community Development Director Rusty Martin told council members at a Thursday night work session that his department needed more time to hammer out proposed changes to the city’s zoning ordinances. Staff have had other priorities, he said, such as developing a new permitting software and crafting legislation to regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnb and VRBO.

“We’ve done a lot of research. There’s not a consistent ordinance that’s been used on the national scene or even locally,” Martin said of the townhome issue. “So it’s taken a lot of research to try to find these different elements to include.”

Staff would plan to have a new zoning ordinance ready for the council’s review by July, Martin said.

The city is seeking to establish new design standards for the construction of new townhomes, as well as create a new zoning category for them.

Townhomes are currently zoned as single-family housing. Residents complained to the city that stand alone houses were being torn down and replaced with townhomes, and said townhomes needed more development and architectural standards.

At the work session, Mayor Derek Norton asked fellow council members if they had any opposition to the extension and received no reply. Former Councilman Austin Wagner voted against the original moratorium and the first extension, saying stricter standards would drive up construction costs at a time when the city needs more housing, but Wagner has since resigned.

In other business, the council will consider approving the purchase of a new Pierce aerial fire truck with a 110-foot retractable ladder for $1.18 million. The purchase would be funded by money received through the federal COVID-19 relief American Rescue Plan Act.

The council will also vote on approving a commercial building permit for the construction of a new 62-unit, four-story affordable senior housing apartment building. The apartments are restricted to people 62 and over.

The complex, Wilshire Apartments, will be built at 685 Smyrna Hill Drive. The council approved a rezoning in 2019 to allow developer Prestwick Construction to build the $9.5 million project.