Some residents voice concerns, but Smyrna council approves zoning for new daycare center

site of daycare center -- from City of Smyrna

With Smyrna becoming one of the hotter real estate markets in Georgia, it’s perhaps no surprise a rezoning request for a daycare center appeared on the city council’s agenda Monday night.

However, some nearby residents weren’t thrilled about the idea.

The council unanimously approved rezoning for a 12,350-square-foot daycare center and a 4,000-square-foot retail building at 4390 South Cobb Drive, a 1.9-acre lot. The property, near South Cobb Drive’s intersection with Cooper Lake Road, had been rezoned previously for another development but instead sat vacant for a decade due to the Great Recession.

Blastoff Construction Inc. is the company that requested the rezoning. Ellen Smith, a  lawyer with Holt, Nay, Zatcoff & Wasserman LLP who spoke on the company’s behalf, said South Cobb Drive sees 38,300 vehicles per day and the center will add about 200, less than half a percent increase. It will have a maximum of 169 children enrolled.

“This is essentially a down zoning,” said Smith. “We’re seeking a density that’s about 15 percent less than what was approved in 2007.”

But several residents from nearby Ivy Glen Court voiced concerns during public comment, mostly about traffic, safety and noise.

“We are concerned that here could be a minimum of 169 dropoffs in the morning and evening at peak hours of traffic congestion,” said resident Jonnie Hanks. “We are concerned for our safety getting in and out of our community during peak hours as well as at other times of the day.”

“We don’t want to play Frogger, especially with children,” added Leigh Hodes, another local resident.

However, city councilman Doug Stoner pointed out that traffic alone is not a consideration for rezonings, and said because South Cobb Drive is a state highway it’s under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“We can’t say no to a rezoning just because of traffic,” said Stoner. “We hear you, but at the same time we have limits to what we can say yes and no to, and obviously we are dealing with a state highway.”

The center will be required to construct an eight-foot privacy fence to provide separation from residents along with a landscaping buffer.

Council members also focused on the positive — Smyrna is attracting young couples and families increasing the demand for daycare.

“The City of Smyrna’s average age has been declining,” said councilman Ron Fennel. “We are enticing more and more young families and they are reproducing and bringing more Smyrnans.”

Jessica Ludolph, the lone resident speaking in favor of the rezoning, said she’s a parent with young children and that there are waiting lists for all of the local daycare centers.

“When I was pregnant I could not find a quality daycare in Smyrna. I was on five waitlists and I did not get a spot for two years,” said Ludolph. “I have many neighbors and friends with young children or who are pregnant and they cannot find a daycare. I am excited and would welcome a new quality daycare.”

The council approved the rezoning 7-0.

Here’s an interactive map of the location:

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About the Author

Haisten Willis
Haisten Willis
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.