P&Z meeting

Joey Smith, developer of Villages at Falls Creek off Champion Way, explains reasons the local planning commission should permit four duplexes in a single-family area of the subdivision. Nearly two dozen subdivision residents, to the left of Smith, opposed the move.

news-graphic photo by: Dan Adkins

The Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission voted Thursday to postpone consideration of the developer’s request to allow duplexes to be built in a single-family home section of Villages of Falls Creek subdivision.

The action — a five-to-one vote — came after more than two hours of wrangling between developers Doug Smith and his son, Joey Smith, and residents of the subdivision.

“I would not have bought this house if I knew there was going to be an apartment complex next to me, [or] duplexes behind me,” said Robert Newton, who bought his home at 108 Woods Point Circle in early 2016.

Newton expressed the sentiments of several residents of the subdivision off Champion Way near Royal Spring Middle and Anne Mason Elementary schools.

But Joey Smith said the proposal to build four duplexes in an area currently designated for single-family homes was justified by changing market conditions.

And he tried to salve current owners’ concerns about the possible impact of the proposed duplexes on their property values.

“I went over the property values before. Some people are going to say it’s going to affect property values, and I respect that thought.

“But I have studied it for the last 10 years, and I have seen that the addition of multi-family units — this is important — in traditional neighborhood designs… does not affect property values,” he insisted.

“Property values in traditional neighborhood developments escalate twice as fast as normal developments. There’s many articles written about it,” he said.

Joey Smith also related the history of the Village of Falls Creek: how he and his father began with a vision built on new-style subdivisions in Florida, how the 2008 recession stalled the project and how they stuck with it.

“We wanted to do something special, something Georgetown had never seen before,” he said.

But the project’s design, which includes alleyways allowing entry into homes’ garages, ran up against potential buyers’ expectations.

“People want backyards. Alleyways don’t give you backyards,” he said.

“These lots can’t sit here forever as they are. If we do sell to the fellow who wants to build front-loading garages, the folks out there are going to be disappointed that that’s the way it went,” he added.

“I’m not using this as an ultimatum, but we as developers paying interest every month, we have to make a change in something,” he said.

“It’s only for four units on one street,” he said, arguing against a recommendation that the developers prepare a new master plan for the commission to consider with residents’ input.

Jack Givens, a former University of Kentucky basketball standout, agreed with Newton that he bought his house in the subdivision based on the existing master plan.

“I understand when plans don’t go right. We all have big dreams,” Givens said.

“But we shouldn’t be punished because their dream didn’t work. That’s not our responsibility,” Givens said.

The discussion became heated when another Scott County developer, Mark Smith, no relation to Doug or Joey Smith, criticized the sidewalks and a currently closed apartment complex on the south side of Villages of Falls Creek.

“It’s a derelict structure that’s not completed… It sits immediately adjacent to my $3 million investment,” Mark Smith said.

Joey Smith, who with his father is contending in a lawsuit with Mark Smith, said the apartment complex — which was part of the original master plan for the subdivision — “has taken a lot longer than we expected… We’re now on the last leg.”

He then accused Mark Smith of repeatedly filing complaints with the city-county code enforcement agency against him and his father.

Doug Smith described Villages of Falls Creek as “a different kind of product.”

He also said the subdivision was made marketable in the mid-2000s in part because of its proximity to the then-new Anne Mason and Royal Spring schools — a feature lost when the Scott County School District offered open enrollment, reducing the neighborhood-school attractiveness.

He then turned his ire on Mark Smith, whom he described as “the illustrious candidate for county judge-executive.”

He accused Mark Smith of dumping raw sewage from another development, prompting Mark Smith to ask commission attorney Charlie Perkins whether Doug Smith’s comments were germane to the Villages of Falls Creek request.

“We really do need to stay on the subject matter,” Perkins ruled.

The commission then voted to postpone action on the proposal to allow Doug and Joey Smith time to prepare a revision of the master plan.

Voting for the postponement were commission Vice Chair Mark Sulski, Regina Mizell, Steve Smith, Jeff Caldwell and Billy Cannon. Frank Wiseman was opposed. Chair Rob Jones recused himself from the discussion. Byron Moran was absent.

In other action, consideration of the proposed Betty Yancey Griffith Trust development just north of Anne Mason Elementary School was postponed at the applicant’s request.

The commission’s staff had found a variety of problems and discrepancies in the proposal submitted to the agency and planned to recommend its consideration be postponed until the issues were corrected.

Dan Adkins can be reached at dadkins@news-graphic.com.