Some Smyrna residents may be voting in new districts in the next election if a new district map proposed by city officials is approved at the state and federal levels.
The city council approved the new map after its first public hearing on Monday night. No resident spoke during the public hearing. Council members will have a second public hearing and vote on Dec. 17.
The reapportionment is necessary due to growth in the last 10 years, particularly in Ward 7, where Councilman Ron Fennel said the population now exceeds 12,000, which is 5,000 more than the populations in the city's other six districts. Under the new map, he would lose approximately 40% of his district's population.
"That means I'm going to lose well over 5,000 people," Fennel said Monday night. "That means neighborhoods that are important to me and to the city of Smyrna. While it's frustrating, it's a reality. Smyrna is growing."
The map was developed by the council collectively as a team, Fennel said.
"We're all working for the benefit of Smyrna," he said.
In fact, the cooperation and collaboration was something mentioned by most council members.
"We didn't have any infighting on the council," Councilman Wade Lnenicka. "Everyone was oriented in the same direction."
Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz said that she's heard what she calls horror stories about reapportionment from her husband, who is an attorney.
"This was a very professional and collegiate process," she said.
The only district that won't see much change is Ward 1, City Manager Eric Taylor said. Ward 2 will reunite some areas, and Ward 3 will extend farther to the south, incorporating parts of the current 4th and 5th wards. The proposed Ward 4 will move to the west, and a natural boundary created by the East-West Connector will separate it and Ward 7. And, changes to Ward 6 will see it encompassing more of the Forest Hills neighborhood.
"I'm losing a lot of friends in Forest Hills, but I'm gaining a lot of friends," said Councilman Charles Welch, who represents Ward 4.
Once approved by the council, the new district map will be sent to the state legislature and federal Justice Department for approval. It is slated to go into effect for the next election in 2015.
In other business, the council:
- Adopted the revised Personnel Policy EMP 12-0 Pay Plan;
- Voted to appropriate $40,000 from the Hotel Motel Tax Fund for The History Workshop to research the history of the Cox Civil War Collection, create display cases and install the final product;
- Removed an public hearing regarding pet grooming and boarding services from the agenda;
- And, tabled a vote on an item that would replace the Noise Regulation from the city's Code of Ordinances.