Panel rejects rezoning for prefab home
By RICK LAVENDER - The Times

Industrialized homes builder Grant Smereczynsky either suffered another setback or strengthened his case to finish one of the factory-made homes in Waters Edge subdivision Tuesday night.

Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board voted 4-2, enough of a majority to seal a recommendation to City Council, to deny Smereczynsky's request to rezone the Waters Edge Drive lot from residential-1 to residential-2.

The co-owner of Building Systems Network in Gaines-ville said later he thought he had a chance, despite staff calling his application spot zoning and about 40 neighbors turning out in opposition.

But Smereczynsky attorney George Butler suggested that the denial and the likelihood of the same before City Council on May 2 bolsters their side.

"Certainly, it moves the ball forward," Butler said. "We have to give the city the opportunity to do the right thing."

Neighbors think the city has since revoking permits for the home in midconstruction last March. Permits for a similar home in the Lake Lanier subdivision off McEver Road also were pull-ed.

Gainesville has repeatedly won in court. A suit filed by Smereczynsky is before the state Court of Appeals.

City code restricts industrialized homes, which are built in factories and assembled on site, to multifamily (residential-2), agricultural-residential and residential-office districts. Smereczynsky's argu- ment, backed by the state Department of Community Affairs, is that stance violates state law.

During the meeting at the Georgia Mountains Center, Linda Youngblood of Waters Edge asked if zoning the lot for multifamily sets a precedent.

"It would open a door," said Danny Dunagan, board chairman.

Afterward, Youngblood questioned the quality of industrialized homes and the possibility that one nearby will shrink her home's value.

"We appreciate the board supporting the people who already have homes in the subdivision," she said.

Butler had pitched the request as simply allowing completion of the home.

Yet, board member Chris Jones motioned to deny, saying later that approving a residential-2 lot in a residential-1 subdivision with many tracts undeveloped will "give people ammunition when they come in front of us" with similar requests.

Smereczynsky has said the built-for-sale home appraises at $369,000.

A mortgage dealer spoke in his favor Tuesday.

David Jones of the Waters Edge homeowners association said the neighborhood agreed with the planning staff.

He also said Butler's assertion that his client is willing to meet with homeowners was a first, and that a letter Smereczynsky's wife sent some neighbors was inflammatory.

The letter criticized opponents, said they had damaged her family and children, and hoped God held them responsible.

Smereczynsky said his wife had tried to work with some neighbors. "We didn't have a very warm reception to even talk."

He had said in February he had no doubt the zoning request will be turned down, honing issues he faces in pending citations concerning the home.

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