(GALLOWAY) While Smithville residents are concerned about the disruption to their quality of life by proposed new development, some have questioned if then-Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola used his influence to get a zoning change for his property.
In 2017, the Planning Board unanimously voted to amend the Towne of Smithville Planned Unit Development (PUD) to allow for both commercial and residential development on a plot of land at the corner of Route 9 and Moss Mill Road owned by now-Mayor Coppola. Coppola and his company, Towne of Historic Smithville LLC, own the Smithville Inn, Fred and Ethel’s Tavern, and that entire side of the Towne of Historic Smithville.
According to property tax records, the land was valued at $1.4 million. An appraisal expert commented that the zoning change could increase the value of the land by as much as 30%, which could net Coppola an additional $420,000 in value.
The proposal presented before the Planning Board would include a 62-room two-story hotel, a 40-room 2.5 story assisted living facility, a 48-unit townhome development, and a gas station and convenience store.
Several Smithville residents voiced their concerns at the Planning Board meeting, citing increased traffic and litter that may be generated. Another resident asked if this change in the PUD could result in the entire project being residential housing, placing extra burden on our school district and increasing taxes.
“It is gonna be fun,” Coppola said when interviewed by The Galloway Current on this topic.