Brentwood will continue to be what it has become — a unique city, predicted Jeff Dobson, Brentwood city planner.
A uniqueness determined 50 years ago when it was incorporated and maintained by city leaders at a standard set by the late Joe Sweeney, city commissioner from 1972 until 2011 when he said, “Brentwood must strive for total excellence in every endeavor and never settle for second best.”
The result is a high quality standard of living defined by a sense of community, amenities like the parks, library and open space and a feeling of safety, said City Manager Kirk Bednar.
Planning and excellent use of the public’s money is also a big part of maintaining Sweeney’s “total excellence” challenge.
“We do more with less staff compared to other cities,” Bednar said. “We try to be strategic where we do spend and understand we can’t be everything.”
The city is known for its one-acre per dwelling residential density standard originally determined by septic and sewer capabilities but continued for density control, property values and aesthetics.
The secret is managing the urban growth boundaries of residential and commercial development. The city’s footprint hasn’t changed much. It incorporated 40,000 square miles and is now 42,000 square miles. Currently the 6 percent of that area is zoned commercial and located on the northern and southern borders. The 87 percent zoned residential is located in between. The only exceptions are the Concord Market, on the corner of Concord Road and Wilson Pike and the Franklin Market on Franklin Road. Both businesses opened long before incorporation and were grandfathered into the zoning laws, said Dobson.
Service, a more recent zone, includes parks, churches and nonprofit institutions and is seven percent of the area.
“That change [in zoning] came about because of the acquisition of parks such as the 360-acre Smith Park,” Dobson said.
Sewer and water continue to dictate urban growth boundaries.
Sewer capabilities were designed to handle the current planned growth and “We want to make sure we maintain those capabilities without annexation,” Dobson said.
Brentwood has annexed about two square acres since incorporation.
Considering the list of subdivisions under construction and on the planning table and available vacant lots, “we have bout a five year supply of residential building lots,” Dobson said. “After that, growth will come in the form of renovation or tear down [of existing buildings] and rebuild. Residential and commercial development will occur by buying older homes and rennovating.”
That’s already occurring in residential areas and commercial zones at Maryland Farms, the Hill Center and the City Center.
“We’re still a bedroom community and we want to limit commercial development to the north and south,” said Bednar. “No commercial spread gives the feeling of a bedroom community but now more people are living and working in Brentwood with corporate and other upper level businesses coming here.”
Dobson sees an increase of assisted living facilities on the horizon, but not senior living 55 and older communities. At an average cost of $350,000 to $650,000 per lot, land is simply too expensive to build smaller homes, he said.
Sewer and water supplies won’t handle a zoning change to more smaller lots, but most important - the community won’t approve an increase in density, according to Dobson and Bednar.
“The vision has never really changed,” Bednar said.
Traffic will continue to be a constant. Williamson County is the only county withe an equal number of people traveling north and south to work, “and they all pass through Brentwood,” Bednar said.