Board debates merits of 'mixed economic development' in Franklin

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President of Gamble Design Collaborative Greg Gamble refers to plans for the Southbrooke PUD in southwest Franklin after a meeting on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

A planned subdivision in southwest Franklin is moving forward after Tuesday evening’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

City leaders voted to annex several pieces of property along Lewisburg Pike around Stream Valley Boulevard, just south of the Goose Creek Bypass, for the 749-unit Southbrooke neighborhood on 318 acres of land.

City staff initially disapproved of the plan, though the Franklin Planning Commission voted affirmatively for the neighborhood. Alderman Ann Petersen was one of two dissenting votes at a planning commission meeting last month.

The disagreement is due to almost half of the lots being smaller than required by Envision Franklin, the city’s development guide.

Assistant Director of Planning and Sustainability Kelly Dannenfelser said city staff recommended lots meet Envision Franklin’s minimum of 45 feet in width, though some lots in the plan were as narrow as 34 feet. 

City Administrator Eric Stuckey said other plans had been approved by the board that allowed narrower lot sizes, though this was the largest such proposed project to date.

Aldermen had mixed reactions to staying within the strict confines of Envision Franklin as it pertained to the residential lot sizes. 

“If we go to 34-foot lots now, everybody that comes in is going to want that many or more,” said Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin, who suggested the board stick with the set standards. 

Alderman Pearl Bransford said she wouldn’t be opposed to the 34-foot lots, as long as they didn’t comprise the whole neighborhood.

“I don’t know that I’m locked into a 45-foot lot,” agreed Alderman Clyde Barnhill.

Dannenfelser said city staff could look into changing the recommended lot sizes, as Envision Franklin isn’t a static document.

Williamson County Commissioner Betsy Hester, who represents that region, has been a Green Valley resident along Lewisburg Pike for many years. She asked the board to consider the already heavy traffic in the region.

“There will be gridlock, there’s no doubt about it, if these are added before there are four lanes on Lewisburg Pike,” she said. “It’s a death trap at rush hour, folks. Getting on and off [Interstate] 840, it’s horrible.”

Hester also asked the board to consider the added burden on schools when thinking of new residents. 

The motion passed unanimously on the consent agenda.

Southbrooke subdivision details 

Developer Greg Gamble explained the neighborhood would be a conservation subdivision, with 100 to 125 acres dedicated for a public city park. 

Most of the subdivision will be situated to the west of Lewisburg Pike, with some lots to the east. Condominiums, duplexes and big houses will be priced from $280,000 to $1 million.

The project will also include the addition of dedicated turn lanes to five intersections along Lewisburg Pike and a stoplight added to the intersection of Stream Valley Boulevard and Lewisburg.

Proximity to Berry Farms

“We believe that neighborhoods that have mixed economy use are more sustainable long term,” Gamble said.

He also noted Berry Farms’ layout: 3.8 million square feet is dedicated to commercial space, with only about 25% of the commercial buildout complete.

“We know we’re going to continue to see employment increase in the Berry Farms area,” Gamble said, noting the need for more housing in that part of the city. “If we don’t provide homes in this price point, people will be forced to live in Spring Hill or further.”

Mayor Ken Moore brought up the recurring question of affordable housing in the city.

“I think the thing that concerns me most is, so many times we’re brought projects with the promise that they’re going to be affordable, and we have no way of checking that,” he said, calling the lack of affordable housing proposals “terribly frustrating” to the board. 

Gamble agreed his firm would need to do some more research into the issue as the project moves forward.

(2) comments

Bob Marsh

34 foot lots! you gotta be kidding me. Who are these goof balls ? This whole planning scam is just a dog and pony show.


"dog and pony show", pretty much the definition for the political world.

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