As the Mack Hatcher Parkway extension nears completion, those who live in northwest Franklin are beginning to grapple with the new development it will bring.
On Wednesday night, family members who own Gentry Farms and their neighbors attended a meeting to hear how developers plan to buffer a new residential neighborhood into the pastoral character of Old Charlotte Pike.
Named Old Charlotte Hamlet, the property is located just north of Old Charlotte Pike, west of the new Mack Hatcher extension and behind Gentry’s Farm to the east.
The property was purchased by the Stewart Campbell Jr. Legacy Trust in 2017 for $2.9 million.
CPS Land is the developer and also the creator of the Franklin Green and Witherspoon neighborhoods. Currently in the urban growth boundary, developers are seeking an annexation of the property at 841 Old Charlotte Pike into city limits.
Greg Gamble, president of Gamble Design Collaborative who represented the developer, gave a presentation on the project and answered questions.
Spread across nearly 60 acres, the Hamlet meets the city’s guidelines for a conservation subdivision, with 50% of the land to be used as open space.
“The landscape is critical to creating the character of this community,” Gamble said.
The neighborhood would feature 157 homes, including houses, townhomes and five farmsteads — home sites with land for a shed, barn or senior suite — Gamble said. The farmstead units would have the capacity to have some animals like horses and chickens, but not pigs or cattle.
The neighborhood will also include a front lawn, playground, swimming pool and other open space.
Some questioned whether the project would change the nature of Old Charlotte Pike, identified by the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County as a heritage road.
“We want to be respectful of that,” Gamble said, though he mentioned some road improvements would be inevitable.
“We don’t get anything but the short end of the stick.”
The major concern at the last meeting about the property in February was the suggestion of a road that would cut through Gentry’s Farm, proposed in the city’s own planning documents.
After the board nixed that idea, the new plan proposed a future road which would wiggle north through Ingram family-owned property.
Gamble pointed out that the major thoroughfare plan is a guideline which plans for a connector road from the north to the south.
Neither the city nor the developer have plans to develop the collector road beyond the proposed new neighborhood boundary. But the road is required to be constructed concurrent with new developments as they arise in the future, Gamble said.
“I’m not sure why it has to be built at all,” District 7 County Commissioner Tom Tunnicliffe said of the proposal. “It’s disruptive to a lot of things for the benefit of way too many homes in a dense area.”
Gamble said the city has noted the area for increased development in the future, given the new intersection of Mack Hatcher into the area. A traffic analysis and mitigation resources will be devoted to future development.
“[That part of the county] is special to me; I don’t want to see it altered in any way, shape, or form,” Tunnicliffe said, sharing memories of his children at Gentry’s pumpkin patch. “The development in that area has gotten out of hand. It’s got to end at some point. I know this meets the county’s new town and country plan at some point, but no plan is perfect.”
Scott Gentry, one of Coach Jimmy Gentry’s sons, complained of the way the city and developers have approached projects in the past.
“It seems like we find out about stuff last,” he said. “We’re obviously against it. The Shorts (another adjacent property owner) and us have been through it for development. We don’t get anything but the short end of the stick.”
Gentry admitted some of the resentment towards this development has to do with the lack of communication the family previously received about the massive Westhaven development across Highway 96 West from their farm.
“We’d like to turn over a new leaf and have a transparent conversation with you, if you’re open to it,” Gamble said.
The project will go before the Franklin planning commission on Sept. 24.