Letter to the Editor: We must push back to protect county’s rural lands

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To the editor, 

“A new year can often be seen as a clean slate.”  

This 19th century expression came from the use of slate boards in schools. I recently watched the film “Anne With an E,” an adaption of “Anne of Green Gables,” which depicts a time when children carried their slate boards to one-room schoolhouses.  

The book, written in the late 19th century, became a classic for all ages in the mid-20th century. It still teaches many lessons that transcend time. 

Williamson County once had one-room schoolhouses and children walked to school through woods and fields and on covered bridges to attend them. There was a covered bridge over the Harpeth River on the Old Natchez Trace years ago near a schoolhouse. The Ash Grove historic maker stands there now.  

The scenic tapestry of Williamson County’s landscapes is painted with historic and culturally significant places. In 2020, we, the residents of Williamson County, have the opportunity to speak up for what is left of the historic and scenic beauty of the unincorporated parts of the county. We must encourage our county commissioners to vote for the upcoming version of the comprehensive land use plan being presented soon. It will call for one house per 5 acres instead of the current one house per 1 acre. The planning department is calling this the “town and country” option vs. the current “business as usual” one now in place.  

At a recent budget committee meeting of the County Commission, Mayor Rogers Anderson told commissioners that growth should primarily stay inside the urban growth boundaries. These areas are the extended regions around the six cities in the county. Urban growth should be contained within those boundaries, but that is not what is happening. Growth is sprawling out into the county without the necessary infrastructure.  

He told commissioners that several public meetings and surveys have been conducted, and residents in the unincorporated parts of the county have voiced their strong support to preserve the open rural character of their communities. The mayor said he hopes the new Williamson 2040 plan (Williamson2040.org) will reinforce the urban growth boundaries as the appropriate areas for development. He went on to state that the county must find ways to slow growth, because the measures the county has taken to keep up with growth, such as the education impact fee, are not enough.  

For decades now, residents have been urging the county to adopt measures to slow the out-of-control growth consuming the county. I know that since the ’90s, I have been saying that growth doesn’t pay for itself, taxpayers pay for it. Residents are finally realizing that we must speak up for what we all love and cherish in our beautiful county.  

It was the residents in “Anne of Green Gables” who encouraged great changes for the better, and we must do so, too. Our quality of life and inventory of scenic, historic and culturally significant places depend on us doing so.  

On this new year’s slate, we need to write that the Williamson County Commission adopted the “town and country” land use choice so we can preserve and protect what is left for future generations to enjoy and prosper.

Laura Turner 

Citizens for Old Natchez Trace 

Franklin

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