The Willows, the planned residential unit development proposed by developer Bill Hall, was granted rezoning approval after a 7-0 vote, Tuesday, December 27, at the Pleasant View Planning Commission meeting. The approved vote allows commissioners to recommend the development to the Pleasant View Board of Mayor and Alderman, who will ultimately decide whether to approve Hall’s development.
In recent months, since the controversy of “The Willows” development emerged, commissioners have been urged to be cautious of “putting the cart before the horse” and to be sure all “ducks were in a row” before allowing an abundance of growth. City officials and residents agree there are infrastructure issues needing to be resolved but funding for improvements are minimal in the city budget. Developer David Berg voiced concerns with the lack of motivation to pursue commercial developments during public forum Tuesday. He’s presented documentation several times to city aldermen and commissioners with communities comparable to Pleasant View’s demographics that have more commercial growth and development, bringing in a sales tax revenue to facilitate supplementing for infrastructure improvements.
“People say they want to live in a bedroom community but you’re living off an interstate exit, 24 miles from downtown Nashville. You’ve had Publix knocking on your door; who wouldn’t want to shop at Publix? You were this close to having Papa Johns, moot point now, but it would’ve brought sales tax revenue. Do you realize what’s coming with the Lowe’s Distribution Center in Coopertown?” ASKED BERG.
Berg informed commissioners Coopertown was aggressive, wanting growth and development and with the Lowe’s Distribution Center being built more would come. “It was standing room only here a few weeks ago, (referring to the November 22 Planning Commission Meeting), but 97% of the community wasn’t in attendance,” Berg commented. He was confident if there’d been previous commercial growth the city would already have a sales tax revenue base to help fund improvements and infrastructure problems.
Cheatham County has had a reputation for being anti-growth, uncooperative and having more development fees than neighboring counties, suggesting this discourages developers from establishing businesses. Mayor Perry Keenan, many times has stated the city needs “good, smart growth”. He along with city officials have been reviewing and amending city ordinances and regulations, for over a year, in preparation of potential growth and developments. Keenan has stated the reason commercial developers choose not to establish in Pleasant View was because the city needs a denser residential demographic, more rooftops.
Resident Alan Armstrong addressed commissioners wanting assurance city ordinances and regulations were being followed and changes to city ordinances and regulations weren’t being made to cater to developers. Vernon Weakley, project engineer of “The Willows” presented Building Commissioner Mark Goins a revised masterplan of the development during Tuesday’s meeting, concerning Armstrong. He questioned if it was a preliminary masterplan because the one he’d viewed prior to the meeting didn’t state it was ‘preliminary’, leading him to question if it was the final masterplan. Goins stated it did not state preliminary but it was a known at this point of the consideration of the development.
“Regulations are either followed or not followed, it’s that simple,” stated Armstrong, concluding Developer Bill Hall was a ”good developer and a fine man”, he just wanted the city to uphold city ordinances and regulations.
Several homeowners residing near the proposed development, including many from West Ridge Subdivision and Town Pride, have expressed concerns of home values depreciating with rental properties nearby and worry increased traffic on Pleasant View Road would pose problems. A recent traffic study presented the service level of the roadway would not change if the planned residential unit development was built residents argue traffic would increase causing delays, crowding and challenging emergency management personnel to meet the demands in a timely manner.
Currently Pleasant View Road is 20 feet wide with little to no shoulders. The state requires newly constructed roadways be 24 feet wide with at least 8 foot shoulders, accommodating for emergency management to maneuver around stalled traffic. Since Pleasant View Road’s level of service isn’t expected to exceed the maximum demand of daily traffic, improvements wouldn’t be necessary for the development of “The Willows”. Kenny Elrod, local resident, suggested commissioners ask developers to improve roadways in the vicinity of new developments, if needed, reducing the financial burden on the city.
Shearon Armstrong, resident of Pleasant View, questioned commissioners, asking if they’d spoken with school administration, law enforcement, emergency management and city utility departments to inquire if the development would pose a burden. According to Armstrong, Pleasant View Elementary School is approximately seven students over student capacity currently. She further questioned the safety infrastructure of Pleasant View Road. Even though recent studies state level of service would not change, she challenged commissioners, asking if they thought the road could handle the increased traffic and allow the necessary means for emergency management to maneuver effectively.
Commissioner *Buddy Wright addressed many concerns explaining cities couldn’t always prepare for future growth and many couldn’t make the necessary changes or improvements until there was an overcrowding or infrastructure problem. He affirmed it was common, for municipalities to address problems when it became necessary because they were unable to prepare for unknown growth years in advance. Further emphasizing his point, he stated residential growth would help provide the necessary sales tax revenue to fund projects and infrastructure improvements. *Wright also proposed homes be built yearly in preparation for at least half of the city’s local high school graduates, if the community wanted any options for their children and grandchildren to reside in Pleasant View.
“If we aren’t at least doing that, we might as well be telling them to move away, we don’t want them here,” commented *Wright.
Newly seated Commissioner Heather Hardwick advocated the new development stating she didn’t believe the increased traffic along Pleasant View Road would pose much of a problem. Hardwick owns and operates “The Shop” hair salon at the four-way stop along Pleasant View Road and Main Street. She stated her shop window allowed her to witness the daily traffic and she was confident any increased traffic from the development wouldn’t pose an unmanageable problem.
Chair Dan Small and Commissioner Tonnie Trotter, worried about the concerns expressed by the public. Both agreed the development could be beneficial to the city and Hall had met the requirements of city regulations to request rezoning the property. Small further stated if Pleasant View Road became to overcrowded the state may help facilitate improvements. Hall’s rezone request for the preliminary masterplan received a unanimous vote, 7-0 by commissioners.
Voting on the Construction Plans for “The Willows” and amendments to Subdivision Regulations Articles I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, Appendix A and B; were deferred until next month’s meeting.
Pleasant View Planning Commission will meet for their monthly workshop on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at Pleasant View City Hall at 6:00 p.m. The public is encourage to attend.
*Note: Correction to article referenced – Comments by Buddy Wright were previously stated to be made by Jimmy West. Corrected on 1-5-17.
Previous articles on “The Willows” development can be read here: https://cheathamnews.com/willows-development/ https://cheathamnews.com/willows-lot-size-variance/.