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County denies Tuckers development
Jun 05, 2006 12:00 am
May 20, 2006 – Citing a need to first restructure Wilson County's zoning ordinance, county planners rejected a rezoning request for some 1,400 acres in the Tuckers Crossroads community for the development of an "active adult" community and golf course.
Cookeville-based Hall Investments L.P. had sought to have the property – located at the intersection of Bluebird and Bobo roads – rezoned from A-1 (agricultural) to R-2 (moderate-density residential). The company ultimately hopes to broker a deal on the property with Pulte Homes, which intends to develop a 2,500-home, age-restricted "active adult" community.
Representing Hall Investments, Nashville Realtor Greg Mabey explained Friday he worked closely with Pulte Homes – which oversees the development of active adult communities nationwide under the Del Webb and Sun City brands – over the past year.
"I've worked on this project trying to decide how we would develop this property. I've been contacted by theme-park owners, mobile home manufacturers, private investors and out-of-state developers … that have shown an interest in purchasing the property for development," Mabey said, adding none of the inquiries represented the "right path" for the property.
"We needed to partner up with a large developer that had more experience, expertise, manpower, womanpower, capital and a proven track record in developing properties of this scale," he continued, noting his search led him to Pulte Homes – now the "contract purchaser" of the 1,397-acre property.
Under its current agricultural designation, the property could accommodate nearly 1,200 homes. The requested rezoning to R-2 would have cleared the way for a 2,500-home, master planned community.
And while some in the rural East Wilson community endorsed the development, noting it would bring improved infrastructure and potable water to the Tuckers Crossroads area, many of those who live near the Hall Investments property expressed concerns regarding increased traffic counts and other infrastructure-related needs.
"I'm not saying this is the worst thing that could come into Tuckers Crossroads, but it's a drastic change. Even 2,500 houses would be a drastic change to our community," Jack Pratt Jr., a lifelong resident of the community, said as he distributed pictures of some narrow roadways surrounding the property.
Pratt and neighbor Perry Neal also said the rezoning might signal the start of a large-scale residential development wave the likes of which East Wilson County has yet to see.
"At Providence, we see a growth that we've never seen before," nearby resident Cindy Brown said of a 3,200-home residential development in Mt. Juliet. "I just hope we get our ducks in a row before (development moves eastward)."
Ultimately, Wilson County Planner Tom Brashear told planning commissioners, the county is not completely prepared to grant approval on such a large-scale project in the vicinity of Tuckers Crossroads.
Brashear, like many planning commission members, agreed the master planned, 2,500-home active adult community would benefit the area. However, with a planned unit development (PUD) provision still absent from the county's zoning ordinance, Brashear explained he had no "mechanism" to ensure developers followed through with the master plan submitted to his office.
If the rezoning were approved and Pulte Homes ultimately decided not to develop the property, R-2 zoning would allow for the development of 4,500 lots at the site.
"The conceptual plan is a fairly nice plan from my perspective, and I'm certainly not calling out Pulte Homes or Mr. Mabey or Hall Investments as dishonorable people … but the fact of the matter is – because the county doesn't have their PUD in place right now – there are, in my opinion, several significant infrastructure needs in the area," Brashear said, explaining a PUD would allow county officials greater oversight of the development.
Planning commissioner John Jewell said he approved of plans for the new development, referring to them as "cutting edge." However, he conceded he was concerned by the absence of a PUD provision in the zoning ordinance.
Brashear explained a PUD provision had been presented to the Wilson County Commission on at least three occasions but has been repeatedly referred back to the county Planning Commission.
"The PUD, as I see it, is necessary for … proper development to take place," Jewell said. " … Even good development has to be managed and controlled."
Following Brashear's recommendation, planning commissioners voted to deny the rezoning request but noted they expect to see plans for the project again once county commissioners incorporate a PUD provision into the county's zoning ordinance.
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.