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Safety talks slow Windover progress
Jun 26, 2006 12:00 am
June 19, 2006 – The Wilson County Planning Commission deferred approval of the preliminary plat for the Windover subdivision Friday at the request of attorney Jere McCulloch, who represents owner Dale McCulloch.
However, McCulloch's request came after a heated exchange between Frank Fly, a Murfreesboro attorney representing 61 homeowners from the Percy Priest Lake area, a presentation by Middle Tennessee State University geologist Mark Quarles and the views of several area homeowners.
Located at Alvin Sperry Road and Guill Road, the preliminary layout of the 346.95-acre subdivision indicated 454 lots, the maximum allowed under the Residential One (R1) zoning ordinance for cluster developments.
However, members of the West Wilson Homeowners Association would like to see the number reduced to 350 lots to reduce area traffic for safety reasons, as well as potential school overcrowding. Additionally, the homeowners expressed concern about runoff and sewage.
Listed as the fourth item on the commission's agenda, the meeting heated up after Planning Director Tom Brashear gave his staff remarks to the commission, saying in essence there was no reason for the commission not to approve the preliminary plat.
"The plat meets preliminary regulations," Brashear said. "Some block lengths exceed limits due to ridge lines, and there are some circular roads set in (off the main roads). Roads (Commission) doesn't have objections, and there is no impediment to emergency vehicles."
Brashear said the comprehensive drainage plans would continue to be monitored from "now and going forward." He said the developer had tried to "figure lots to take in consideration of runoff" and creating an adequate buffer.
The development also includes a trail system to "cut down on erosion" and has formed a homeowner association because it is a cluster development, Brashear said. Regarding the sewage system, the subdivision would be served by a step system and connect with the Pine Creek Golf Course.
After Brashear presented his report, McCulloch told the voting body the developer had made an "effort to look at the slope and streams, and stay off (of those)."
Then Fly addressed the commission, asking for a deferment "if the road commission has not approved the preliminary plat."
"We have had preliminary discussions with the road commission and they feel it will work," Brashear said.
Fly said approving the preliminary plat would violate the commission's own rules, citing section 4-13-78: "No preliminary plat shall be considered by the Planning Commission unless and until the Road Commission notes on the plat its conditional approval of the proposed road construction as complying with the Road Commission Construction Specifications and Standards."
Road Superintendent Steve Armistead spoke up after Fly finished, saying, "We have never signed off at (the) preliminary plat stage."
"So you never honored or abided by the subdivision regulations of the Wilson County Planning Commission," Fly responded. "These are rules, and they are published so people interested in your procedures can read them and understand them. I come here and found out they haven't been followed. (I was) simply reading your rules."
Armstead said the road commission follows the state's "rules and regulations."
"The state supercedes county regulations," Commission Chair Vicki Fitzpatrick responded. "Also, the second part (of section 4-13-78) does not say 'preliminary plat.'"
"It had already been identified," Fly remarked.
"We can't tell the state what to do," Fitzpatrick said.
"You don't abide by your own rules and regulations," Fly came back. "We request the hearing be postponed due to not following your own rules and regulations."
At this point, Commissioner John Jewell spoke up and said, "Legal counsel for this body could be used by phone."
A motion was then made and passed moving the item to the end of the agenda so the commission's legal counsel could be contacted.
Roughly 30 minutes later, the item was again picked up by the commission for consideration. At this point, geologist Mark Quarles gave a presentation he had prepared at the request of the West Wilson Homeowners Association.
"The homeowners have asked this be a responsible development, that lot sizes be considered with current lots, which are from one acre to small farms, that there be responsible road construction and proper waste disposal methods," Quarles said.
"The topical maps says it's OK for development," Quarles said. "However, that is not true due to the number of sinkholes."
He also noted if no development is done within 25 feet of a sinkhole, then the number of lots drop to 350.
Quarles said an MTSU professor went into a cave on the property, and while he "didn't go far into the cave," he found enough information that it would be "conducive to an endangered species." What species, Quarles did not say.
"Much of it (the land) has less than 20 inches of soil and very hollow bedrock," Quarles said.
Also, Quarles said plans does not indicate the design and control methods for runoff during or after development.
"There is only one detention pond for the entire acreage, and it cannot contain all the runoff," which will go to "adjacent property owners and into the creek," he said.
Regarding the disposal of waste, Quarles said the station at Pine Creek Golf Course is permitted for only 50,000 gallons per day, while the amount that would come from the subdivision would be 160,000 per day. In addition, Quarles said, the construction of the step system and lines to Pine Creek would cost approximately $1.6 million, which he said the taxpayers would have to pay and would involve condemning area land?
"Why go (five) miles and condemn land when Mt. Juliet is two miles away and Davidson County a mile away?" Quarles asked.
"Sewer construction is totally development based," Brashear said. "Mt. Juliet does not have a history of providing (sewer service) outside of the city limits, and Davidson County no longer provides service outside the county.
"The sewage system would be developer based and (Wilson County Water and) Wastewater Authority dollars. It is not tax-based, unless the Water Authority receives money from the county," Brashear explained.
"Mt. Juliet's Bobby Franklin (director of planning) said they would gladly entertain the possibility as of (Thursday)," Quarles said.
"That has not been the elected officials' position," Brashear said.
"We ask there be responsible consideration to all these issues. We want this to be in a responsible manner. Smith-Regan needs to go back to work," Quarles said, referring to Regan-Smith Associates of Nashville, the engineering and landscape master planning agency who developed the preliminary plans.
Following Quarles, several homeowners took the microphone to express their views. None of those who spoke said they opposed the development, but rather that the developer take into consideration the area surrounding it.
Nancy Rowland, who lives close to the development site, told the commission the homeowners "know we can't stop it," but asked that it be made "more compatible to the area."
Gary Unger, a resident on Quill Road, said his home of eight years is "my dream home and property."
"I'm not against the subdivision coming in. I feel like it will increase property values," he said.
However, Unger made it clear to the commission that he had no intention of granting permission for an easement on his property for a sewage line.
"My answer is a resounding no, and I want it on record before this body that I will not allow anyone on my property for a sewer line," Unger said.
Unger also expressed concern about the 60-mile loop of road around Percy Priest Lake.
"It can be hazardous with the boat traffic coming to the lake," Unger said. "My fear is without any more improvement on Quill Road, someone will be killed."
Herschel Morrisette, who said he has lived in the area for 28 years, also expressed concerns about safety on area roads, specifically Adams Lane, which he said "is our only outlet. It doesn't work.
"There are no shoulders and two or three bad curves and a hill," Morrisette said. "(Traffic) has gotten worse every year."
Morrisette also voice concerned about the school system, which is "already overcrowded. "Providence (Marketplace) is still growing," Morrisette continued. "We're 10 years behind in our schools now. Take the time and look at all these issues and make the right decision on this.
"We asked the developer for one acre lots. We're looking for some help here and are looking to you people," Morrisette said.
West Kirkland said he moved his family to the area from Davidson County some six years ago after looking for five years at counties surrounding Nashville.
"We kept coming back to Wilson County because of the sense of community and the strong school system," Kirkland said.
"Four hundred homes takes away what we want to share. We want to welcome them to the community, but we want it to be responsible," he said.
After Macett spoke, McCulloch addressed the commission saying, "On behalf of David McCulloch, I ask for a deferral due to the technical issues. We look forward to responding to these issues. If the board will see fit to defer, we will respond to it next month."
Brashear agreed with the recommendation.
"I'd like to remind everyone this is a preliminary plat," Brashear said. "Our process here has worked and will continue to work."
Fly then stood, and said, "What has been called a technicality," but was cut short by commissioner Jewell.
"We are aware that it is all about the quality of life," Jewell said. "We deal with quality of life every day. I am extremely irritated at your shortness. This is not a court of law."
Following Jewell's comments, the meeting adjourned quickly.
Managing Editor Amelia Morrison Hipps can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at email@example.com.