This is part three of a story on a new residential project, to be located in Franklin behind Gentry Farm, that has been proposed. The project requires annexation of the former Pewitt Farm property off Old Charlotte Pike East and is projected to include 157 homes, townhouses and a connector road. Check out a driving tour of Old Charlotte Pike E made by Dewight Lanham above.
Parts 1 & 2:
Today’s story covers what the City of Franklin will consider before annexing the land.
Development is fast becoming a four-letter word. There has been so much growth in the last 10 years in Middle Tennessee, especially the last five years, that it can make anyone’s head spin like a cartoon character. What people may not know is that the City of Franklin began putting down a plan for growth back in 2004, and what sprung from years of study was officially adopted in 2017 as Envision Franklin.
Unplanned growth becomes urban sprawl, which is not healthy or sustainable. But planned growth can mitigate many of the issues created by urban sprawl. However, planning is not fast or easy. There are many things to consider in the process, including ever-changing laws.
While contemplating the proposal for the development of the Stewart Campbell Jr. Legacy Trust property on Old Charlotte Pike East, the Franklin Board of Mayor and Alderman will be looking at many issues, which include what is outlined in Envision Franklin, as well as insuring that Franklin remains a desirable place to live, work, and educate children. Here are three of the most significant items that the city is researching before making any decisions.
Having Holisitic Communities
Franklin has a long history of planning for growth to ensure that the city remains desirable over the long term. When considering a new development, the city looks at many different aspects. These aspects include parks, greenways and open spaces; cost savings, environmental sustainability, and increasing the quality of life; and historical preservation.
“We want to create a vibrant place to live that provides a diverse range of housing types that supports growth,” said Franklin Assistant City Administrator Vernon Gerth. “Where people can educate their children, live, work and feel safe.”
This kind of development doesn’t come without collaboration. It requires significant strategic planning that has to take into account land use, affordability of public services, and utility access. For that reason, documents like Envision Franklin are created. Envision Franklin is a framework, much like a grading metric, that allows the city to decide if a proposal put before the Board hits all of the marks. Yet, things change. So, while the Envision Franklin document is a guideline, it is not static.
“An annexation feasibility study for urban growth areas includes looking into development potential, access roads, hills, flood plains, utilities, and services like fire stations,” added Gerth.
The whole picture must be seen clearly before a decision can be made, as well as research into long range effects, which can often mean working with state officials to determine viability.
Ensuring Viable Infrastructure
Part of creating a holistic plan for growth includes plunging into current and potential infrastructure. Putting in new roads, sewers, electric and telephone lines, emergency services, police protection, and education are expensive.
Kelly Dannenfelser, Assistant Director of Planning and Sustainability, explains that developers can’t afford to put in all of the infrastructure, so land proposed for annexation must be near current services. The Campbell property would not even have been looked at until the Mack Hatcher extension, new sewer lines, and the new fire station. Still, there are constraints.
One of the main issues has been the proposed access road through the Gentry Farm. According to state law, nonconsensual annexation is no longer allowed. A property can only be annexed with written approval by the property owner or referendum, however, if the property is farmland, then it is only possible with written approval of the owner.
Supporting Economic Growth
Businesses hire people who bring their families with them when they move for a job. The City of Franklin wants to make sure that they have the lifestyle, housing, and services available that draw quality businesses.
“Annexation is property owner driven,” said Dannenfelser. “If a property owner wishes to develop their land, we can direct staff to help facilitate a development plan, but it is virtually impossible to make plans to develop land if it is not sustainable.”
On Tuesday, September 22, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in Franklin reviewed the infrastructure options for the land northwest of Franklin that includes the Campbell property. One of the options suggested to help move the decision forward was the creation of a small area plan which would include the defining of preferred land use, and necessary infrastructure to make development possible, including an updated transportation and roadway plan. In the end, there was a unanimous vote to defer the resolution until the October 27, 2020 meeting pending more assessment of choices.
Economic growth done well brings higher incomes, better education, improved government finances, increased life expectancy, and reduced poverty. More public sector investment in service and infrastructure, in turn draws more private investment, which creates more jobs, facilitates the development of better schools, and brings with it a higher level of cultural activities.
Franklin city government is constantly looking at new land use trends, lifestyle changes, and improvements in infrastructure and utilities management.
“When land use planning is considered,” said Gerth, “a lot of our work is about educating the public about how space grows.”