Citizens continue to protest a $1-billion development in Williamson and Davidson Counties that was to be voted on last week. Save Stephens Valley and its supporters got a small victory, or at least a reprieve, on Thursday night.

At a Williamson County Planning Commission meeting on last Thursday night, Rochford Realty & Construction, the developer of a potential 850-acre, 1400 home subdivision plan, asked for any vote on the plan to be pushed to April.

Discussion at the meeting centered around traffic. Specifically the idea of making Rochford, as part of the project’s passage, widen Sneed Road to four lanes and, theoretically, ameliorate traffic. As the plan stood at the meeting, Rochford will build Sneed Road out when the project is near completion, which the commission seemed to find way too late.

John Lackey, Commission Chairman, said he was not comfortable with the timing to defer widening Sneed Road to four lanes. Again, the plan proposed by Rochford would not call for this until the entire development is near completion, almost twenty years out. Mr. Lackey said his perception is that four lane capability would be needed long before then. He asked Mr. Rochford to propose “on the spot” an updated trigger point or number of dwellings that would trigger the widening.

The Rochford team, uncomfortable with confidently revising its Sneed Road plan “on the fly,” asked for a deferral of the vote on the plan until the April 14 Planning Commission meeting.

Traffic Only Part of Concern

For Laura Turner of Citizens for Old Natchez Trace and Save Stephens Valley and her fellow concerned citizens, were grateful that this density would posed serious traffic troubles.

Barb Sturgeon, Commissioner for the 8th District who lives in Laurelbrooke, described it well:

“I’ve heard people say this mega development can cause a traffic tsunami that we’re all going to get tangled up in,” Sturgeon said. “I live in Laurelbrooke, and I have to get out onto Sneed in the morning, and I think the ‘tsunami’ is already here. It’s hard for me to understand how you can put four lanes of Sneed into two lanes of Hillsboro and have it not get worse”.

Hillsboro is a state road and no matter what speed improvements are done to Sneed, bottlenecks will still occur due to the flow limitations of one lane each way on Hillsboro. That point resonated well with the Commission.

The last thing anyone wants is another Westhaven situation, said Turner. The developer will agree to anything to get its plan passed and then it never gets done-or the taxpayers end up paying for it, if it does at all, said Turner.

Residents of Westhaven, which started construction in 2001, are still waiting for the other half of the Mack Hatcher circle that developers agreed to help get done, she said.

But this is about more than just traffic.

Turner’s group, which has been protesting at major intersections along the area (such as Sneed Road and Temple Road), was happy to get one more month to get its message out.

That message, of course, is that this development does not fit in the northwest part of Williamson County. The rich inventory of historic, scenic, culturally significant and environmentally sensitive resources on this rural landscape located in this area needs protection from mega density.

While careful to stress that she is not anti-development, just anti-this development because it is simply in the wrong place.  Commissioner Jack Walton questioned the developer about how he plans to get all these people to the interstate.

“We are not against growth, but about growth with preservation and the recognition of history. I think Mr. Rochford is under the mistaken impression that once this plan is approved that we will just fold our tents and go away. There is a ground swell of citizen residents concerned who stand to lose everything that is precious to us here. And Williamson County needs to protect some of its history. We have a town and country lifestyle. We are the country part. This plan needs a serious reduction in density.”

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  1. Don’t back down residents and keep the fight going! We’ve got the same thing here in Southern California with developers trying to avoid spending money for infrastructure and planning commissions and city councils that are letting them get away with it. A developer spent 10.5 million dollars to fight a citizens initiative that got enough signatures to be on the ballot in Carlsbad CA. They wanted to develop a shopping center in a sensitive habitat and everyone rose up and defeated the developer when the votes were counted. Start getting signatures for a ballot initiative and let the residents use their votes to defeat this development. It can be done!

  2. I moved out to this area 40 years ago, built a house on a couple of acres like a lot of people out here. Meant to be a peaceful, secluded oasis from the city. It has steadily gotten worse and worse with cluster homes, condos, not so great shopping centers, fast food and ridiculous traffic coming from I do not know where. It’s noisy with crazy, speeding drivers and we don’t need any more added to the problem. This Stephens Valley plan is beyond outrageous, insane!! The roads, utilities are still stuck in the 1950s back there! I dread the mess and chaos it’s going to cause trying to rebuild the roads and everything else to catch up with this century, the assisted living place has been atrocious (dunno how the heck that happened to slip by everyone around here?!) but it’s nothing compared to what’s going to happen with this development!! It’s one of the few peaceful, serene natural areas. So disappointing, I talked to the owners years ago and they swore they’d never sell, guess it’s their children. Urban sprawl and hyper-gentrification is out of control in Nashville, Franklin, cool springs and even starting in Brentwood. None of these areas are equipped to deal traffic wise with the drastic changes this is creating. I say everyday where are all these people coming from and where the heck are they finding jobs to afford to live here!? And of course the most important is the damage to the natural beauty, destruction of historic places… There is litter, pollution everywhere now. Traffic is impossible. Crime is terrible and there’s crime around here now that used to be rare. The atrocious greed happening in this area is astounding and sickening, shame on the soulless developers and the politicians, government people they obviously have in their back pockets!!

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