After its concept plan passed the County Planning Commission in April, this near-billion dollar project, which has drawn traffic-worry protest from local residents, is preparing for the next stage of the approval process.
Developer John Rochford, of Rochford Realty and Construction, is getting ready to propose to the county plans for a nearly $1 billion development surrounded by the Natchez Trace Parkway. The 850-acre area, called Stephens Valley will include 791 homes, an 85 to 100 room boutique hotel, room for a restaurant and office and retail space. Development will take place over two decades, adding houses every year.
Set in northern Williamson and southern Davidson counties, the commercial section will front Highway 100. 435 acres of the project is open space. Originally the plan called for 871 residential units in Williamson County, but density and traffic concerns by the Planning Commission and nearby residents led Rochford to reduce that to 791.
Located about a mile from the Loveless Café, the vast majority of the residential section will be located in Williamson County. The subdivision’s road network will feed into Sneed and Pasquo roads.
With the concept plan approval in April, Rochford’s next step is to present a preliminary plat for approval so it can begin construction for utilities and infrastructure. Currently the developer is working on getting its construction documents together before it will submit for preliminary plat approval.
In an average development, this phase of the process usually takes months, according to Jeff Dial, financial controller and realtor at Rochford.
About a year after Rochford starts building infrastructure, construction on houses will begin. Alan Thompson, from Ragan, Smith and Associates, predicts that between 50 and 75 houses will be built a year, over a 20 year build out.
In the concept plan review, conducted by planning director Mike Matteson, several conditions were put on the plan’s approval. This list of things that Rochford must address in upcoming submissions include a list of common requirements of any development such as this.
One concern is traffic.
It has been a huge sticking point for local residents, who continue to protest the development.. It was of concern to the Planning Commission, too.
Rochford, as a condition of continued approval, will have to do off-sight road work, including work to Sneed Road and its intersections with Timberline Drive, Temple Road, Old Natchez Trace, Vaughn Road and Hillsboro Road. Originally the traffic study said that Sneed Road would need to be widened to four lanes in year 17 or 18 of 20- when the project was projected to hit 792 units. Rochford opted instead to cap development at 791, ans so Bob Murphy, of RPM Transportation and the county traffic consultant, indicated that widening Sneed Road would no longer be necessary.
“Williamson County has the most vigorous and thorough system for projects like this I have ever seen,” Rochford, said. “ I am proud of the project and the work we have done.”
“This has been a lengthy, two year, careful process,” Thompson, who helped design the site, said. “We got with Natchez Trace, we got with the Highway Commission.”
He said also that there have been four different bodies who conducted traffic surveys, and that process of approval carefully considers all of the concerns of the group.
At the County Commission meeting in May, following the approval of the concept plan, several commissioners expressed concerns about the project.
Barbara Sturgeon, 8th District, said she applauds Rochford for coming up with road improvements but is concerned about a plan being approved that would not be done for 20 years. She said she would like there to be five year evaluations of the road improvements, to make sure that the study’s projection of traffic lines up with reality.
Todd Kaestner, 9th District, said plainly that his constituents do not want this project.
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