At the end of last year, Thompson’s Station annexed some 2,000 acres between West Harpeth Road and Coleman Road, and has now zoned it to allow a huge mixed-use community that will be built around a Tiger Woods-designed golf course. Beacon Development and the golfer are teamed up to create the $150 million development that will include about 800 homes, a health center and, of course, an 18-hole golf course designed by Woods.
Originally the developers were ready to break ground in March, but there has been some intesifying push back by Thompson’s Station residents. Discussion at the marathon-budget session of the county commission meeting last Monday went so far as to touch on the possibility of a county-wide referendum to reverse the annexation by Thompson’s Station of the Two Farms land, which went through the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor and Aldermen at the end of 2015. However, this is just talk at this point.
The town Board of Mayor and Alderman- in approving the rezoning of the property to a Transect Community, for mixed use- wanted to be sure that in approving the project the municipality would get something out of it, including infrastructure improvements and school building, and made it a condition that would have to included in any concept plan.
Meanwhile, the developers continue to prep for the first major approval of plans by Thompson’s Station.
Beau Welling Design, the project’s planning firm, may present a concept plan for the project- the first step in the approval process- to the Thompson’s Station planning commission this month when they meet on July 25.
According to Dan Ford, vice president of land planning for Beau Welling, their meetings with local officials have involved scrutinizing every aspect of the project to make sure it is in total compliance with the town’s Land Development ordinance.
Because the project is in the early, conceptual stages of the planning process, exact figures and details like home counts and lot sizes have not yet been nailed down, Ford said.
“Nothing is exact at this point,” he said. “It gets back to the technical studies that we have underway. We are analyzing the site and seeing how our vision needs to respond to the analysis of that site, but we’re still waiting on a lot of our experts to formally delineate some of the constraints of those natural resources. So once those become defined, then that’s what we’ll react to.”
Ford said the approval of the rezoning of the Two Farms property represented a commitment by the developer to the town’s ordinance and to an overall vision of the project.
Now, the project team is working to refine the plan into something more concrete. One major step in that process involves the traffic, biological, geotechnical and archaeological studies that have been launched to identify the constraints of the 2,000-acre site of the project.
Another constraint- if they have their say- are the resident’s of the area.
In June, citizens met at a town hall to discuss options for stopping the project.
A myriad of issues were brought up concerning Two Farms, such as land preservation, environmental protection, traffic and increased taxpayer burden for county services. But very quickly the town hall turned to a singular subject: how to stop the development from occurring.
Residents pressed County Commissioner Todd Kaestner and land use expert Bill Terry, of the American Institute of Certified Planners, for any possible legal grounds for thwarting the project.
“The issue of zoning of property is pretty significant here,” Terry said. “As soon as it was annexed into the city, the county went away and the city came into play. I understand that they have zoned it a certain classification allowing development to go forward. The only way to stop it from going forward is to challenge the approval or process in court.”
Kaestner said in 2014 the state legislature approved a change to the state’s annexation law which created a loophole for municipalities to annex outside of their urban growth boundaries. This, according to Kaestner, allowed Thompson’s Station to leap north and annex the 2,000 acres between Coleman Road and State Route 840.
“The amendment that created the loophole, as near as we can tell, relates to one guy, out around Kingsport,” Kaestner said. “He had a piece of land, wanted one thing done – one guy, one spot – and the state legislators passed an amendment to allow it to happen. Now we have developers running through a chink in the armor. It’s like kids playing Monopoly. Play to the edge of the rules and you win.”
“There are some things being worked on. We haven’t just rolled over and died like the armadillos on I-65. We are working, but it’s not a foregone conclusion at this point.”
Some 850 acres of the plan would be open space.
The site would be the first golf course actually designed by Tiger Woods.
A decision in January saw the 1,200 acres of the property north of West Harpeth Road and south of Coleman Road rezoned into Transect Community, a type of zoning designation allowing for the mixed-use community and Tiger Woods-designed golf course the developers are planning.
In May, the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor and Alderman voted final approval for the rezoning of the remaining second phase of the project, rezoning the entire 2,000-acre project.
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