A new residential project, to be located in Franklin behind Gentry’s Farm, has been proposed. The project requires annexation of the former Pewitt Farm property off Old Charlotte Pike East. In a three-part series, we will present information about this project from different perspectives. Today’s article highlights some background information about the property and potential project.
The discussion over the proposed new development and annexation is about more than just development. It is about a changing way of life, and it is about what the community wants to leave for future generations.
Little was said in 2017 when Stewart Campbell Jr. Legacy Trust purchased farmland on Old Charlotte Pike from the Pewitt family. It sat quietly for three years, but then a development company came along with a plan that included putting a road through Gentry Farm and creating a high-density development on what is currently open farmland. That land also butts up to other farmland and historic buildings.
From a growth perspective, Tennessee is still growing in spite of the pandemic. Wallet Hub ranks Nashville (including Williamson County) as the 4th hottest real estate market in the country in 2020. People are moving here from all over, with lots coming from California and Illinois. They are coming for the weather, the natural beauty, the lifestyle, the retirement living, and the affordability. Offering contemporary housing options surrounded by beautiful open farmland is certainly inviting, and sure to increase tax revenues.
On the other side of the coin is how it will affect the almost 175-year-old Gentry Farm which is a Century Farm and Hamilton Place which is a historic home on the National Register of Historic Places. For 25 years families have visited Gentry Farm for summer camps and the fall pumpkin patch. In a Williamson Herald story, Allen Gentry, a sixth-generation descendent of the original owner of the land, said that the development will change their way of life. And according to the website American Farmland Trust, more than 2,000 acres of agricultural land is converted every day into development. This organization works to transfer land to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Another factor that comes into play is urban growth boundaries and land use zoning. The developer wants Franklin to annex the land they will be developing. And if they do annex, there is still the question of whether the land falls under a rural or suburban land use code. If suburban, there are fewer issues about high density building. If rural, does the land fall under the one unit per acre or the one unit per five acres ruling? If the land falls under traditional codes for the area, then instead of 154 housing units blending townhomes and houses, it would be about 11 homes. But this is only speculation brought up on Protect the Gentry Farm Facebook page.
The decisions made about this issue will have long-term effects on what Williamson County will look like in the next 20, 50, or 100 years. It is the quintessential dilemma of the modern age. How do we plan for growth and balance that with providing the next generations with a sense of history, natural beauty, and farmland to support the growing population with no crystal ball to help us see the future? Hard work by local Alderman, listening to the community, and time will tell.
Recently, there have been a number of conversations with property owners and representatives of parcels located in the West Sanitary Sewer Basin regarding potential future development and infrastructure. This led to a discussion with the City of Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen during their August 11, 2020 Work Session regarding a variety of ideas and expectations regarding the future alignment of a section of Old Charlotte Pike and the type and intensity of future development in this area of the City and County. Currently, the City of Franklin’s Land Use Plan, Envision Franklin, designates this area as the Conservation Subdivision Design Concept, and the City’s Comprehensive Transportation Network Plan (Connect Franklin) includes a general alignment for Old Charlotte Pike. In order for the City to effectively plan for the extension of public infrastructure and provide property owners and interested citizens meaningful guidance regarding the City’s vision for this area, staff has drafted a resolution that affords the Board of Mayor and Aldermen the opportunity to provide guidance to citizens and staff on the Board’s vision for this area.
This Resolution is intended to be placed on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting agenda scheduled for Tuesday, September 22, 2020 for consideration.