BY QUINT QUALLS
The Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor and Alderman voted Tuesday to approve the referendum for a disputed land annexation of the proposed Two Farms at Thompson’s Station development.
As a result of Tuesday’s vote, the annexation of a 700-acre property north of the town’s urban growth boundary will now go before “the qualified voters who reside in the area proposed to be annexed,” meaning the property owners Gary and Portia Baker. The property is located off of King Lane, north of West Harpeth Road. It forms the northern half of the proposed 2,000-acre Two Farms at Thompson’s Station development,
Beacon Land Development, out of Dallas, aims to turn the land into a mixed-use community that touts a form-based code approach with “pockets of density surrounded by vast tracts of open space.” The plan for the project features a possible Tiger Woods-designed golf course.
County residents opposed to Two Farms turn out in force
As has been the case for almost a year now, the latest resolution before Thompson’s Station officials concerning the Two Farms development was met with heated opposition from Williamson County residents. More than a dozen area residents – many of whom live in Franklin, Lieper’s Fork and Spring Hill – spoke against the proposed development on Tuesday.
Many of the residents who spoke in opposition to the development said they had moved to Williamson County to get away from urban intensity in other more developed areas of the country like Los Angeles and Atlanta. The most common issues expressed during public comment concerned mistrust of the developers, an increase in traffic as a result of the development and the loss of agricultural land.
The referendum comes after Williamson County officials voted in July to challenge the annexation of the 700-acre Eagle’s Rest Farm property, owned by the Bakers. County commissioners voted in July to give County Mayor Rogers Anderson the authority to initiate legal proceedings to contest the annexation by the town of Thompson’s Station.
While the vast majority of individuals who spoke during the public comment period came out against the development. One resident, Wes Collins, who lives off West Harpeth Road, said he has known for some time now that the Two Farms properties, owned by the Bakers and Keenans, would ultimately be developed.
“I don’t want to push a developer away that’s doing something like this when there are going to be seven other developers right behind him that just want to do straight homes on it,” he said.
“I feel we will get less density with something like this rather than if it goes away and six months later we are back fighting Fox Ridge Homes or Reeves Homes, unless we can come up with $40 million and buy the land.”
Town leaders defend Two Farms development
In response to some of the comments made by residents at the meeting, Alderman Brandon Bell explained how he was once in their position after moving to Thompson’s Station from Memphis a few years ago. Bell defended Thompson’s Station’s past votes in support of the Two Farms development, arguing that the alternative to what’s currently proposed could be much worse.
“My wife and I came here for lot of the same reasons you all did,” he said. “We moved into a traditional neighborhood development, Tollgate Village. That project was approved by the Williamson County Planning Commission, and I tell you, it’s been a total disaster, a total cluster. Alderman Shepard was there with me. We just got frustrated with the quality of life, all the broken promises. I was burning mad, speaking just like you all, saying this community needs to be fixed.”
“These guys, there’s not much better we can find out there. I wish we could find a local developer to do it, but lot of locals here have burned us on several subdivisions in this town. You have my word we are watching every move, and Abbott knows this, we’ve had some heated conversations. We’re watching him and expecting all this to be addressed. With this annexation, they can’t go put a shovel in ground. If this is first thing in process, I’m willing to start this, to see their plan.”
Information about development lacking, say opponents
A common complaint among residents at Tuesday’s meeting was that there was a lack of information about the developer’s plans for the site. However, the planning process for the Two Farms development has not yet really begun, as a concept plan has yet to be submitted for planning commission approval.
The development team had been working with town planners to refine the concept plan and ensure it complied with the town’s Land Development Ordinance. But the referendum issue halted the planning process.
At a session between developers and town staff in July, Dan Ford, vice president of the land planning firm for the project Beau Welling Design, said that 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.
In addition, while the traffic, biological, geotechnical and archaeological studies that have been launched to identify the constraints of the 2,000-acre site of the project, the results have not yet been finalized. Ford explained that the studies are done in tandem with the overall plans, informing the planning process along the way.
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at email@example.com.
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