Two projects continue to move forward in Thompson’s Station that are likely to change the small, rural community for decades to come.
Both Two Farms, a large residential development around a golf course, and planning for the expansion of Highway 31, have sparked controversy and question.
Where we are with Two Farms:
The debate and planning for Two Farms has been contentious since its start in 2015. As planned, the $150 million development will span across 2,000 acres with 800 homes.
A vocal outcry about the scale of the development came from Thompson’s Station residents and residents of surrounding unincorporated areas, including members of music’s Judd Family. In late 2015, Williamson County leaders contested the 2,000-acre annexation into Thompson’s Station. Opponents noted that the 700-acre Baker Farm portion was outside the town’s Urban Growth Boundary, and could not be annexed without further legal process under the state Growth Managment law. Ultimately, the matter was settled through a referendum involving only landowners Portia and Gary Baker, who voted for annexation.
Beacon Land Development can now go ahead with purchasing the property and preparing to present its plans for approval.
So far, Beacon has worked with the town to have the land zoned as a mixed-use transect community. Any agreement on a project will include infrastructure improvements – such as schools, a fire station and road work. Those issues would be contingent upon the approval of a concept plan. The Board of Mayor and Alderman would have to approve the zoning before the developer will have the concept planned approved.
Overall, the developer said he’s ready to finally see the project begin.
“Certainly that slowed everything down from our standpoint, and there are still a few hurdles to go through which we hope will be successful,” Beacon Land Developer principal developer Mike Abbot said. “We are hopeful that by the end of May, we will be through that part of the process and start getting down to the real, hard work of submitting plans to the city to approve and really get started on construction from a development standpoint.”
Highway 31 widening up for debate:
In conjunction with questions about Two Farms, uncertainty still looms when it comes to what the town will do about U.S. Highway 31, frequently clogged with bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic through the town, mostly headed to Spring Hill and points south. Mayor Corey Napier previously announced his plan to create a Main Street-type sector along its part of the corridor.
“We are going to embark on major thoroughfare planning in 2017 with the new board and planning commissioners,” Napier said. “Thus, we continue to take the stance that slowing traffic down with well-planned roads, with multiple access points along with other transit options. Like trails would be the future, not five-lane highways coming through our pedestrian friendly, greater downtown area of the future.”
Elected leaders formally adopted a new Land Development Ordinance for Thompson’s Station in September, 2015, after a seven-month process.
The document includes an updated sector map, which establishes the overall framework for growth in different areas of the town. The intersection of Thompson’s Station Road and Highway 31 is designated as a G3 Targeted Growth Sector. It is intended to protect the character of the historic buildings and to intensify uses around the intersection to create a downtown.
However, leaders from Spring Hill and the Tennessee Department of Transportation foresee Highway 31 widening through the whole corridor as a four to five-lane highway. Expanding the roadway would alleviate one of the worst traffic crunches within Williamson County.
Those intentions differ from what Thompson’s Station would like to do.
“We foresee Highway 31 staying two lanes coming into the area with greenspace buffering, trailways, etc.,” Napier said. “Ultimately, we see the Spring Hill traffic using the new interchange at Buckner, alleviating a large amount of the North-South traffic. We also are planning for a parallel road on the east side of Highway 31 as future development occurs, creating another option for North–South traffic.”
Zach Harmuth covers Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station for the Spring Hill Home Page.