In front of the Board of Mayor and Alderman now is a rezoning request in Brixworth. This request was brought to my attention by neighbors and I deemed it worthy to discuss the situation in my Hot Topics.
Spring Hill invited public participation in developing a comprehensive plan for the city that we know as "Spring Hill Rising: 2040." Brixworth is located in the middle of an area marked for "Residential Neighborhood Areas." The rezoning proposal for Brixworth fits this plan as the request is to change 24.2 acres from R-2 (medium density) to R-4 (high density).
But why are we considering putting high density zoning in the middle of medium density existing zoning? In the Staff Memorandum by Jon Baughman, he addresses the comprehensive plan stating that this site "represents a transition between natural and rural settings and more intense environments such as mixed use areas, city neighborhood areas and community commerce areas." I submit that this rezoning request does not transition anything. It's equal to putting an apartment complex in the middle of a single family dwelling neighborhood.
The plan is to allow 60 foot lot widths where, right now, the developer is only allowed 80 foot lot widths.
At the work session meeting on March 6, 2017, I spoke about the lack of transition and how the zoning, if approved, puts a tiny dot in a much bigger area of R-2 zoning. It simply doesn't fit.
Alderman Jonathan Duda and Alderman Matt Fitterer were the ONLY advocates that I remember from the meeting. You read that right. Even the developer stood up to say that he didn't want the rezoning. He only requested it, so he says, because that is what the market is demanding. Last I checked, no one in Spring Hill had any trouble selling a single family dwelling no matter the lot size.
Alderman Duda pointed to the neighboring area in Wyngate Estates as they, too, have 60 foot lot widths. He dismisses the fact that it still is zoned R-2 and that the other neighbors have 80 foot lot widths.
As I pointed out in my comments to BOMA, Mayor Rick Graham already spoke on the rezoning request. He spoke through the Planning Commission for which he, alone, appointed 6 of the 7 members. BOMA placed the 7th member on the Planning Commission as their representative. Just as it had for as long as I can remember, that representative is Alderman Duda. Alderman Matt Fitterer also serves on the Planning Commission and this request was recommended to BOMA by a vote of 7-0.
In other words, Aldermen Duda and Fitterer actually voted for the plan. Mayor Graham was heard loud and clear in his support through his appointees on the Planning Commission that also voted in its favor.
I expect this zoning request will be approved by BOMA. It's another example of BOMA not listening to the citizens of Spring Hill. Ironically, in this case, they're not even listening to the developer.
I reside in Cameron Farms. Nearly every day, I leave the neighborhood and enjoy the view of farmland similar to where I grew up in Moulton, Alabama. I knew all along that the day would come that the farmland I enjoyed would develop into an intense commercial district.
The time is now and a request for rezoning is before BOMA. Southeast Venture and Littlejohn Engineering is asking BOMA to approve a Gateway Planned Zoning District for 775.48 acres.
At the work session meeting on March 6, 2017, I commented on some of my concerns with this property and the proposal. I served on the Joint Spring Hill/Thompson's Station Transportation Task Force after I was appointed by former Mayor Mike Dinwiddie. Our recommendation was to extend Buckner Road to Interstate 65 and build an interchange at that location.
It is imperative that Spring Hill have another access to Interstate 65. We need it now. We must also move traffic east/west in our town to help facilitate getting commuters to the Interstate. The Alexander farm is an essential piece to this puzzle and Spring Hill cannot afford to lose the opportunity to achieve this goal.
The proposed 3-phase development plan indicates that the developer will build the following BEFORE an interchange is in place at Interstate 65 and Buckner Road:
That's an ASTOUNDING total of 1,739 residential units and 751,410 square feet of retail space!!! To put that in perspective, the average size of a Wal-Mart store in 2013 was 159,000 square feet (Source: Nasdaq). The proposal is nearly 5 Wal-Mart store BEFORE an interchange is constructed.
One of the notes I wrote during the meeting and discussion of the topic was "Thompson's Station approval?" I am the former Town Engineer for Thompson's Station and understand their legitimate concerns. I also understand the history of Thompson's Station not wanting more connections to Thompson's Station Road. At the end of the meeting and during the roundtable discussion, Mayor Graham mentioned that he received a letter from Thompson's Station indicating they wanted a "seat at the table."
Yes. We need to build a coherent, friendly, and mutual relationship with Thompson's Station and this property can be the first step in doing so. Let's bring them to the table and invite their input, too. Together, we will be a stronger and better community.
For now, this proposal is not a good plan for the city. By approving the plan as it is, we lose control over the most important piece of property in our city. The plan needs improvement. Spring Hill MUST do more to protect our interests and, currently, BOMA is not doing it. Without the interchange approved by all entities and, at least, partially funded, the Alexander farm can remain the beautiful cow pasture it is today.
Spring Hill citizens often speak of traffic and infrastructure problems as being the biggest challenge facing the city. The response from our Board of Mayor and Aldermen has been that they're working on it. It's been that way for at least a decade.
It's past time for the problem to go from "working on it" to actually doing something about it.
The city must take steps to ensure construction to improve our roads are taken before we continue amplifying the problem. A determined focus in this direction is needed if traffic is going to get better before it gets worse. A "squeaky wheel" approach to the state and federal levels of government is necessary to get funding for projects. Rather than making excuses for what we can't do, we must look for what we can do. BOMA has failed us for many years. They must be shown that words are not enough and the way to do it is put a new Board in place.