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Growth Boundary plans to face public hearings in April

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They have to discuss events that are going on and give an estimate of where they think their boundaries will be in 20 years, Smartt said.


Wilson County Planning Director Tom Brashear said the committee was called together by city officials in Mt. Juliet who felt the city had reached some boundaries of the initial growth boundary sooner than expected.


Any community that wishes to can ask that the committee reconvene, Brashear said.


In 1999, the Tennessee General Assembly passed TCA 6-58-104, requiring local municipalities and county governments to cooperate in amending urban growth plans. Wilson County passed its own plan, nailing down growth boundaries in 2001.


Brashear said Mt. Juliet officials felt they had expanded to their southern growth boundaries faster than they anticipated and asked that the committee be reconvened in order to expand those boundaries.


According to Brashear, Mt. Juliet initially proposed extending their boundaries south to the Davidson and Rutherford County lines and as far north as Old Hickory Lake. However, as the committee has been meeting for months, Brashear noted many compromises have taken place.


They have agreed to shrink that proposal back, Brashear said.


During the course of several meetings, Brashear noted the committee discussed old growth boundaries that were drawn down the middle of someones property. The committee sought to address those issues, to follow property lines as is customary.


In the process, the committee weighed the options of placing portions of Possumtown inside Lebanon growth boundaries, including Friendship Christian School.


However, Brashear said after feedback from residents, county commissioners and Lebanon Planning Director Will Hager, they agreed to avoid adding the area into the citys boundaries.


That was the only thing that I know that was a real hot-button issue, Brashear said.


Brashear noted that online retailer Amazon was also a topic of discussion during the meetings, pointing out its property is within the Lebanon city limits and Wilson County.


He said the committee is considering changing the urban plan to place Amazon completely within Lebanons growth boundaries, eliminating the split property.


Smartt pointed out the 20-year growth plans and those boundaries are not the same as city limits. He said the changes in the plan do not mean cities will immediately annex areas added to their growth boundaries.


It does not change any city limits, it does make a future annexation possible, but not probable, Smartt said.


In the future, if a city wishes to annex an area included in its growth boundary, it must be prepared to bear the financial burden of providing services to the area. He pointed out property within the current boundaries may not have been affected by the boundary at all, and said the same can be said for properties brought into the new boundaries.


A lot of people jump to conclusions and think if their property is within the growth boundary, they say Lebanon wants to annex me, Smartt noted, which he said isnt true.


While a final plan has not been agreed upon, Brashear indicated a lengthy process must take place in order for the plan to be finalized. He also said there are consequences to a lack of compromise when adjusting growth boundaries.


According to the law, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown and Wilson County legislative bodies have to agree on the final plan. Before they submit the plan, Brashear said the committee is looking for public feedback in the form of two public hearings in the first week of April.


A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m., Monday, April 2, at Mt. Juliet High School, and again 6 p.m., Friday, April 6, at Lebanon High School, to allow the public to view the plan and submit their opinions.


Following those meetings, all local legislative bodies must pass the plans, and if any one body disagrees and fails to pass the plan, Brashear said the issue could become problematic.


There are state sales taxes at risk if you cant agree on the plan, Brashear noted.


He said if the local governments cant agree and a legislative body fails to pass the plan, it must return to the coordinating committee. The committee will submit either the same plan or an amended plan to the legislative bodies.


If a local government fails to pass the plan once again, Brashear said a State Administrative Law Judge would determine whether the plan is appropriate and the state could cut off local sales tax shares to city and county governments.


Its far better if we can get it agreed locally, Brashear said. The judge may not be familiar at all with Wilson County.


Smartt said the committee must present its final plan by April 21 and said the local governments have another 120 days to take action on the plan presented to them.


Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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