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MJ planning panel nixes Beckwith request

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MT. JULIET -- The most interesting thing that happened at the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission Thursday evening was what didn’t happen.

The commission unanimously turned down the preliminary development plan for Beckwith Crossing after the developer refused to defer the matter for a month and return with revised plans.

When commission Chair Luke Winchester told the developer that it has been the city’s policy to require two entrances for developments of this type, the developer offered to open up a one-lane gravel drive for emergency vehicles.

But Winchester said he didn’t think that would be in keeping with the quality of the rest of the development. He then asked the developer to agree to defer a decision for one month and come back with redrawn plans showing two entrances.

District 4 City Commissioner Jim Bradshaw asked the developers to also consider potential parking problems created by the developer’s request to vary the requirement that houses be set 30 feet from the street, to only 20 feet.

Planning Commissioners Phil Smartt and Lori Landry also expressed concerns about parking and traffic congestion on Beckwith Road.

Commissioner Brian Abston also asked the developer to consider deferral to redraw plans.

But Jason Morelock, speaking for the developer, said he thought they could “work it out so it will be an adequate solution.” He then asked for a vote on the plans as already submitted.

Winchester moved for a negative recommendation based on the single entrance and the setback issue. The commission voted unanimously to support that motion.

Beckwith Crossing is a proposed residential development designed for 110 single-family homes on 48.8 acres on the west side of Beckwith Road, adjacent to Del Webb at Providence.

Developers are seeking to move forward with the project now that State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr., has ruled in favor of Mt. Juliet’s ability to provide sewer service to the area if it is annexed into the city, instead of the tract falling under the jurisdiction of the rural Wilson County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WCWWTA).

Cooper’s opinion, requested by State Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, was issued on Valentine’s Day.

At Thursday night’s meeting, the Planning Commission did approve the developer’s plan of services for the city to provide Beckwith with water, sewer, police and fire protection, and it also approved the annexation of Beckwith contingent on approval of the development plan, but the commission voted the development plan down.

Rezoning of a city-owned property, meanwhile, was deferred at the request of City Manager Kenny Martin. The city had asked that about 8 acres that it owns on Pleasant Grove Road be rezoned from residential single family (RS-40) to commercial mixed use (CMU).

The request was made although there is no development plan for the site as of now; however, a commercial interest has been expressed.  

This is the same piece of property for which the City Commission voted to authorize a letter of intent to sell to Premier Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep of Lebanon on Jan. 13 this year.

The proposal would have offered the property at $1 million, with half of the purchase price to be returned when the project is 20 percent complete.

Local resident Pat Tuttle expressed concern about possible light and noise issues and asked the commissioners to arrange to set similar controls for this property as they had used for the neighboring Walmart store.

District 1 City Commissioner Ray Justice told the planning commission he was concerned about the lack of a planned unit development (PUD) overlay. “Don’t move it forward until there is a plan,” he said.

At that point, with four city commissioners present and agreeing with Justice, Martin requested that the matter be deferred.

The Planning Commission also voted to recommend that the City Commission approve two zoning ordinance amendments. The first would require exterior sidewalks on all new development within the city.

Most residential development already provides interior sidewalks, but now developers will also have to add sidewalks along streets at the exterior edges of the developments.

Commercial developments would have similar requirements. The sidewalks would have to be at least 5 feet wide and 4 inches thick in general, and 6 inches thick when crossing driveways.

The ordinance would also make home and business owners responsible for maintaining sidewalks in front of their property.

The second amendment would change zoning definitions to allow pawn shops and payday loan stores only in areas zoned industrial restricted (IR). It would also add restrictions for establishing pawn shops and payday loan stores similar to those for liquor stores regarding proximity to schools, churches and parks.

The commission also agreed to rezone from office and professional service (OPS) to IR a 90-acre plot between Beckwith Road and Rutland Drive north of Eastgate Boulevard owned by Jack Lowery.

Two site plans were also approved. The first one was for an Internet business which repairs electronic equipment to build a new shop across East Hill Street from the current Planning Commission office.

The second was for a Speedway service station to be erected at the northeast corner of Lebanon and Nonaville Roads. The station will be open 24 hours a day. The developer said work on the building will start in August or early September.

Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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Beckwith Crossing, developer, Mt. Juliet Planning Commission
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