The Lebanon Planning Commission questioned, hesitated and, ultimately, sent a handful of zoning changes surrounding property at 1850 Franklin Rd. to the Lebanon City Council with mixed feelings and recommendations during a special called meeting Monday night.
The group approved a land use plan amendment for about 27 acres of the property, sent a potential South Hartmann Gateway Overlay amendment for about 28 acres of the property to the council with no recommendation and sent a rezoning, plan of services and annexation and zoning plan to the council with negative recommendations.
Oldsmith Development Group made the requests for the 150-acre property, which were met with some hesitancy from commissioners following the Rowland Farms controversy on Leeville Pike. That involved a change in development plans from homes to own to a potential rental neighborhood after a developer sold the property to another developer.
Planner and Ward 4 Councilor Chris Crowell discussed the Leeville Pike development, which is about four miles from the Franklin Road property.
“We have a certain degree of trust in the development community — in builders — and that trust was breached severely,” said Crowell.
Caleb Thorne of Ragan-Smith Associates represents Oldsmith Development Group and said the group has worked with city planning staff for months to address highlighted concerns.
“We feel like through this process we’ve communicated throughout and heard your concerns and adjusted as needed, but, at the end of the day, we’re using the adopted document of the (South Hartmann Gateway Overlay) as our guiding principles and feel like the documents here before you match up with that,” Thorne said.
Lebanon Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Mack McCluskey said he did not feel comfortable approving the plans unless language was added that bound the property to the South Hartmann Gateway Overlay.
“I’m sorry it’s a trust issue. I’m voting for something that doesn’t say squat,” said McCluskey, who suggested adding “in accordance with the South Hartmann Gateway Overlay” into the plans.
Thorne and Lebanon Planning Director Paul Corder said the property would always be bound to the overlay unless the Lebanon City Council removes the overlay.
“We have to have words here that are enforceable by the city. (Thorne) and his people could sell the property tomorrow,” McCluskey said. “(Thorne) has incredible credibility, but he doesn’t own it. Credibility is out the window. So, we have to have something that comes back to the city to be enforced. That’s why I’m so hardheadedly focused on ‘compliance with the South Hartmann Overlay.’ So, if he sells it, whoever buys it still has to be in compliance with the South Hartmann Overlay.”
The commission attempted to make no recommendation for the three items that were ultimately sent to the council with negative recommendations before Corder discussed their role.
“The planning commission’s job is to make recommendations to the city council. Not doing that is grounds for removal,” Corder said.
The Lebanon City Council will have its first reading and public hearing for the development during its July 6 meeting, with the second reading set for July 20.