Concerned citizens in Franklin rally to stop proposed mega subdivision


FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Some residents are raising what they consider, "mega"-concerns against a developing mega subdivision.

Rochford Realty and Construction Co. is developing Stephens Valley. Davidson County approval a year ago, depends on Williamson County approving nearly 900 residential lots along Natchez Trace Parkway.

Laura Turner with Citizens for Old Natchez Trace held a rally today to halt the project.

Developers say, over 20 years the project will include more than 1,100 homes, townhomes, offices and retail lots on 850 acres in Davidson and Williamson County.

Turner says, "It's too much density. Mr. Rochford has the right to develop property that he wants to develop but it needs to be something that is more fitting for this community."

Davidson county resident, Brian Foraker says, "The houses get built in Williamson County, but in Davidson County we're going to get all the traffic."

Congestion on several roads is just one concern on the list that includes infrastructure improvements.

Turner says, "Growth doesn't pay for itself. We pay for it. More importantly, it's scenic, historic, culturally significant and environmentally sensitive. We have Indian mounds; we have the Harpeth River running through it. We have one of the oldest roads in the country. The valley is surrounded by the Natchez Trace Parkway."

Williamson County commissioner, Todd Kaestner, says he pushed for the area to remain open and green. But he says with zoning approval in 1988 reaffirmed in 2007 in the county's award winning comprehensive land use plan...

Todd Kaesner tells FOX 17 News, "I am a consistent, strong advocate for rural preservation, but Stevens Valley was zoned for this planned density in 1988. The county's award winning Land Use Plan was passed in 2007 and it reaffirmed this density of one home per acre.

Kaesner continues, Because the zoning is not in conflict with the county land use plan, like in other areas, and the zoning has been in place for 27 years, I don't know how the density can be forced lower at this point. I have pushed the developer to minimize the impact of the development, and have tried to make it be the best that it can be for this area of the county, even though I did argue for this area to remain an open, green farm.

Kaesner says, At this point, the neighbors' primary concern and complaint is traffic. That is a huge issue, and that's a winnable battle. The county planning staff is focusing upon traffic and has its own traffic consultant engaged. One concerning element of this plan is a connector between the new development and Timberline subdivision. Both Sherri Clark - the other 9th district commissioner - and I are adamantly opposed to and are working against such a connection as it will significantly damage the quality of life in Timberline, by creating a cut-thru roadway.

" This is not a done deal," says Turner.

Foraker says, "Make your voice known. I don't think we can stop the development, but we can certainly slow the density for the roads to sustain."

Turner and other residents are moving their efforts forward by attending upcoming district meetings at the Williamson County Highway Dept. on March 2 at 8:30 a.m. and the Williamson County Planning Commission meeting on March 10 at 7 p.m.

Stephens Valley sent Fox 17 the following statement:

"Stephens Valley has worked directly with the Natchez Trace Parkway to develop a plan that is environmentally sensitive and will utilize the natural features of the site to respect the historical context of the Trace:

6O% open space

Reforestation of view shed from Natchez Trace

Preservation of 90% of the existing tree canopy.

Stephens Valley is not exceeding the density of the zoning established by Williamson County. We have worked with Metro Public Works on proposed offsite road improvements that will accommodate any additional traffic from Stephens Valley.All utility and required road improvements attributable to Stephens Valley will be paid for by Stephens Valley. In addition new development fees are required by Williamson County to cover the impact of new residential development.

The Stephens family has had a vision for this property for decades, long before most existing residents moved to this area. Several of the adjacent communities trace side and Breckston Park were originally a part of the Stephens family farm.

This valley has been one of the most desirable properties to be developed for decades. The Stephens family have been very sensitive to timing and having the best and right team to develop the valley. That season is now.

Over the last 18 months and 20 meetings we don't recall Laura turner attending any of our community invitations to gain information in regards to our proposed development plans."

Metro Nashville Councilman Dave Rosenberg released this statement to Fox 17:

"The Stephens Valley project, which will be built over a period of 20 years, will bring vital services to Bellevue and needed tax revenue to Davidson County. The small part of the project that lays within Davidson County is mainly village-style commercial property, and the developer has worked with nearby neighbors and committed millions of dollars to off-site road improvements to mitigate potential traffic impacts.

"I agree with the general concerns regarding Highway 100's current traffic issues and appreciate our state legislators' efforts to get the Haslam administration to fund needed improvements to that road. I'm hopeful that with the Speaker of the House and House Finance Chair's legislative districts also directly impacted, they will join our local legislators in urging the legislature to allocate funds for these improvements if the Governor won't."

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