Brownland Farm Development Update Goes to Staff, Planning Committee | Local News
A long-debated proposal for the rezoning and development of Brownland Farm for residential purposes was pushed through the main stages of the planning process.
On Tuesday night, Franklin’s aldermen voted unanimously to send the plan back to staff, then to the planning committee, before it returned to the council of mayors and aldermen. Significant changes to the plan over the past week prompted the vote.
Ahead of the vote on Tuesday, city administrator Eric Stuckey said the board may take action to change the plan, which would go to the planning committee for approval without staff review.
âI strongly suggest you don’t do this,â Stuckey said. âThis plan literally changed this afternoon. â¦ To change it and modify it without staff review, while it may have merit, we are best served to send it back through a process that engages professional review and public feedback on a project proposal that has now changed, in our view, significantly.
At the last board meeting, city tech staff said they recently uncovered information about floodplains that would present the issues for first responders in an emergency.
In a centennial flood, city engineer Paul Holzen said emergency responders should cross 2 feet or more of water at the new Mack Hatcher intersection along Hillsboro Road. The property is just to the northwest, located in the 500 year old floodplain.
For the context, the flood of May 2010 was a thousand-year-old flood. According to the National Weather Service, a 100-year flood is an event that has a statistical probability of 1% of occurring in a given year.
Since the discovery, the developers have identified an emergency access route that they plan to build before the project is certified.
Brownland Farm has been an equestrian event space and horse farm for over 50 years. Franklin owners and residents Robin and Michelle Anderton started working with Land Solutions two years ago to transform their property into a residential community.
The Andertons said they believe the developer of the property will stick with what matches the character of the community.
Christ Community Church has agreed to allow part of its land to be developed, and one of the 233-acre project plots is attached to the Monticello neighborhood east of Hillsboro Road, across from the rest of the development.
Recent development plans included 205 single-family homes, 177 townhouses, 24 multiplex units, and 64 multi-family units, as well as 3 miles of walking trails, a swimming pool, lodge and a fishing pond. âAffordable housingâ, which was not specifically defined, was to include 10% of units.
But the new proposal would eliminate condominium units altogether, reducing the plan from 470 to 395 units, which Land Solutions CEO Kevin Estes said was not a big change.
Estes said his team had also worked to successfully improve access to the area and that he had “checked the floodplain to death”. He highlighted several other projects approved since the passage of Envision Franklin that placed lots in the floodplain.
He asked city leaders to heed the many people who gave their opinion to the public and who did not attend Tuesday night’s meeting.
Other conditions for approval, according to developer Greg Gamble of Gamble Collaborative Design, included the following changes, which he called “minimal”:
1. Along with the approval of the first site plan, the applicant will provide an emergency access easement deed and improvement plans to bypass Mack Hatcher Parkway and Fulton Greer Lane.
2. Grading permit will only be granted when a conditional chart revision letter is approved by FEMA.
3. Multi-family units will not consist of more than four units per building, in accordance with Envision Franklin guidelines.
4. Residential lots will be removed from the development plan when the existing floodplain is more than 36 inches deep.
5. The development plan will have a maximum of 395 dwellings.
During the final public hearing for the project, residents and members of Christ Community Church, which partnered with developers at Brownland Farm to include some of their own land, spoke about the measure.
Many of those opposed to the development wore yellow stickers, urging aldermen to vote against the rezoning of Brownland Farm. A few also spoke in favor of development, most noting that they attended Christ Community Church.
Franklin alderman candidates Angela Hubbard and Matt Brown, both candidates for the Ward 2 seat in which the property is located, have spoken out against it.
Franklin resident Mary Swafford Stone asked the board why they would consider building in a flood zone.
âDevelopment sounds good. Everything sounds good to them, âshe said. âBut that’s ignoring everyone around them. It is not a community. Think of the community that is already there.
Although the developers have assured city staff that tampering with floodplain safety would bring the property, some people are still not convinced.
Former Williamson County Commissioner Todd Kaestner said he lived downstream from the property. He recounted how, during the March flood, several Angus cattle floated on his property.
Kaestner handed out sheets showing last year’s flow along the Harpeth River after the flooding, which he said was 5,420 cubic feet per second, or 2.4 million gallons of water per minute . He called it “a fraction of the flow of what it was in May 2010.”
âNot all floodplains are created equal,â Estes argued. âThe area we’re talking about developingâ¦ all the work we provide and the giant buffers we leave along the Harpeth River, when did the bigger buffers go non-environmental? We are doing the right thing, and we are doing the right thing by the city.
Ward 1 Alderman Bev Burger said she was frustrated with the duration of the project.
âTwo years later, we shouldn’t be here tonight at this point. Let’s talk about the facts, âshe said, noting that there are arguments to be made both for and against the claims of flooding, traffic and the longevity of the project. âI do my best to listen to the experts. What about our own staff, who were okay with that? “
Ward 2 Alderman Dana McLendon praised the developers for making a “good faith effort” to comply with city regulations. But as a lawyer, he said he was concerned that a vote to move the project forward on such short notice of the new material could lead to a trial.
“If you act tonight, to do anything other than postpone this matter, it is possible that the changes were significant enough that we acted ultra vires, outside the law,” he said, asking his notice to Deputy City Attorney William Squires. .
“There is certainly a possibility that a plaintiff’s lawyer will file a claim making that claim, yes,” Squires replied. “I don’t think it would be responsible for this board to act to approve this project with these five changes, or any of them, given that they arrived for our review after the publication of the agenda and after we vote last time and without the ability for staff to revise.
Getting back to the middle stages of the process is expected to take three to four months, said Deputy City Administrator Vernon Gerth. There will be public hearings both at the town planning commission and before the council of mayors and aldermen.
The council voted to postpone the rezoning measure for an additional uncontroversial parcel of land in the development until January 11, 2022, which is the earliest possible date on which the matter could come back to council.