Members of the Cason Trailhead community attended an informal meeting regarding an attempt to rezone property in their area Tuesday evening at Cason Lane Academy.
The meeting was to inform the community of the possibility of the rezoning and also hear their concerns about the project. Before the meeting started, however, neighbors were discussing their outrage and even posing the idea of starting a petition against the project.
The meeting was attended by nearly 100 members of the community, according to the sign-in sheet provided by the city. In addition to the community members, the meeting was also attended by Brian Burns, whose company purchased the land being developed, and representatives from the city, including Sam Huddleston, environmental engineer; Marina Rush, principal planner; Austin Cooper, planner; and Mike Browning, Murfreesboro public information officer.
The rezoning, which has not been applied for yet, looks to change the property from an RS10 to a “planned residential development” and will be the first step in developing newly purchased property next to Cason Trailhead Greenway. The property is right behind the neighborhood most of the meeting’s attendees live in.
The development project, titled Hidden River Estate, looks to build 384 townhouses in three different sizes inside what will be a gated community. Clyde Runtree, a planner with Huddleston-Steele Engineering, gave a presentation to the community members about the project.
But the amenities and details of the gated community were not what the meeting attendees were concerned with.
One of the concerns was that the addition of townhouses would affect the property value of the already established neighborhoods. However, Runtree assured the group that the townhouses planned were higher end and “if anything, property value will go up.”
Another concern was that the wildlife currently living in that area that would have nowhere else to go. Runtree answered that wildlife impact studies would need to be done as the project went along.
As the questions kept coming, however, the biggest concern arose.
“It is already congested. It is already backed up,” said a community member who attended the meeting. “If you are here at 5 o’clock rush hour, good luck … The traffic right now needs to be fixed first before we talk about anything else in Murfreesboro… Right now, we’re turning into a Nashville. We didn’t move here to live in Nashville… This can’t go on until we fixed what needs to be fixed first.”
After Runtree’s presentation, more concerns were brought up regarding the length of time the actual construction would take and what effect that would have on the community. Runtree explained that construction could take anywhere from five to 10 years to fully complete the whole project. For the people living there, they would live next to the construction, traffic and noise.
After over an hour of presentation and questions, Runtree dismissed the crowd and took one-on-one questions, along with Burns and the city council representatives.
“I can understand their concerns,” Burns said after the meeting concluded.
He went on to say that Murfreesboro had a lack of affordable, higher-end townhomes, and he wants to bring them to the city.
After this, though, members of the community did not feel satisfied. Some felt that they weren’t being represented well by the City of Murfreesboro on this matter.
“It’s just business,” said Corey Colley, a member of the community and nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “… This is an opportunity and chance to voice your vote. Elected officials have made the decisions. Let’s see what we can change.”
Overall, the members of the Cason Trailhead community were unhappy with the idea of the project. Not only did the idea of construction leave a bad taste in their mouths, but many of them also felt like the community members weren’t being given a fair chance. Many felt like they were not adequately notified about the meeting nor were they given enough time to research and prepare for the meeting. Runtree, however, reassured them that they sent out three times the number of letters required to notify the residents.
The next steps in the development process will be applying to rezone the property, a planning commission meeting and a meeting with the city council. All meeting times will be listed on the City of Murfreesboro’s website under planning commission agendas. The meetings will be open to the public.
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