Planners examine city's growth

Monday, September 11, 2006

With new developments popping up all over Shelbyville, the city's planning commission sat down Thursday to discuss what kind of growth they want.

The commission discussed guidelines for city staff for planned developments, specifically mixed uses within the development such as agricultural and commercial, as well as what style of homes they want in the PUDs -- a rural appearance, a Florida Keys townhouse or a Cape Cod style unit with a minimum separation between buildings.

The discussion also gravitated toward the subject of open space and what percentage of a development would be dedicated to it.

The key word seems to be "livability."

The 2 1/2 hour discussion was scheduled after the commission deferred a request two weeks ago to rezone 120 acres off of Highway 231 North through Midland Road from R-1 (Low Density Residential) to PUD (Planned Unit Development).

The proposed development is called Hearthstone, made up of 268 lots, which would be located across from the Shelbyville Airport. Some commissioners criticized the design for the lack of open space. The lots are 41 feet wide and the spaces between homes would be only 10 feet.

City planning and zoning director Kip Green said that the current design does not meet regulations. "The open space does not meet the requirements, the percentage of open space does not meet the requirements," he said.

Green added that in one of the open space designs for one of the recent developments, it was simply left over land on the property after the lots had been carved out. "That's simply not the purpose of open space."

In fact, the design has made some commissioners and city staff think that developers are trying to cram as many lots onto a piece of property as they can.

Green says the commission doesn't want to be so far to one side as "to be tree hugging" but on the other hand, does not want to go as far as clear cutting everything and dropping in asphalt.

Preserving natural beauty is a key concern. Since most of the growth is coming to the north end of town, commissioner want to conserve the gateway into Shelbyville.

One of the comments made by the planning staff two weeks ago stated that open space should be designed around natural features if possible such as blue line streams, ponds, existing trees, and accessible for all home owners to enjoy.

Another development, Carlton Way, is a 22.37 acres site on Frank Martin Road that the developers want rezoned from R-1 (Low Density Residential) to PRD (Planned Residential Development). The commission deferred action due to questions about sidewalks and open space.

Now that the city is beginning to spread out and stretch beyond the core neighborhood, mainly toward the north towards Rutherford County, discussion was made on the need for extension of city services, such as fire, sanitation and police.

Sewer and water was also a topic, with concerns about minimum fire flow and keeping ISO ratings at a level where insurance rates can be kept low.

Green said the discussion was a good first step in clarifying for developers what the city is looking for. "When they bring us a package and we sit down, all that we have to do is some minor modification and everything will work well."