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County discusses pair of potential PUDs

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 5/28/22

The Bedford County Planning and Zoning Commission study session Tuesday was well-attended, bringing out commissioners, rural citizens, and developers—all with their own take on another possible …

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County discusses pair of potential PUDs

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The Bedford County Planning and Zoning Commission study session Tuesday was well-attended, bringing out commissioners, rural citizens, and developers—all with their own take on another possible planned unit development (PUD) on E.C. Arnold Lane.

The homes would be one to two stories, 1,800 square feet, and would cost $395,000 on average. Casey Keister from Meritage Homes attended the study session to address Commissioner questions.

Many of the officials’ primary concerns involved lot size—each being about 7,200 square feet (0.17 acres.)

“My recommendation to them was . . . that was not something I felt like had half-way for success in Bedford County . . . . I don’t really feel like they fit our land-use plan,” said zoning director Chris White. White can only advise the planning commission; he does not vote.

A similar situation happened in Gallatin last November when their planning commission voted for an unfavorable recommendation on Meritage Home’s proposed 158- home subdivision on Long Hollow Pike. They stated similar concerns over the small lot sizes.

E.C. Arnold Lane as well is considered a sub-standard road, according to White. “I can’t see it handling this many people,” Commissioner Linda Yockey said.

Another major concern was the influx of students on the school system.

Chair of the planning and zoning commission, Kennon Threet, said, “I complement our county commissioners for holding our taxes as low as they have. But at the same time, when you start adding 500-plus houses in a short period of time, it’s going to get crowded . . . and all the things we planned to accomplish will go out the window.”

He added this PUD would add more property tax revenue but not enough to cover the cost of adding more schools. The cost can be $7,800 to $12,000 to educate a student.

White explained there is also an adequate facilities tax based on new construction, which is a one-time fee, costing a dollar per square foot. It is allocated to debt service on school construction, according to White.

White said they plan to have Director of Bedford County Schools Tammy Garrett attend the planning and zoning meetings.

It was discussed how this proposed PUD would have a step system for sewer. Threet said a step system is monitored by the utility district.

“But Bedford Utility [BCUD] has already said they don’t feel like they’re big enough to handle the extra load,” he said.

Planning commissioner Brent Stacy added, “You don’t want to do totally away with growth—we do need it in some areas. But when do we say when we let one PUD in, and we have 10 other PUDs come in . . . .Where do we say enough is enough?”

White said everyone has a constitutional right to do what they want with their land. Compared to municipalities, counties are far more limited on what they can do with zoning. “

Everything we do, teetertotters on the verge of violating someone’s constitutional rights,” White said. White said there are some developments the County cannot stop if all the requirements are met.

“What we can do is monitor growth,” White said. He said when he started this job 13 years ago, the zoning ordinance handbook was 125 pages. Now, it’s 450 pages as they have made adjustments to it every year.”

White cited the example of the Vanderbilt University solar farm that was put in the middle of the City and County’s joint industrial area just off U.S. 231 North.

“So, you’re spending taxpayers’ money thinking that we’re going to have industrial development and all of the sudden someone wants to put in a solar farm that has no jobs that come with it. I’m not saying it’s a negative thing, but sometimes it is a negative when you look at the big picture,” White said. “So, we have to react to it.”

The County is in the early stages of updating their 20-year land use plan and White encouraged residents to attend the workshop meetings when they are announced.

“If you have good ideas, we want to hear those ideas,” he said. “In that way, we’re not letting growth dictate who we are; we’re going to dictate the growth ourselves.”

Longview PUD

At the start of the meeting, Threet apologized for failing to make a motion to send an unfavorable recommendation to the Rules and Legislative Committee regarding the PUD on Longview Road in Unionville.

The Longview PUD proposes 127 houses on 115 acres of land. At the last planning and zoning meeting on April 26, the motion for a favorable recommendation failed with 5 commissioners voting against the zoning change and 4 voting for it. No motion was then made to send the next committee an unfavorable recommendation.

Addressing a crowd of Unionville residents, Threet said, “Basically, it’s going to have to come back up at the next meeting, and I apologize to y’all because I know y’all made an effort to get here . . . .”

White told the T-G, “This is our first PUD application so we’re doing our best to provide sound advice on a procedure which is different from any other procedure we offer, and one in which we’ve never thus practiced. At this point, I think it makes sense to throttle this thing back down and move forward more deliberately and with more information.”

PUD development rezoning will be further discussed and voted on by the planning commission at its June 28 meeting at 7 p.m., at 200 Dover St. in Shelbyville.

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