2008 Land Use Plan

This is a serious issue. The proposed new Land Use Plan represents a dramatic change of policy.

Former City Planner Bobby Franklin explains:

The current Mt. Juliet Land Use Plan under consideration is a U-turn from the previous eight years of Planning and City Commission policy. If adopted, it would set Mt. Juliet on a course toward becoming Antioch. The policy of the previous 8 years had been to pursue a Brentwood / Franklin model. The policy of the previous eight years was responsible for doubling the average selling price of residential homes in Mt. Juliet. The new, proposed policy is likely to lower property values.

Most people have forgotten that in 2000 the average residential sale price in Mt. Juliet was about 5000 dollars less than in Antioch. That’s right, hard to believe isn’t it? In fact there were many developers and realtors in Mt. Juliet back in 2001 quite content with becoming Antioch.

Kevin Mack had a vision back then to become an “edge city” more like Brentwood and Franklin instead. Mack and Hagerty worked to raise building standards and lower density with a Land Use Plan update. Eighty percent of land became Low-Density Residential requiring a minimum of 40,000 square foot lots. A developer had to build a Planned Unit Development to have smaller lots – and that is what happened.

The advantage to the city in this was the ability to force more infrastructure costs to the developer in exchange for smaller lots. The developer had to build amenities too. Homeowner Associations were required to pay for recurring expenses and maintenance. This shifted the burden away from the existing Mt. Juliet taxpayer to the people who were moving in. Developers incurred more costs but built at higher value and sold for higher prices. This reduced the taxpayer subsidy of growth while increasing existing property values.

The formula worked so well Mt. Juliet became the hottest residential market in Middle Tennessee. Property values soared. The new proposed Land Use Plan will throw all of the accomplishments of the past eight years away.

The new Moderate Density Land Use area being considered encompasses about eighty percent of the land area here. It almost completely replaces the Low Density area in the present Land Use Plan. Here is what can be built in the new “Moderate Density”: moderate-density-is-everywhere

“Maximum Permitted Density Range – 2.18 to 4.36 units per acre, Single-family houses, attached homes, and duplexes 6,000 SF- base zone – 4,000 SF if Conservation Development is used.”

I can assure you that no developer will be pursuing a Planned Unit Development approval in the Moderate Density Area. That means the city will not be able to shift the burden of infrastructure maintenance, or amenity costs to the developer. The developer will be able to build smaller, less expensive housing that can be quickly built and sold. The existing Mt. Juliet resident will pick up more expense to support housing stock that will ultimately lower existing home values. But don’t take my word for it – the new plan comes right out and says we need to lower home values in Mt. Juliet – in order to make housing more affordable! This is from the plan summary:

“This update also underscores a trend with respect to the availability of reasonably affordable housing and housing choice. The pattern of new development not only in Mt. Juliet but elsewhere is for land and construction costs to continue to escalate creating a growing trend for smaller lots and more expensive homes. This phenomenon increasingly creates an economic climate that limits access into the local housing market and fosters an environment whereby “you can work here but you can’t live here.” This situation requires careful attention and serious efforts to ensure a viable, diverse and reasonably affordable housing stock for the community.”

I, for one, think this is a horrible idea. It represents a departure from the winning model that made this city such a successful real estate market from 2002 through 2007.

No one I talk to wants the city to become Antioch anymore. Why does city staff?

– Bobby Franklin


2 responses to “2008 Land Use Plan

  1. Paul Deyo

    It would be inappropriate for me to weigh in on the Land Use Plan as a whole until the Planning Commission reviews it publicly on October 23rd at 6pm at City Hall. However I will make a couple of historical observations.

    I was part of the group which included Vice-mayor Hagerty and John Birdsong as well as staff, who worked on the 2001 Land Use Plan. I think it may have taken until 2002 to implement it as the changes we made encountered so much opposition to change. At the time the principal focus was on changing the existing residential model that State Planning Adviser Ron Cooper described as being ‘very developer friendly’. Almost nothing was changed along current and anticipated commercial thoroughfares. Later, minor changes were made in those locations.

    I feel the result with that residential model has been a success. It was the blueprint upon which Stonehollow, Cobblestone Landing and several other new subdivisions were created. Normandy Heights and Providence were re-designed and vastly improved. Subdivisions such as Kelsey Glen and Hickory West now beginning construction will be a complement to the city. Amenities included in these Planned Unit Developments have helped to make up for a deficiency in public park facilities.

    This higher quality growth made Mt. Juliet a desirable choice for retail and now we have real choices to purchase everything in Mount Juliet, with more on the way. In 1999, the giant sucking sound everyone heard was all of our sales tax dollars going into Davidson County while our kids all went to Wilson County schools supported with our property taxes.

    Housing options that we are deemed to be deficient in exist as resale properties or are just across the county line. I certainly see nothing wrong with someone living in Hermitage and working and shopping in Mt. Juliet. To me that is a win and an exact reversal of what was true eight years ago.

  2. Paul Deyo

    The special meeting that will deal with the Land Use Plan has been rescheduled for Tuesday October 28th at 7pm.

    Comments from all citizens will be allowed and limited to three minutes per person. I always encourage like-minded groups to choose a spokesperson, in which case I will poll the room for raised hands.

    The residential and commmercial portions will be considered separately.

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