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