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Commission balks at policies for land purchases

Xavier Smith • Dec 18, 2017 at 9:36 PM

The Wilson County Commission proposed seven amendments to a resolution that ultimately failed and drew criticism from some commissioners who felt it targeted Wilson County Schools.

The resolution, as proposed, would have required any county entity that requested funding from the Wilson County Commission to purchase at least 10 acres and provide a geological study on 100 percent of the land, which would have been required to be performed by a licensed company not related to the project.

The entity would have also been required to provide identification on all blue line streams and cost estimates for cut and/or fill requirements, grave relocation or mitigation and utility relocation.

The commission approved two amendments that exclude projects that did not include a permanent building structure and required the seller to pay for the studies.

The commission did not pass amendments for a deferral for 30 days, deferral for 60 days, exclusion of Wilson County Schools, using general fund money to pay for studies and removing the 10-acre requirement.

“It has not come to the Education Committee, and I, personally, feel like this targeting the school board,” Commissioner Annette Stafford said at the start of the debate.

Commissioner Jeff Joines questioned what entities outside of the school system and the James E. Ward Agricultural Center has purchased more than 10 acres of land recently.

Resolution sponsor Commissioner Bobby Franklin said the resolution was not designed to target Wilson County Schools.

“I didn’t bring this to penalize the school system at all. I kind of take offense to that, to be honest,” said Franklin, who said the resolution was delayed because discussion on land the school system purchased on North Green Hills Road in Mt. Juliet for a new high school.

Franklin referenced Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright’s report that detailed the high number of housing developments planned in the county.

“You know those homes have taken up all the good land, so when we start buying land in Wilson County, it doesn’t matter if it’s the school system, the Ag Center, sheriff’s department or whoever, we’re not going to have pick of flat, nice land anymore. It’s going to be what’s left over,” Franklin said.

Joines said he believed the requirements should have been required for all building projects.

“We build fire halls on small tracts of land. We build stuff on small tracts of land, so it needs to be any and all. If we’re going to protect the taxpayer, let’s protect them,” said Joines, who disputed Franklin’s claim the requirements were unnecessary for small projects. “If we build a $2 million fire hall, that’s $2 million of taxpayer money, so that’s not worth protecting?”

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