The group approved an annexation and zoning and plan of services request from Ginger Dorris, Edward Bailey and Swingley and Smith for 266 acres of land at 6775 Hickory Ridge Road, 2385 Martha-Leeville Road, 780 Highway 109 N. and 6775 and unaddressed property on Hickory Ridge Road in the Leeville community.
The annexation request received scrutiny since it was first introduced last year, and residents continued their pushback against plans Tuesday night, as they voiced concerns about the annexations impact on traffic, infrastructure and schools.
“This development, coupled with other growth throughout the county, would be disruptive to the way of life these citizens have enjoyed for decades. To me, this is an issue that should be given serious consideration,” Wilson County Commissioner Jim Emberton, who noted the annexation and potential development would have a major impact on Wilson County Schools.
The district and county commissioners are in the midst of discussion surrounding a potential new high school in Mt. Juliet, estimated to cost $110 million. Wilson County finance director Aaron Maynard said any future construction would require new revenue sources, likely tax increases.
Ward 4 Councilor Chris Crowell, who represents the Leeville community within the city limits, was the lone “no” vote against the annexation and plan of service requests.
The council sent the requests back to the Lebanon Planning Commission in December due to concerns over the project.
City planner Richard Donovan said the worst-case scenario is the project would generate about $1,500 worth of property tax a year for the city, with an estimated cost to serve it just less than $1 million, resulting in a 621-year payoff.
Mike Wrye with Lose and Associates represented developers during the December meeting and disputed the figures, noting they did not take into consideration potential fees and sales-tax revenue during and after construction.
The debate continued into the December planning commission meeting.
Will Hager with Lose and Associates represented the developers and said the group felt the area was a good location due to the proximity of State Route 109 and Interstate 40.
Brian Willis, a Hickory Ridge Road resident, said the group should consider the congestion residents already deal with relative to State Route 109 and Interstate 40. He said most homes in the historic area of Hickory Ridge are 2-5 acres, and this development would bring homes that are potentially 10 feet apart and would change the integrity of their neighborhood.
The city planning staff recommended the council deny the request based on the financial risk of the development and distance from city utilities.