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Council approves Cumberland donation

Xavier Smith • Apr 3, 2018 at 7:49 PM

The Lebanon City Council approved a donation to Cumberland University on Tuesday to kick-start a potential mixed-used development near the university.

The group agreed to donate $850,000 to the university for a development that would feature student housing and retail space, dubbed Cumberland Corner, despite hesitance from some city leaders.

The council unanimously approved the donation, although Councilor Fred Burton and Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash voiced concerns about different aspects of the move. Burton voiced concerns about the city’s legal ability to donate the funds, while Ash raised concerns about the amount of the donation, which he said is about four times the city’s donation budget.

Council Rob Cesternino dispelled concerns about the donation, stating the city could make changes about the donation dependent upon the state comptroller’s office opinion about the donation. He also said the $850,000 donation was more of an “investment” since the city would likely see a return on its investment with the donation.

The donation would assist Cumberland in purchasing nine properties adjacent to campus along South Greenwood Avenue, most of which feature dilapidated or vacant lots. If Cumberland fails to finish construction of Cumberland Corner within 48 months of the donation, it would be required to return the donation to the city.

The group also approved the implementation of the South Hartmann Gateway Study into the city’s future land use plan and major thoroughfare plan. The city will also use the study as a guide for development along the corridor.

The study, which covered South Hartmann Drive from West Main Street to Highway 231, includes about 3,000 acres of land directly attached to or close to South Hartmann Drive.

The study was a joint effort between city staff, residents and business and property owners to determine the most viable and desired future of the corridor. The study identified the desired future land use and transportation connections, greenway space, economic, development scenarios and more.

Development areas were conceptualized for two specific areas of the South Hartmann Gateway.

The north scenario near Lebanon High School depicts concepts of mixed-use town center and mixed housing land uses. These areas are part of a Leeville Pike lifestyle development node for the gateway.

The south scenario south of Interstate 40 depicts mixed-use town center, mixed housing, suburban office and residential land uses. These areas are part of the I-40 business interchange development node.

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