83-home Tollgate plat denied by Thompson’s Station planners

83-home Tollgate plat denied by Thompson’s Station planners

The Thompson’s Station Municipal Planning Commission on Tuesday denied a preliminary plat that would have created 83 single-family lots at Tollgate Village because “its setbacks and lot widths were not in compliance with the town’s zoning ordinance.”

The Thompson’s Station Municipal Planning Commission Tuesday denied a preliminary plat that would have created 83 single-family lots at Tollgate Village because “its setbacks and lot widths were not in compliance with the town’s zoning ordinance.”

In a unanimous vote, commissioners denied the plat after about an hour of discussion with representatives of the firm of Ragan-Smith in Nashville.

“Staff has several concerns with this plat,” said Town Planner Wendy Deats.

“They are proposing several lots for which we have seen no slope analysis. We met with the applicant today and they have the slope analysis ready this evening. But any grade over 25 percent is not developable, and our ordinance categorizes those from 15 to 25 percent as critical lots, which must receive engineered footings for building permits.”

Further concerns included the failure to meet the town’s Subdivision Standard of minimum 50-foot lot widths, front yard setbacks that were also too small, and insufficient side-yard setbacks. The town rule for side yards is 7.5 feet.

“The applicant is requesting a review to allow some lot widths as small as 39 feet. Several would be under 50. The new zoning standards were adopted last fall, and this is one of the first plats to move forward with the new requirements.”

Deats said that among the changes affecting the Tollgate plat, the side-yard setback has for some time been listed at five feet, the actual width of many side yards at existing homes in Tollgate. Due to the range of staff concerns, Deats told the commission staff recommends they defer voting until May and give the applicant time to resubmit the plat.

Ragan-Smith CEO Bob Nichols and planner Brett Smith each spoke about the plat, which would have gone into the 15th phase of Tollgate, a Traditional Neighborhood Design subdivision that, until now, has enjoyed more latitude in commission votes. Smith has worked on TND neighborhoods in Franklin, as well as in North Carolina and Florida.

To alleviate staff concerns about sloping at the site, Smith showed commissioners an aerial slide made last summer showing the subdivision’s areas under construction to correct grades. Planning Chairman Jack Elder said based on a recent walk around the land on Monday, he agreed there were not many slope issues there.

Smith said he did not think it was fair for his client to alter the setbacks they have been using for the first 14 phases of Tollgate.

“The new setback requirements are not consistent with what has been built out there so far,” Smith said.

“Fifty feet is a suburban setback standard not consistent with a TND setback. We would like to request to continue with the same lot standard we’ve used from the 14 previous sections. We ask that you look at this plat to see if it is in keeping with the currently established neighborhood.”

But Commissioner Debra Bender said the plat contained far too many variations from the town’s subdivision code.

“I would like to see us stick to the 50-foot town code for front setbacks,” Bender said. “I would like to see more compliance with the side-yard codes as well.”

Smith said neighboring cities make allowances for TND neighborhoods regularly.

“Both Franklin and Nashville-Metro have sections for TND that allow for what has been happening to date at Tollgate. The purpose is to allow unique neighborhoods to develop. Tollgate is a demonstrated, successful product we have built, and we’d like to continue it. Changing these setbacks is going to completely change the character of the neighborhood, and we hear neighbors saying they want more of the same.”

Nichols said past Planning Commissions have treated Tollgate Village “essentially like a Planned Unit Development,” and said he wished the commissioners either to approve or deny the plat, rather than defer it.

“Prior to the town setting up its zoning, there was an intergovernmental agreement that made this development a PUD,” Nichols said.

“And a PUD is something which, by nature, violates subdivision standards because has its own standards, roadway widths, and lot widths. And those should be followed through the life of the project to establish continuity. We’ve been consistent with those in all 14 phases. We have probably three sections left to go. I guess you’re saying past commissioners shouldn’t have done it this way. I want to ask you tonight to either approve it or disapprove it. I don’t want to defer.”

At that, Bender moved to deny the plat, but Attorney Todd Moore pointed out that “for any denial, you will have to set out specific reasons for your denial in the motion.”

Deats said the main issues to note were how the plat’s setbacks and lot widths failed town code requirements, and Bender made a motion to that effect. The motion to deny passed unanimously.

Other business

A staff item to establish a bond for the Fields of Canterbury, Section 1B along its construction route was withdrawn. Deats said since the last meeting, the applicant found “they already have a bond in place for $100,000 with Synergy Banks. We will get a copy of that bond and update our records.”

A staff item to establish a bond for Allenwood for off-site improvements was approved unanimously after Deats’ explanation.

“This is a 13-unit site off Clayton Arnold Road. Staff agrees they need this to connect with a manhole in Bridgemore Village. The bond in the amount of $32,000 would go to repair damage to the manhole, and staff is recommending establishing it for one year with the option of automatic renewal.”

Staff writer Greg Jinkerson covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Contact him at greg@springhillhomepage.com or follow him on Twitter @springhillhmpg.

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