PHOTO: A partially constructed home in Tollgate Village. / Photo by Matt Blois
UPDATE: This story was updated with information about 144 homes the developer agreed to remove from the plan. Those areas in the plan will be reserved for commercial space.
By MATT BLOIS
Spring Hill’s planning commission approved an initial plan to build 624 multi family units at its meeting on Monday. The development, located at the intersection of Old Kedron Road and Reserve Boulevard, would also include pools, a community garden, a playground and a dog park.
The recommendation for that plan came with a long list of comments from city staff. Those comments laid out when the city expects certain road improvement projects to be completed. The developer, John Maher Builders, will have to address those comments before getting any permits. A report from city staff says that the developer has already addressed many of city’s comments on previous versions of the plan.
The property is zoned as a central business district which does allow multi family housing developments as well as many commercial uses. Part of the plan shows some areas that would be set aside for commercial uses.
According to the city’s comprehensive plan, which lays out a vision for the city’s future, the property is considered an innovation area. Those areas are supposed to be primarily used for the medical industry, technology or research centers. The staff report says that the project doesn’t match up with that plan.
During the meeting, Alderman Matt Fitterer said that he wanted to see more space dedicated for commercial use rather than residential use. The developer agreed to nix two phases of the project and set aside that space for commercial use. That brought the number of housing units down from 768 to 624.
During the public comment period, resident Harry King asked the commission to be cautious about recommending new housing because of the traffic it would cause. He wasn’t referring specifically to the Shadow Ridge project, but mentioned that the agenda included proposals to build more than 1,000 homes.
“Traffic just gets worse and worse,” he said. “I’d like to see the road construction sped up somehow.”
After the meeting, home builder John Maher said that people in Spring Hill should know that developers are trying to mitigate the traffic caused by new people moving into the city.
“We’re cognizant of the fact that there’s that perception,” he said. “I think the city’s done a good job of trying to find … situations where developers can help participate in major road projects.”
He pointed out that his company, along with several other private landowners, paid for the construction of Reserve Boulevard, which would serve the new housing project. He said that developers in the area are paying their fair share, and estimated that his company has to pay between $24,000 and $27,000 every time they get a building permit. He said some of that money goes to the city to improve roads, and some goes to the county.