PHOTO: U-Haul Nashville’s president Jeff Porter stands before the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Alderman during his appeal of the city’s previous denial of his sketch plan. // Photo courtesy of the city of Spring Hill
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
The U-Haul storage and truck rental facility that is proposed to be built on the southern corner Main Street and Miles Johnson Parkway has been been temporarily halted again after the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously voted to uphold its previous denial for sketch plan review Monday night.
The project has faced huge backlash from the community. Residents who have spoken not only have aesthetic concerns of having a large truck rental facility constructed on such a highly visible piece of real estate, but safety concerns, citing its proximity to Harvey Park, a frequently visited spot by city residents and children.
Last month, city staff had denied U-Haul’s request for sketch plan review, citing numerous failures to meet listed conditions of approval. President of U-Haul Nashville, Jeff Porter, had decided to appeal the decision rather than submit a modified sketch plan, arguing that per the city’s own writing, conditions of approval are not required to be met in a sketch plan, but rather a site plan.
Alderman Matt Fitterer, who has previously called the proposed U-Haul a “terrible project,” said that Porter’s position would be accurate if he were referencing conditions of approval as required in the planning documents, but that the city’s denial was due to conditions of approval as required by the particular plats of land that U-Haul wishes to develop on.
Nevertheless, Porter and U-Haul decided to pursue the appeal Monday night, hoping to continue the project.
“My interpretation of the sketch plan, is a sketch plan is a general concept – an idea – and I feel like we’ve tried to provide the general concept idea of what we wanted to pursue at the Miles Johnson location,” Porter said during the meeting. “That’s really all I wanted to say. I want the opportunity to go back, further address the comments, and provide something that the city will want to approve at that location.”
Mayor Rick Graham clarified to Porter that the denial, again, was due to not meeting conditions of approval as required by the plats of land, not the design documents themselves.
Porter also commented on his frustration with the process, saying as U-Haul continued to update its project to meet the city’s request, new requests would continue to pour in.
“Every time we’ve submitted, there’s been comments that came back and we’ve addressed [those], but every time we come back, there’s more comments that need to be addressed,” Porter said. “How can we sufficiently provide a sketch plan when the comments constantly keep changing and we have to address them?”
Despite Porter’s concerns, city staff unanimously denied U-Haul’s appeal, putting the project’s future up in the air.
The project was submitted to the city prior to the passing of the city’s unified development code, meaning it previously had to only adhere to the city’s past zoning ordinances. Now that the project’s sketch plan has been denied, any new sketch plan would need to be altered to adhere to the city’s new zoning ordinances. In this particular case, it would mean the facility could no longer provide truck rentals.
“Right now it’s kind of up in the air,” Porter said. “I could resubmit, but it would have to be under the new zoning code. The only really big difference would be the truck rental aspect of it. Storage is still allowed, everything else is still allowed, just wouldn’t be able to rent trucks.
I think right now we’re just reviewing all of our options and seeing what the best option for us is, and we don’t have that in mind right now.”