The Clarksville City Council approved the first of two readings of a rezoning application that cleared the way for a large housing development on the western side of Old Russellville Pike and south of Dunbar Cave Road.
The development planned for the 111 acres would eventually include 148 townhomes or condominiums and another 165 single-family homes, according to Bryce Powers, an agent with Greenspace Partners who is working on the application.
On Jan. 7, there were 11 of the 13 council members who voted in favor of the development, despite multiple emails and a petition of more than 250 nearby residents who opposed it.
Councilwomen Wanda Allen and Karen Reynolds voted against the rezoning request.
An application of L.C. Simpson and also Norma S. Jones, with agent Greenspace, applied to rezone the land near near houses across from Fantasy Lane and Candlewood Drive.
The acreage is bordered by the Red River and the R.J. Corman Railroad line on the west and northwest sides of the land. There is a rock quarry on the site, which would have a fence built around it, according to developers.
The rezoning, if approved in February, would change from two zones, general industrial district and single-family residential district, to single-family residential and also residential.
A 30-foot buffer would be placed between Old Russellville Road and the development. There would be 65-acres left undeveloped, according to Powers. The townhomes would be owner-occupied.
“These will be financed as single-family homes,” Powers said. “They are not apartments, and they are not allowed to be rented.”
David Winters, a property owner near the proposed development, spoke against the rezoning during a Jan. 7 public hearing. He said Old Russellville Pike is already an overloaded bottleneck with no means of relief.
“The terms townhome, rooftops and infill will here be collectively referred to as sardine-can housing,” Winters said. “Rezoning for townhome-style housing like this near the end of Old Russellville Pike would demonstrate bad planning and much worse, no planning at all.”
Councilwoman Stacey Streetman said with the current zone containing a manufacturing-zoned district, she felt traffic from added housing would be more appreciated than additional trucks from industry that could result in the future.
“It is my recommendation we vote to approve this zoning request,” Streetman said.
Reynolds, who represents Ward 9 that includes the proposed rezoning, said the city council needs to work with the developers and the community to ensure the safety of its residents as the city continues to grow.
“I think we need to look at what we are doing along some of these older roads and possibly expand them before the builders come in,” Reynolds said.
Potential ethics violation raised
One speaker at the public hearing said he was troubled Syd Hedrick, the listing agent on the property, sits on the city’s land-use committee and Powers, with Greenspace, is a member of the Regional Planning Commission.
Both gentlemen spoke in favor of the rezoning during the council’s public hearing.
The speaker said that no employee should have a role that conflicts with their duties or responsibilities.
To explain the code further, city attorney Lance Baker read from city code.
“Employees, in the context of this chapter, includes all full-time and part-time elected or appointed officials and employees, whether compensated or not, including those of any separate board, council, commission, committee, authority, corporation or other instrumentality appointed or created by the city.”
First, concerning Powers, Baker said the RPC is a legally separate entity from the city.
In relation to Hedrick, “[The land-use committee] is a city-created advisory commission,” Baker said. “The ethics code does apply to those people. That is not to say [Hedrick] has committed any kind of ethics violation. He has a right, like any other citizen, to come before this body and ask for a rezoning of property. All I’m saying is that the ethics code does apply to him in his role serving on that board.”
Allen said she was undecided about the rezoning request until she heard the charge.
“Ethics is the biggest thing to me, so for that purpose, I will be voting this down,” Allen said.
Streetman reminded the council that Powers abstained from voting on the issue during the planning commission’s meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Richard Garrett, the councilman who represents Ward 1, said with regard to Hedrick, there was no ethical violation.
“The land advisory committee does not deal with rezoning,” Garrett stated. “It would be different if he was sitting up here, and it came before us, and then he voted on it. Then, it would be considered an ethics violation.”
The rezoning was adopted upon first reading. The second reading is scheduled for February.