|County commission rejects UGB|
|Tuesday, July 17, 2012|
Special to The Chronicle
Wilson County Commission voted to deny the new Urban Growth Boundary Plan Monday night, which has already been approved at least once by all three municipalities, due to a resident’s request for his neighborhood to be excluded from Lebanon’s growth boundary.
L.E. McCluskey spoke at a public hearing held prior to the regular commission meeting, asking commissioners to consider removing the homes off Oriole Drive and Mockingbird Lane, north of Lebanon, from the city’s growth boundary.
According to McCluskey, the 28 property owners in the area were told in 2000 that they would not be within Lebanon’s growth boundary plan.
“I was told by then Mayor Don Fox and City Councilor Judge (Haywood) Barry that we were not in the boundary, but it was a shock to me to find out we are,” McCluskey said.
The last Urban Growth Boundary Plan was approved by all local governments and by the state in 2001. Mt. Juliet officials in 2011 requested that the growth coordinating committee be reconvened so as to change that city’s growth boundary plans.
The committee has been working on new boundaries in negotiations with all three cities and Wilson County since October 2011. The current plan has been approved on resolution by both Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, which require only one reading. Watertown has passed the new plan by an ordinance on first reading but must pass it once more on second reading.
Wilson County Planning Director Tom Brashear said the growth boundaries are a 20-year plan that does not guarantee any property within the boundaries will be annexed by the municipalities, but does give them the option to do so in the future.
District 17 Commissioner Gary Keith, who represents the area in question, asked fellow squires to remove the neighborhood from the growth boundary, given that they believed they were left out of the boundary 10 years ago.
“I’d ask to amend this resolution to delete this section,” Keith said.
But County Attorney Mike Jennings said the commission couldn’t amend the growth plan and then approve it as amended. It has to return to the growth coordinating committee as a whole.
“You have to deny all of it and send it back with that recommendation,” Jennings said.
Brashear explained that if the plan was denied, the squires have to submit some recommendation or guidance to the growth coordinating committee. However, some squires were weary about sending the plan back to committee for such a small area.
District 13 Commissioner Clint Thomas said he didn’t want to send it back because of the hard work already put in by the committee and local representatives from Mt. Juliet to adjust their growth boundaries.
The largest proposed expansion of growth boundaries occurs south of Mt. Juliet, extending the city’s growth boundaries as far south as Stewarts Ferry Pike. Thomas said if the committee has a chance to look at the plan again, he sees changes being made in those areas.
“If we send it back, I see things changing and we’ve worked hard to get things changed in Mt. Juliet,” Thomas said.
But Keith was adamant about removing the neighborhood north of Lebanon from within the growth boundary. “We look at it and ask questions, we don’t rubber stamp anything,” he said.
Brashear said the committee has done excellent work in negotiating with all three municipalities on their growth boundaries, indicating the current map is far from the original proposal by Mt. Juliet that would have had even more land within its growth boundaries.
“Through negotiation it’s been trimmed back quite a bit and I don’t think the citizens of Gladeville are as worried,” Brashear said.
County Mayor Randall Hutto made sure the squires knew the neighborhood is currently within the growth boundary and has been for the past 10 years. The changing of the boundaries by the current growth committee did not place the neighborhood into the boundary.
Hutto said since Mt. Juliet and Watertown’s boundaries are not affected he expects those two municipalities to approve the plan after the growth coordinating committee accepts the commission’s recommendation to remove the neighborhood or not.
“The ball would be in the City of Lebanon’s court,” Hutto said.
Brashear said the growth coordinating committee would have to call another meeting now that the plan has been denied. He said since they are not a standing committee, they do not have a set meeting schedule.
“They did their work in the allotted time after being called together in October and probably thought they had completed their work, but they’ll have to reconvene,” Brashear said.
Also during the meeting, the commission deferred a resolution back to the Budget Committee that would have authorized the county to fund the construction of the new Mt. Juliet fire station in the Providence area.
The resolution called for the county to issue general obligation capital outlay notes in the amount not to exceed $1.55 million to build the station, and would have the City of Mt. Juliet repaying that amount over time.
The city would pay the county $650,000 by making a yearly payment of $31,140.31 amortized over 35 years. The city has already purchased land for the station. At this point, the city and county are still working out plans of how to staff the fire station once it’s built.
Two proposals are currently on the table that would either have Mt. Juliet fully funding the staff and equipment at the station, while the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency continues to staff Station 3 in Mt. Juliet, or have the city pay salaries for personnel at the new station, while the county pays all other costs.