The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners approved the first reading of the proposed Station North, a transit-oriented development plan. The development would be located adjacent to the Mt. Juliet train station. The plan passed 3-2 with Commissioners Art Giles and Brian Abston voting against.
According to the developers, Image1 Company, the plan proposes two four-story buildings that would include apartments, commercial property, and townhomes and would total around 220 units.
Matt Gardner, one of the developers at Image1, said the apartments would include studio, one- and two-bedrooms. Though they are still in the conceptual stage, he said, the 561-square-foot studio would rent for around $1,100 per month and the townhomes could rent for up to $3,000.
Some residents also came out to the meeting to voice their opposition to the proposed plan. One man who lives in Oak Hall was worried about the added traffic that would come from the apartments because his neighborhood is hard enough to get out of. Another man was concerned about added traffic to Clemmons Road.
When the developers presented their plan at a Community Development meeting Friday morning, about half in attendance seemed to like the idea of the transit-oriented development.
Going into the meeting, the commissioners also seemed evenly split on the development. Giles and Abston have told the board and their constituents they are against more apartments, while Mayor Ed Hagerty and Vice Mayor James Maness were more open to the idea. Commissioner Ray Justice ended up being the swing vote.
During the lengthy discussion, each commissioner addressed concerns and expectations of the property.
Abston said the idea of it being a transit-oriented development was just a myth and that people are “drinking the Kool-Aid” about a supposed new, unique apartment complex. However, he said he understands why local businesses would be interested in the new residents.
He also said he had issues with the developer’s waivers. Instead of adding a playground to the plan, they would have a dog park. He said another waiver would change the commercial space from 10 percent to 1.42 percent, which the commission faced before with Meridian at Providence apartments.
Abston said because there are other things to work on in Mt. Juliet before adding more apartments, the commission should table the item.
Giles said he echoed Abston’s sentiments, adding that the development is in the middle of his district. He said every constituent he spoke to about it, except for one, has been against the plan. Because he wants to be the voice of his constituents, he said he has no intention of voting to approve the plan.
Hagerty said that every new development has pros and cons and some of Abston’s comments were cons. However, the land is currently zoned for an industrial building, so in the future a building could go there that will detract from the aesthetics of the heart of Mt. Juliet.
He also said unlike some of the increasing number of rental homes in the area, the development will be maintained.
“In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons,” said Hagerty.
Maness said that though they hear about new apartment developments nearly every month, the vast majority of them are quickly rejected. He said he sees how the industrial zoning could lead to unfavorable possibilities in the future if this plan is not approved.
Justice said his main concern was the traffic and would like studies done on what the impact might be for North Mt. Juliet should the plan pass. He also wanted fencing along the train tracks to help avoid any tragic accidents.
Justice agreed with Abston about the commercial aspect of the property and said the percentage of commercial space should be brought up to 10 percent.
If the plan is approved, Hagerty said he does not want any construction traffic on Mt. Juliet Road; they will have to use Golden Bear Gateway.
The second reading for the Station North plan is scheduled for a later date. If passed, Gardner said they are anticipating construction by the end of the year. The units would begin selling 18 months after construction begins.