Warehouse approved near Hunting Hills neighborhood
The near year-long contentious battle between vocal Mt. Juliet neighbors versus a big developer ended last week when the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission voted to approve a final master development plan for a warehouse at Beckwith North.
Developer Panattoni eventually won the dual that took place at both the city and planning commissions, with some concessions.
Over the year, more than a dozen residents who live on Hunting Hills Drive packed chambers to convince members of the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission to vote against Beckwith North, a 1-million-square-foot facility (there is not client commitment to date) on 55.76 acres proposed near Under Armour on Eastgate Boulevard. Federal Express is also in the vicinity of the industrial park that is adjacent to Hunting Hills Drive.
However, the standoff has ended.
"We knew this would end up this way," said Debbie Plott, a vocal neighbor who isn't directly affected by the soon-to-be warehouse overlooking much of her neighborhood.
"But we won't stop being a watchman over the project and make sure they do what they say," she said.
Also watching will be resident Jerry McKenzie who has lived on Hunting Hills Drive, on the cusp of the planned facility, for more than 20 years, in a 3,500-square-foot home.
Cindy and John Zoesch also live nearby. They contend Panattoni had not fulfilled initial promises to maintain the property while negotiations continued.
However, planning chair Luke Winchester listened when Panattoni representatives said while they planned to begin planting "cover" trees within six months on closing on the property, it was too late in the season and the trees would have died. Those cover trees are being planted now, he said. He added things are being done to the letter.
Planner Art Giles, who is Mt. Juliet's District 3's commissioner on the planning commission, came to the defense of the neighbors before the final vote and made sure the neighbors will at least be forewarned of blasting related to the project five days in advance.
Also, the footprint of the upcoming building was reduced to 850,000 square feet, from 1 million square feet, with a retention pond promised to help reduce water runoff. And a camouflage berm to help reconcile the huge facility for neighbors was supposed to be 25 feet, versus 15.
"It's a done deal," Plott said in resignation. "It's destroyed the integrity of this 40-year-old neighborhood. Who wants a mammoth warehouse as a neighbor?"
She said the whole issue "boils her pot," but she said she's fought the fight and will continue to be a watchdog on the project.
"I represent the citizens of Mt. Juliet," Giles said. "We did what we could to make sure the project was as conducive and harmonic with the neighbors that we could. I always want to heed comments of citizens. We got some restrictions. "
Plott, speaking for her neighbors in some respect, said it was at least satisfying members of Panattoni were "taken to task" a bit during the process, and comments made at the final meeting vote "made us feel like people understood."
City officials indicated when all things are dotted and crossed, construction on the site would begin soon.
Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.