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MJ Commission approves 1-million-square-foot warehouse

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Laurie Everett/The Wilson Post Hunting Hills resident Lori Peek gives one last plea to oppose a warehouse near her neighborhood during Monday's city commission meeting where commissioners voted to approve the project.

Beckwith North finally gets nod

Despite six months of protest from neighbors and their recently rejected private "counter offer" concession to developers, Mt. Juliet city commissioners approved a 1-million-square-foot warehouse near an established West Wilson neighborhood on final reading Monday night.

The approval came with an amendment with multiple modifications to the project commissioners said would help "screen the warehouse" from neighbors.

"Obviously we are very disappointed," said resident David Plott. "It's a sad day. But I guess it shows that it's possible to stand up against the city in some way and not just lay down and give up."

He said their attorney, Jim White, will continue to research possible further steps to protect the neighborhood, and Panattoni developer Hayne Hamilton said he "will continue to work with the neighbors as we proceed."

"We do not have a time table to start," Hamilton said Thursday morning. "For now there is no schedule. We will continue to communicate and work with the neighborhood group as well, and appreciated the time, input and energy from that group."

Six-month process

It's been a contentious process that finally resulted in a 4-1 vote - with Commissioner Ray Justice voting nay - with several amendments Monday night to approve the warehouse that will set on 55 acres near an established neighborhood on Hunting Hills drive near Mt. Juliet.

On final reading there were several modifications the developer said would reduce a negative impact on the neighborhood.

Resident Jerry McKenzie said the changes made to the overall project "were not satisfactory."

"But, I guess it's better than it would have been if we had not protested all these months," he said.

Project to move forward

Panattoni now has approval to rezone the 55 acres to build a million-square-foot warehouse for an undisclosed tenant. The project was bandied back and forth between city planners and the city commission for months with neighbors galvanized against the project they said would be an "encroachment" that would devalue their homes and way of life.

The final decision was made Monday by commissioners on the heels of last week's city planning commission's 6-2 vote to approve a change to the land use amendment that would allow the project.

Neighbors' counter offer

Neighbors did offer a "counter" to Panattoni, with suggestions on how they could live with the proposed project as a last resort.

In a letter dated July 8, 2015, attorney Tom White offered a concession. The neighbors suggested the western part of the property be used in part as an "office park (with parking).

"The office park can be developed by Panattoni as a free-standing office space for the warehouse." And, the offer suggested the warehouse be scaled down.

"We were told by the Hamiltons at the next meeting with them, after submitting the offer to them, that an office park would not work, but they were looking at residential options when their grading contractor told them that because our proposal would require them to move the same amount of earth as the original, it was not feasible," Plott said.

Concessions by developer

In response, commissioners approved the project with several amendments approved unanimously that include:

    • Warehouse 540 feet away from western property line

    • An 11-home pre-blast study

    • A 25-foot berm with a double row of Cypress trees that will be a 40-foot high screen from neighbors

    • Maintenance of landscaping and berm

    • Trees maintained, and planted by time of construction

    • No driveway access to Hunting Hills Drive

    • Security fence around entire facility

    • "Downward" lighting at the facility

Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at laurieeverett1@gmail.com

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#development, #WCBusiness, Hunting Hills, Mt. Juliet, Mt. Juliet Planning Commission, Panattoni, warehouse
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