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MJ Sr. Center to get donated facility

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Developer to include it in residential complex
The Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center's dream home is on the way, thanks to a plan revealed Thursday night at the city Planning Commission's October meeting. The commissioners unanimously recommended the plan for approval by the City Commission, possibly at the City Commission's upcoming meeting next Monday night, Oct. 27.

Center Director Linda McClanahan told the Planning Commission that when she placed an advertisement in a local paper for five acres near Mt. Juliet's Town Center district to construct a new building for the Senior Activity Center, she didn't expect what happened next.

Developer Darrell Crawford called her and offered a plan that would include the new senior center in a senior living complex at no cost to the Senior Activity Center, she said.

Center needs elbow room
The offer couldn't have come at a more fortuitous time for the center, which is feeling the cramp of operating in space it is rapidly outgrowing in its current facility on North Mt. Juliet Road.

"We have over 100 programs and 729 members," McClanahan said. "We had plans for an 18,000-square-foot building, all on one level."

The plans Crawford submitted to the Planning Commission Thursday night call for a slightly larger building than McClanahan described that would be the center of a proposed senior living complex at the north end of South Old Mt. Juliet Road - a short street that turns north from Old Lebanon Dirt Road a few blocks west of North Mt. Juliet Road.

Senior living complex planned
The complex, which would be called Crawford Senior Living, would include 11 duplex villas, two three-story independent living buildings, and one two-story assisted living building for a total of 268 living spaces, according to the preliminary master development plan Crawford presented to the commission.

The new home of the Senior Activity Center would be only a few hundred yards downstream on Stoner Creek from the senior center's current facility, and a walking bridge over the creek already connects South Old Mt. Juliet Road with the Town Center district and the Music City Star train station.

The associated Crawford Senior Living complex would comprise over 19 acres, extending west from South Old Mt. Juliet Road toward Julie Drive. South Old Mt. Juliet Road currently is only 20 feet wide. But Crawford told the commission he plans to widen it to 26 feet and include a bicycle lane on the west side; build turn lanes from Old Lebanon Dirt Road onto South Old Mt. Juliet; and perform whatever repairs are needed to make the walking bridge over Stoner Creek safe and functional.

Large crowd supports project
A capacity crowd attended the Planning Commission meeting, almost all of whom were there in support of the proposed new senior center.

Several seniors and their family members also spoke in favor of the project, including Dot Burke and her daughter Trish Mundy, the widow of Mt. Juliet Police Sgt. Jerry Mundy, who was killed in the line of duty.

Burke said the center saved her life. "Two years ago, my husband of 58 years died," she said. "I didn't know what to do, but my daughter took me to the center, and it saved my life." She said that not only did the center give her things to do, it helped her meet other women in similar situations.

"This center prolonged my life," she concluded.

Then Mundy came to the microphone. She said when she needed to return to work after her father's death, she was worried about leaving her mother alone to grieve.

"So we went to the center. Now I don't know where she is half the time," Mundy quipped, because her mom is busy enjoying all the trips and activities of the Senior Activity Center.

New jobs, greenway are factors
Also speaking in favor of the development was Patricia Sheabell, who said she had checked and the new center's entrance would be 2,147 feet from the train station, "in easy walking distance" over the Stoner Creek footbridge. And she added that the living facilities planned by Crawford "will create 40 to 60 new jobs."

Neighbors on Julie Drive asked whether there would be access to the planned greenway along Stoner Creek. Amy Ellison, whose yard touches the right-of-way for the greenway, wanted to know if there would be a barrier between her yard and the trail.

"Or should I just wave to them from my back porch?" she asked with chuckle.

Then her neighbor Oakley Mckinney told the commission that he, for one, would like to have access to the trail and asked the Planning Commission to consider extending it to Julie Drive.

"Oakley, you know you can cross my yard anytime," Ellison quipped to him.
Also responding to Mckinney, Planning Commission Chair Luke Winchester said that the trail will eventually be extended as part of the city's greenways plan.

Flooding problems addressed
Meanwhile, one potential problem also was addressed during the discussion. District 3 County Commissioner Bobby Franklin, a former Mt. Juliet city planner, warned the Planning Commission to make sure Crawford is aware of potential flooding on the site.

It's in Stoner Creek's flood plain, according to Franklin, who added that 10 years ago he crossed the property in a boat during a flood.

However, current City Planner Bo Logan said that issue has been addressed by flooding remediation on Stoner Creek, the inclusion of detention ponds in the Crawford Senior Living master plan, and the greenway and passive park all along the creek bank.

The Planning Commission then unanimously voted to recommend the project to the City Commission, with one amendment - requiring that the complex remain a 55-and-older community, even if it is later sold.

Premier Dodge, Carrick Glen gain final approvals
Plans for a new senior center weren't the only issues addressed Thursday night by the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission, which also took final actions on two major developments that made news earlier this year.

One action was approving the final plat for Premier Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep on Pleasant Grove Road, Mt. Juliet's second new car dealership, which is expected to bring both ripple-effect customers and additional sales tax revenues to the city.

The dealership's eight acres were even purchased from the City of Mt. Juliet, and the City Commission gave its approval to the site's final master development plan earlier this summer.

The Planning Commission brought a second news-making development to a conclusion Thursday night when it approved an amended final master development plan for Carrick Glen for a "memory care center" serving patients with Alzheimer's and other memory disorders.

The new plan calls for no second entrance from the center onto a 90-degree turn of Rutland Road, which had prompted objections from the proposed facility's neighbors.

All traffic for the memory care center will enter through Carrick Glen's current drive, which turns off a straighter section of Rutland Road.

Contact Connie Esh at cewrites@yahoo.com

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