Mt. Juliet's Hunting Hills residents who are protesting a proposed industrial warehouse near their neighborhood have retained legal counsel to fight the encroachment. And this week, they were invited to a special meeting hosted by the developer to hear further details about the project.
In a letter dated April 1, 2015, sent to some Hunting Hills residents from Panattoni's M. Hayne Hamilton, they were invited to a meeting at 6 p.m. on April 9 at the Hampton Inn in Mt. Juliet.
"As a resident of Hunting Hills Drive, I am writing you on behalf of Panattoni Development Company regarding the rezoning and annexation of the Woodroof Property located north of the cul-de-sac at [the] end of your street," says the letter sent to neighbor David Plott and others. "Through discussion with some of your neighbors as well as public comments, we know that some of you have concerns about the development activity to occur on that property."
Hamilton said the intent of the meeting was to, "allow for further discussion," provide more information, provide details about measures "that we are proposing to take to minimize the visual impact of the building from Hunting Hills," and to provide details about how they will try to minimize noise and light that would come from the property.
Despite negative recommendation, project goes before City Commission
For the past month about 40 residents on Hunting Hills have gathered forces to fight the Panatonni-developed 1-million-square-foot proposed warehouse on 55.76 acres near their long established neighborhood in the county. Dubbed Beckwith North, the proposed development is near Under Armour, and possibly more warehouses on that property, also near the neighborhood.
Recently, the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission voted 4-4 giving essentially a negative recommendation for the 23-acre main warehouse project. Panatonni's intent is to have the 55.76 acres rezoned to industrial and annexed into the city.
While there was a negative recommendation, the project will still go before the Mt. Juliet City Commission April 13 for their consideration.
Neighbors hire lawyer
Saturday, neighbors met for a second meeting to put together a plan of action. They agreed to hire attorney Jim White to protect their interests and formed Northwest Rutland Road and Neighborhood Association, according to resident Plott.
White said he was retained, "because of concerns they [residents] have about the proposed industrial development near their cul-de-sac, to protect their rights and to make sure any steps the city and the developer take are in compliance with the law and rights of the neighbors.
"Some have been there since the 1970s," White said.
White said the "language of the law" protects the neighborhood that is currently listed in the urban growth boundary, but is protected "as adjacent property."
"The law says the neighborhood is protected and preserved," White said.
"This is out of the question and will utterly destroy the neighborhood."
White said, however, the neighbors would "like to work out a solution with the city and the developers that will still "bring jobs to Mt. Juliet, but without destroying the neighborhood."
"We believe there is a way for reasonable people to achieve that goal," he said.
When asked, White noted pursuing litigation and legal action is "premature" at this point, and there's a way for the "developer and the city to resolve this issue, in good faith."
If project moves forward, residents 'will lose property values'
Plott said about 60 households are involved in the issue.
"We will lose our investments and this will turn our neighborhood from an island of solitude into a horrible racket."
He's lived there 10 years, while others have been on the street more than three decades. They described the proposed warehouse as a "monstrosity" and so large it looks "alien."
Plott said not only will their quality of life be ruined, but it will affect their real estate values, as well. Last week, a local real estate agent told at least one resident her property that is not in sight of the proposed project could lose value.
Margaret Dixon, with Crye-Lieke Realtors Inc., wrote a letter dated April 6 , 2015, about a property located at 511 Hunting Hills Drive.
"If I were going to be listing this property to put on the market today, I would advise listing the property between $449,900 and $454,900," she wrote. "If the proposed industrial warehousing building is approved, I would advise in my professional opinion, that there would be a decrease of this property's value by 20% to 25%. Therefore revising the listing price for this property to be between $349,900 and $359,900."
She went on to state, "This proposed industrial warehousing plan, for this area of Hunting Hills, is going to adversely affect the value of the properties on Hunting Hills Drive, and will dramatically affect the properties that actual back to the commercial area."
Hunting Hills resident Jerry McKenzie said he couldn't believe the massiveness of the proposed warehouse.
"Do you know the Beckwith North building by itself will be 23 acres?" he said. "And would be just a half a football field away from our home."
While the project is not in his jurisdiction, City Commissioner Ray Justice went to this past Saturday's meeting. He will cast a vote on the project. He also met with the developer.
"The developer sounded like they actually are entertaining some ideas to make the whole situation better," Justice said. "And, it was a nice community get-together. I'm really impressed with them [the residents]."
To read full background on the issue, visit www.wilsonpost.com for previously written stories.
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at email@example.com