Nichols Vale, Mt. Juliet’s proposed northside subdivision, was approved on second reading by the Mt. Juliet City Commission, after neighbors from both Sunset Drive and Faulkner Lane appeared before commissioners Monday night once again to protest the proposed zoning change for the development and its planned connections to their neighborhoods.
Developer Khris Pascarella, representing Pearl Street Partners LLC, said his firm and its partner, Crescent Communities, have made numerous changes to their original plan in response to concerns of local residents.
These changes included, most recently, expanding the lot sizes in the section of Nichols Vale that will be most visible from Faulkner Lane due to requests made by residents at a meeting with them on Jan. 20.
Mayor Ed Hagerty asked City Attorney Gino Marchetti to explain the legal aspects of the situation.
“Owners have legal rights,” Marchetti replied, “as long as they comply with local and state laws and regulations to develop their property. At this time, there is no legal reason to oppose this developer.”
After hearing the city attorney’s opinion, the commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the Planned Urban Development design presented by the developer, with District 4 Commissioner Jim Bradshaw absent.
The commissioners also discussed possible solutions to the apparent stalemate between the city and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency concerning fire and emergency medical service in the city. The commissioners voted 3-1, with District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice casting the only nay vote, to send an agreement to the county concerning this call response plan, but Hagerty and the commissioners voiced doubts that the county would agree to the plan.
Mt. Juliet Fire Chief Erron Kinney said he had met with WEMA and county officials in the past and doesn’t expect them to accept this agreement, either.
“We tried to sit down and work it out with them, but there was no willingness to cooperate,” Kinney said. “The meetings seemed to involve WEMA trying to dictate what we can and can’t do in Mt. Juliet.”
The commissioners did vote to send the proposed agreement to WEMA, but they also approved a study to determine the feasibility of Mt. Juliet opening a second firehouse and possibly contracting with a private ambulance service instead of using WEMA’s services.
Kinney and his department are to have all the facts and figures ready to present to the commission by April 1, with the target date for opening the new firehouse on East Hill Street to be July 1, 2014. The building that would be used is currently leased to WEMA, but it is owned by the city.
The commissioners also heard a request from County Mayor Randall Hutto that the city agree to pay the county $50,000 per year for the next 20 years to finance a county expo center to be located at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center/Wilson County Fairgrounds.
Two weeks ago, the commissioners requested that District 17 State Sen. Mae Beavers and State Reps. Susan Lynn, District 57, and Mark Pody, District 46, take no action on a request from the Wilson County Commission for the state to allow the county to increase the hotel occupancy privilege tax by up to 3 percent.
This additional tax was proposed to fund the expo center, an idea that was rejected by both the Mt. Juliet City Commission and the City of Lebanon at that time.
In his letter to Mt. Juliet’s commission, Hutto requested financing both from Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, with the sum requested from Lebanon set at $100,000 per year.
After discussing the proposal, the Mt. Juliet commissioners agreed to draft a letter telling the county mayor thanks for the offer, but that the city isn’t interested.
Hagerty did say he would consider the county’s request if it would agree to give the city half of the impact fees that the county has collected in Mt. Juliet subdivisions like Del Webb and will collect in the city’s proposed new Lifestyles development, since both subdivisions have no children or will have no children, and the fees are collected to finance schools.
Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.