May 15, 2008

Changing the city's image with upscale urban living.

Housing projects poised to change city’s image
The Tennessean • May 14, 2008

Apartments, condominiums and townhouses are going up by the thousands in Gallatin, and more are on the way.The number of projects, and their proximity to one another, has begun to wave warning flags for city planners. The impact on the city, its image and quality-of-life by projected population growth and where newcomers will live, is giving officials cause for re-examination of its current development direction. Planning commissioners are concerned about the number of these projects being presented, proposed or that have already received approval and what that means in terms of the city’s overall growth.“This is where we need to start talking about where we want our density concentration. You have some major zoning decisions to make,” City Planner Jim Svoboda said.At Kennesaw Farms, a 300-acre development across from Fairvue Plantation, a 288-unit apartment complex is being built as part of the project, which also features single-family homes, retail and office space.Foxland at Fairvue has plans for 71 townhouses and a 300-unit apartment complex for property on the other side of Douglas Bend Road from the first phase of that project. Developer Charles Haynes is also proposing 300 apartments as part of an upcoming project on Douglas Bend Road.“That’s a tremendous amount of people in a quarter of a mile,” Mayor Jo Ann Graves said. “We haven’t spent any time talking about the impact to Gallatin, the impact to the road system.”According to city planning records, Gallatin approved 3,525 multifamily units from 2000 to 2006. Of that number, only 931 had been built. Construction on the remaining 2,594 units could begin whenever building permits are issued.“I know nobody wants to hear this,” Planning Commissioner James Robert Ramsey said. “We don’t even ask the school system. Can you imagine when those apartments go in? Man, it’s just overwhelming.”Ramsey said he was also concerned about the kind of impression having thousands of multifamily units built here would create.“Do we want to become an apartment community? It can happen,” he said.Planning Commission Chairman Dick Dempsey said he wondered how the city’s road system would handle increases in population resulting from the construction of so many apartments, townhouses and condominiums.“Let’s find out — Nashville Pike with the new connection roads to State Route 386 – how much can the present roads handle?” Dempsey asked.Planning commissioners are expected to schedule a special-called meeting focusing on population density. That meeting has not been set.One course of action that will likely be discussed is developing character areas, a concept that is being explored as part of the city’s initiative to update its land use and transportation planning maps.“Each character area will have recommendations for land uses,” Svoboda said.Another part of the dialogue would likely center on concentrated areas of density. Svoboda has previously said such an initiative could go a long way toward establishing public transportation. The Regional Transportation Authority is now proposing running two express bus lines from Gallatin to Nashville daily.

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