Public Hearing for High Density Housing in Overcrowded LFE

The City of La Vergne is holding a Public Hearing on June 2, 2020 at 6:30. Ordinance #2020-03 addresses the proposed zoning change from R-1 (low density) to Planned Density Residential (high density). This property is located near Fire Station #3 on Bill Stewart Boulevard. The current zoning allows for approximately 18 homes. The proposed project would change the zoning to allow for about 145 units of Senior (55 plus) rental townhomes and quadplexes.  

At the meeting, the developer / architect stated that only four people showed up for the public hearing, indicating that if folks don’t show up they have no say in what happens. He was wrong. In fact a lawsuit in Tennessee a couple of years ago validated that emails are an acceptable form of requesting information from a city. Here’s the agenda of the public hearing scheduled next week that was found essentially buried on the city’s web page. You really have to search to find it.

And yes people do have a say, whether through emails, phone calls, or in person. For example a Lake Forest Estates resident told me this,

Community stakeholders are concerned with the already overpopulated area.  Lake Forest Estates is known for being the largest subdivision in the State of Tennessee with over 3,100 homes and numerous building projects already going on that have not been completed. 

We are also very concerned about adding to the traffic.  If you’ve ever had to come in or out of the area during busy travel times, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s a complete nightmare, only having four outlets to the main thoroughfare.  This is the largest subdivision in the State that I’m talking about with 1/3 of the City’s population.  There are many neighboring subdivisions that also deal with the traffic problems.

Deborah Balthrop, 20+ year resident of LaVergne and LFE

Zoning laws were changed several years ago to low density in order to protect this massive residential area from more high density housing. The Planning Commission when it comes to zoning changes will make a favorable or unfavorable recommendation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, but because they serve at the will of the Mayor we have seen time and time again that the commissioners will make the recommendation the mayor wants them to make. The Board then makes the final decision – a decision that should be based on what the people want. For example, the Board several years ago was faced with changing a property from Industrial zoning to (again) high density residential. Despite a favorable recommendation from the Planning Commission, the Board voted against changing the zoning because of public outcry. The efforts of the public stopped apartments from being built in what one person described as “the Brentwood of LaVergne.” I call upon city officials to show they care as much about parts of LaVergne that aren’t rolling in money as they care for those who can afford to make campaign donations.

As for the rest of us voting citizens, we too have voices. Use them. Speak up! Blow up phones and emails! Call them. Write to them. Speak out in person! These officials were elected by the people for the people. They were not elected by an architect for a developer!

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