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Cookeville Postpones Lovelady Road Rezoning Decision To May 5th

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Postpones Lovelady Road Rezoning Decision To May 5th

Cookeville City Council voted 3 to 2 to postpone a rezoning on Lovelady Road Thursday night until the council’s May 5th meeting.

Vice Mayor Laurin Wheaton and Council Member Mark Miller voted against postponing. Miller said that he was for the higher density rezoning because of a need for affordable housing in Cookeville. He said that his family and many families similar to his own can’t afford to own property within city limits.

“I want to live here, I want my son to be able to go across town and see his grandma and grandpa,” Miller said. “I don’t want to have to move away because I can’t afford to live here and I don’t want my friends to have to move away because they can’t afford to live here. And that’s why I’m a large proponent of this development.”

Mayor Ricky Shelton said that he wanted to explore a PRD idea for the site. A Proposed Residential Development would allow the planning commission, the city, and developers to negotiate and come to a preliminary plat for development together.

City Manager and former Planning Director James Mills said that only one PRD had completed the city’s formal process: a high-density student housing development.

Wheaton said that the issue with a PRD is that it still would not guarantee an RS-20 zone which was a concern for residents. She said that the driving force behind these discussions is the need for housing, and at the end of the day, the land would eventually be developed.

The vote came after more than three hours of a public hearing and council discussion on the rezoning.

The most common refrain from the 28 residents in the area: concerns about traffic and neighborhood integrity. Lovelady Community Member Tony Baker said that rezoning the property would cram hundreds of homes into the area.

“The current RS-20 status is consistent with many existing homes in the area,” Baker said. “RS-20 allows for elbow room and privacy between and among houses, which helps create an expansive, peaceful neighborhood, which is precisely what attracted my family and many of my neighbors.”

Brad Bender said that he and his family moved to the area knowing the rules and what the zoning looked like.

“And what we could expect from that zoning, and we expect city council to respect that,” Bender said. “And one of the issues that we look at is when the city seems to be going outside the rules to make an exception for a developer to bring in an out-of-state homebuilder.”

Other concerns from residents were of increased water exacerbating a flooding issue with runoff from Pigeon Roost Creek and Hudgens Creek. Many residents agreed that the current zoning was acceptable and development following those guidelines would be tolerated.

Council Member Eric Walker said that the developers were trustworthy, reliable, and always see projects through.

“I’ll say that the big push for this project is Cookeville needs housing, and that’s it,” Developer Justin Cumby said. “And we want to approach this project in an environmentally responsible way by preserving and protecting the 25 acres around the property. So we would appreciate your consideration, and again I’m to answer any questions.”


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