Franklin leaders voted Nov. 23 to add a sprawl of nearly 300 acres into Franklin’s city limits and rezone it, a prelude to a developer’s pitching a plan to build hundreds of homes in a new neighborhood.

The Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 5-4 to annex the five properties southeast of the crossing of Clovercroft Road and Oxford Glen Drive into the city and 5-3 in favor of the rezoning ordinance. The verdant 295-acre parcel is designated as a planned unit development, which would allow for single-family homes to be built on a mix of lot sizes.

The development plan from Brentwood-based Meritage Homes is called Poplar Farms and would include 546 single-family homes. Two zoning overlays requiring preserving open space in sections of the property, including those facing Highway 96, will remain in force.

Kelly Dannenfelser, assistant director of the Franklin Department of Planning and Sustainability, which recommended approval of the measures, said the development plan is consistent with the single-family design designated for that geographic area in the city’s long-range land-use plan, Envision Franklin.

“Staff reviewed the development plan and recommended approval for it because it met the tenets of Envision Franklin,” Dannenfelser said.

Those in favor of the plan, including Mayor Ken Moore and Alderman at Large Clyde Barnhill, offered little comment before the vote, but Ward 1 Alderman Beverly Burger, who voted against the proposals, spoke at length about the building density and related traffic problems she believes the project would create.

Burger said McKay’s Mill Village Center, which includes a Publix and other businesses, would become less pedestrian friendly.

“We have a very walkable community over there with a restaurant packed out every night and a Publix that was really surprised this went through,” Burger said.

Barnhill said the city's lengthy land-use process would ensure adequate investment to manage increased traffic volumes.

Kris Keown, vice president of land development services for Meritage, said the firm has been working on the project for three years and that the development would not diminish the area’s bucolic aura.

“It’s been our goal to put together a plan that complied with Envision Franklin, and it is great to get the positive vote,” Keown said.

Keown said a project groundbreaking could be two years away based on the land-use approval process in Franklin and the project might not be completed until 2026 or later.