Brownland Farms development in Franklin moves forward in approval process

The Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed the Brownland Farms development during its Sept. 14 meeting. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed the Brownland Farms development during its Sept. 14 meeting. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed the Brownland Farms development during its Sept. 14 meeting. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

The much-debated Brownland Farms development is headed for final approval from the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen following a public hearing Sept. 15.

Developers for the project are working to rezone 233.66 acres of land near Hillsboro Road and Mack C. Hatcher Parkway from agricultural to planned development use and plan to create a neighborhood with 471 residential units, including single-family homes, townhomes, multiplexes and multifamily buildings.

The project has been in the works for the past several months and was first presented in a neighborhood meeting in February. The development received approval on the second of three readings in a 6-1 vote with Alderperson Ann Peterson voting against the rezoning.

However, city staff said the project is not as straightforward as most developments. The development does not follow the guidelines laid out in Envision Franklin, the city's long-term planning document approved in 2007. The project also did not receive approval from the city's planning commission, which voted 3-4 against the project in June.

Amy Diaz-Barriga, planning supervisor for the city's planning and sustainability department, said the land was previously identified as an area for conservation neighborhoods and conservation in Envision Franklin, a land use type that would include lower housing densities than what was proposed by developers.

“The applicant is going against this guidance by proposing three multifamily buildings, approximately with 21 units each within each building for a total of 64 of multifamily units,” she said. “That additional density that they have with those multifamily units, we don't support [them], so we would recommend that that zoning propose be reduced or disapproved.”

Additionally, Diaz-Barriga said staff has also discovered issues with the land itself. A significant portion of the proposed residential units—about 70%—would be built within a flood plain area.

City staff said this could create issues should the area see a heavy rain event that causes flooding. Because the neighborhood would be accessed via Hillsboro Road, there is concern the area would be unreachable for emergency vehicles during a flood. During the most recent flood in March, a large portion of Hillsboro Road near downtown Franklin saw significant flooding.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, a number of residents shared these concerns over flooding.

“I’m mainly concerned with the flooding issue; I’ve lived here, and I’ve seen it get worse,” Franklin resident Mark Harrison said. “We spent Palm Sunday with the most recent flood rescuing our neighbors’ cows that were washed downstream, and it’s apparently getting worse.”

However, a number of other residents also spoke in favor of the development, citing the need for more attainable housing in the region. Additionally, Greg Gamble, owner of Gamble Design Collaborative and planner for the project, said the development will also add detention areas, which will allow more capacity for stormwater during a flood.

“We need the additional 28 million gallons of storage that Brownland is proposing within the neighborhood in this community,” Gamble said.

After hearing concerns from residents and city staff, the BOMA ultimately opted to move the project forward, citing a need for more housing in the region as a result of low inventory.

“I’ve heard people say today that they would like to live there in the condos,” Alderperson Margaret Martin said. “As long as God sends rain, Franklin, Tennessee is going to flood—it floods my basement every time. And until the people from New York, and California, and Texas and Chicago get tired of moving here we're going to have traffic issues and we're going to have parking issues, that's a given. But we just simply have to go on and I think these developers have done a good job.”

The final reading for the project will be on the Oct. 12, at which time the board will also vote on the accompanying development plan for the project.


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