The chamber of the Williamson County Board of Commissioners was filled to the brim with residents, half with yellow sheets of paper reading “Town & Country” and half with crimson signs saying “Don’t devalue our property!” as the board of commissioners voted to endorse Williamson 2040, the county’s comprehensive land-use plan, at its March 9 meeting.
Nearly 30 people signed up to speak about the plan at the meeting, with each given a minute and five seconds to voice their opinions about a plan that many said would have lasting repercussions for decades to come.
Those against Williamson 2040 worried the plan might decrease their property values by enforcing minimum lot sizes to control density in unincorporated areas outside of the urban growth boundaries of the county. Those for the plan expressed a need for the county to control its rapid growth.
Sheila King, a Williamson county landowner against the plan, said the plan would infringe on her rights as a property owner, and she urged the board to take more time in its consideration.
“We don’t make a lot of money. We really don’t,’ King said. “Our entire retirement is based on our land value, and you’re taking that individual right away from us.”
Perry Ozburn, a county resident who supported the plan’s adoption, said his family has lived in the county since 1805 and wants to preserve the county’s rural character.
“I totally reject the idea that property [values] are going to go down. I think the values will go up dramatically,” Ozburn said. “We don’t need any more gridlock, we don’t need any more congestion, we don’t need any more alternative septic systems. Just go through Nolensville at 5 o’clock—that’s what we don’t need anymore.”
During a presentation of the plan before the board’s vote, Williamson County Planning Director Michael Matteson said staff had been working on the draft for 18 months, and the county had reached a “fork in the road” when it came to addressing growth, as U.S. Census Bureau projections had the population of the county more than double in size by 2040 if nothing were done.
“Regardless of which projection you look at, the fact remains that we have been seeing and are expecting to see tremendous growth, and so that really underscores the need of the county to be very deliberate and very intentional in our planning,” Matteson said.
The board ultimately approved the endorsement of the land-use plan with one dissenting vote from Commissioner Bert Chalfant. The plan will now go before the county planning commission on March 12 for approval, preceded by a public hearing regarding the plan.