Route 66 rejection 

above Johnie Beth Matthews at the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge

An application by Ken McGee of McGee Investments received harsh criticism from area residents and commissioners, who unanimously voted to deny the application.

The 60-acre area in question is bordered on the south by Route 66; on the west by the Kilpatrick Turnpike; and on the east by Morgan Road and is just west of the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge — an area featuring an abundant array of wildlife and a popular location for outdoor recreation.

The property also has a portion of designated wetland along its southern border.

The land is currently zoned as commercial — after an aborted attempt to bring in a Walmart — and McGee, the land’s majority owner, had hoped to have the commission approve re-zoning part of the land as residential to make way for an apartment complex.

The planned development, Route 66 Landing, would have featured commercial development on the western side and residential development with up to 15 residences per acre in its northeastern corner. The plans called for elevating the land out of the floodplain, and the installation of a greenbelt and two ponds to catch runoff from the parking lots, as well as an expansion of the wetland area.

Developers and owners have met multiple times with area residents expressing concerns on how the development would affect the environment and property values, but a stable agreement between the two parties had not been reached by the meeting.

The planned unit development came under fire from nearby residents at the Planning Commission meeting.

Eric Groves, an attorney who represented some of the protestants, said there had been an agreement when Walmart was planning to build that a wall would be constructed in the area, though McGee said since the current plan was less commercially intense than the planned Walmart development, a large wall would not be justified.

Groves
said the planned development was incompatible with the surrounding
area, that drainage issues would occur by building in the floodplain and
the hydrocarbons draining into the detention ponds could decrease water
quality going into Stinchcomb and Lake Overholser.

“There’s
no commitment in the (planned unit development) over who will be
responsible for the detention ponds or the wetlands,” Groves said.
“There’s no plan whatsoever to provide for the quantity or quality of
runoff that’s going to go in that stream.

There’s no plan whatsoever to provide for the quantity or quality of runoff that’s going to go in that stream.

—Eric Groves

“I
can’t for the life of me imagine why the city would ever sanction a
situation where it knows to a certainty that pollution is going to
increase into an already impaired body of water. It’s just not what we
do.”

Groves argued that the project was light on specifics.

“I’m
not saying this property shouldn’t be developed. It can be, it might
even be developed to look something like (McGee’s proposal),” Groves
said. “But it has to be carefully planned.”

Other citizens spoke out in opposition to the plan, and the commission eventually unanimously denied the application.

“I
don’t think the promise of apartments gets us to the point where the
area benefits significantly by the interjection of neighborhood
commercial-type development,” said Commissioner Michael Hensley.

Commissioner Bob Bright said specifics as to how runoff would be handled, traffic concerns and other issues were not clear.

“This
PUD was so vague to me that I couldn’t get a handle on it … You’ve
developed a PUD on a complete speculative basis that gives us very, very
little to say this will work,” Bright said. “It’s too fuzzy.”

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