City Commission to resume discussion on 29-acre retail development

Gary B. Gray • Aug 1, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Commissioners move tonight to round two of a three-step process to rezone a 29-acre parcel off North State of Franklin Road that would open the door for a significant retail development.

On July 18, a 3-2 vote moved forward an ordinance to rezone property located at 920 N. State of Franklin Road from MS-1 (Medical Services) to B-4 (Planned Arterial Business). Brentwood’s GBT Realty Corporation has dubbed the massive undertaking Franklin Commons, and preliminary plans show two phases of construction.

The first includes four outparcels (individual retail sites in a shopping center) and a grocery store. The second is a massive area that would be used for retail, as well as for four outparcels fronted by North State of Franklin. Drawings show a 425-space parking lot in the center of these structures.

Commissioners also will consider a concept plan for the site.

Vice Mayor Clayton Stout and Commissioner David Tomita voted against the rezoning on first reading and asked that the matter be deferred in lieu of more detailed traffic studies.

Residents living near the proposed development have voiced concerns about potential traffic problems, and they will get their chance to speak tonight during a public hearing.

Angie Carrier, Development Services Department director, told commissioners the proposed development would generate about 4,900 vehicle trips daily, according to information from the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

City Manager Pete Peterson said additional turn lanes would be added on North State of Franklin and that Skyline would get new asphalt and “probably be widened by a few feet.”

“We believe that the entrances and exits that have been planned to access State of Franklin and Sunset Drive — which are meant to handle this traffic — are sufficient to handle the traffic without compromising Skyline Drive in such a detrimental way and putting all Skyline Drive residents in peril,” said Barbara Feathers, who lives on this road. “It’s nice to dream that it would have minimal effect, as stated by a city worker, when you don’t live on Skyline.”

Feathers’ concern is shared by a number of residents in the Hunters Lake Community Association.

Meanwhile, the time has come for commissioners to choose a permanent name for the 5-acre flood mitigation/greenspace/park/aesthetic downtown entryway that most have known as Founder’s Park.

“We started by going to school children and letting them suggest names,” said Phil Pindzola, Public Works Department director. “We then had three groups pick their top 20 choices: city staff, Johnson City Development Auhtority/Friends of Ole Downtown; and the Public Art Committee. Then we merged those to 17. These names were then make available to the public in the form of an online survey in which they picked their top three choices.”

The top vote-getter was “Blue Plum Greenway.” Commissioners can come to a consensus on one of these 17 names, or they can suggest their own names. Either way, Pindzola said a name likely will be decided upon tonight.

Two options also will be considered to improve the pedestrian crossing on State of Franklin Road in the downtown area between Roan and Buffalo streets. Both options include removing the mid-block pedestrian crossing and lighting upgrades.

Commissioners also will revisit the possibility of sending out RFPs for the sale or lease of the indoor soccer complex next to Buffalo Valley Golf Course. The property is valued at about $285,000.

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