Council split on 2,250-home, business park plan | News

A planned new mixed-use development with more than 2,000 homes, a business park and commercial space has narrowly received initial approval from Gallatin city leaders.

In a split 4-3 vote Tuesday, the Gallatin City Council passed on first reading a preliminary master development plan, rezoning and annexation request for a 655-acre property located at the corner of Red River Road and State Route 109. A final vote is expected to take place next month.

If approved, the development would include a more than 100-acre business park as well as 1.1 million square feet of commercial and office space in addition to single-family homes and rental units, according to updated plans for the project.

“I realize this is a real large development, but what excites me the most is that we’re only dealing with one developer,” District 5 Councilman John D. Alexander said prior to the vote. “I know some townhouses will probably be in there, but I definitely don’t want to cut out all of the rental property because everybody cannot afford a townhome.”

According to officials involved with the project, a majority of the 1,350 total single-family homes and townhomes being proposed would be dedicated to a 55-and-older active adult community that would be gated and have its own homeowners’ association.

However, several members of the city council have expressed concerns in recent weeks about the potential of up to an additional 900 multi-family residential units that could be built on 133 acres that would be zoned for mixed use.

“It’s going to be hard for me to support them putting apartments and things like that on there,” District 4 Councilman Craig Hayes said during a committee meeting on Feb. 9. “We’re saturated in this town right now, and I think (the density of the residential area) is going to be my big sticking point.

“Once we zone it, it’s zoned… and we can’t go back.”

An amendment proposed Tuesday by Vice Mayor Shawn Fennell that would have reduced the multi-family portion of the development to 750 units and required that they all be townhomes failed due to lack of support.

“The plans that are out there are really good, and I have said that from the beginning, but my only concern is the rental units right there,” said Fennell who voted against the project along with Hayes and District 1 Councilwoman Lynda Bradley Love. “That’s the only reason I’m really concerned about the property and the density of it.”

Project representative John Haas with the planning firm Edge told city leaders earlier this month that it could take up to 15 years to complete the project and that it is “not the intent” of the developer to build all 900 multi-family residential units.

However, he added that rental was “an important component” of the plan.

“We want to be able to accommodate as many residential options as we can,” Haas said. “We’re trying to behave in a very respectable and responsible manner, but also leave some flexibility for the plan.”

Primary access to the development would be from three connections along an extension of Albert Gallatin Avenue/Hatten Track Road extension, which is currently under construction through the property. There would also be access from S.R. 109 as well as from Red River Road, according to plans for the project.

Gallatin City Planner Bill McCord told officials earlier this month that a traffic study would be required as different phases of the development were built in order to identify any additional on-site or off-site infrastructure improvements that would also be required to be made.

A public hearing regarding the development is expected to take place during the March 2 meeting of the Gallatin City Council. A final vote could take place March 16 without any deferrals or delays.

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