More and more Murfreesboro residents are being affected by wholesale approval of high-density development in the city.
It's a decision-making pattern that has decimated our city's green space and made Murfreesboro unrecognizable to visitors and long-time residents.
Our quality of life and clean air that we breathe is disappearing with each acre of trees and green space covered with concrete and blacktop, and the only few who benefit are developers.
The rest of us are subject to increasingly more traffic, more stress of construction, more noise, and now even more proposed taxes despite all this "growth."
The most recent case in point is the proposed Hidden River Estates development, which will require cutting down 110 acres of established urban forest along the Greenway paths and the Stones River at the Cason Lane Trailhead.
As reported by The Daily News Journal, condo developer Brian Burns and Rutherford County Chancellor Judge Howard Wilson are in the process of acquiring 70 acres of woodland owned by the late Dr. Tom Johns to add to the 41 acres of urban forest they had purchased from World Outreach Church with hopes of getting all 110 acres rezoned to build condos and homes along the Greenway.
If the rezoning requests are approved, Burns and Wilson (WB Holdings/Blue Sky Construction) plan to develop 677 residential units, an effort scheduled to take more than 10 years of ongoing construction.
Yes, putting these buildings in place of the 110 acres of woods along the Stones River is expected to be approved because it is legal and, according to the city officials, compliant with city ordinances.
But legal does not make it ethical or good for the quality of life of the established residents or those who visit the Greenway to enjoy nature, wildlife, and a quiet place to relax.
Here are the major concerns being ignored.
The proposed condo/residential development goes against the guiding principles of our Comprehensive Plan and the Murfreesboro 2035 vision document:
- Guiding Principle 6. Respect Environmental Constraints: Plan around the physical characteristics of the land, including slope, soil types, shallow depth to karst geological formations and sinkholes, and other environmental characteristics, floodplains, and wetlands.
- Guiding Principle 7: Resilience. Encourage land use decisions that improve the ability of individuals, communities, economic systems, and the natural and built environment to recover from natural and human-made disasters, and economic shifts. (note: natural and human-made disasters include floods).
This leads to more than a few questions.
How did the area become zoned residential and is now projected to be rezoned for high-density development if The Environmental Constraints Map shows that the majority of acreage in this property is within the 100-year floodplain, and the “Unsuitable for Development Map” designates the entire property as Unsuitable for Development?
Who will be responsible for economic and societal impacts and damages (increased flooding, property damage, loss of homes and businesses, loss of jobs, loss of air quality) resulting from the development in the 100-year floodplain and removing almost 110 acres of forested flood storage area that currently absorbs floodwater and protects the neighborhood and the river?
Who will compensate the current residents for the decrease in their property values due to the proximity of a higher density neighborhood and the decreased desirability of the area? Who will compensate residents for the time spent in traffic jams that the added hundreds of cars will make unbearable? How can it be considered safe to allow hundreds of additional vehicles to share the road with the children, families, and neighborhood residents who walk, ride bikes, walk dogs, and run to the trailhead park, when there aren’t any sidewalks leading to what would be both the park entrance and an entrance to a massive condo development?
Our 2035 Growth Sequencing Program lays out development policies for the Urban Growth Boundary in the County: Policy 4.3: Where practicable, all development, including transportation facilities, should avoid significant penetration impacts of large stands of existing forest cover. Thoroughfares and structures should be aligned and constructed to remain along or just within forest edges only.
Why isn't this policy applied within city boundaries, where it is needed most? What will be the benefit of the city greenway if all the woods along it are gone, birds and wildlife dispersed and killed?
The Cason Lane Hidden River proposal is the most recent and glaring example of the long-established pattern of decisions by the city that is making Murfreesboro unlivable. The city officials giddy with the inflow of new residents are ignoring a deeper reality: the long-time Murfreesboro residents selling their homes and moving away. They are being replaced by transient populations for whom our city is a temporary pit stop before they move on to places where people want to stay--where resident quality of life is considered a priority.
Take a walk along the greenway at the Cason Lane Trailhead and imagine 677 condos/homes in place of the woods. As you walk north, down the walk/bike path, and cross the bridge over Stones River, you might be surprised to see nothing but bare ground and concrete along Highway 24 where acres and acres of forest and wildlife had already been cleared.
There is still time to preserve the woods on the other side before they are also destroyed and the Greenway becomes just another sidewalk through a noisy development.
Call our council members and ask them to deny the rezoning requests that would allow developers to build condos in place of the last stretch of woods along the West Fork Stones River Greenway. Noise and congestion are overwhelming our beautiful city.
We are Murfreesboro, and we say: Enough.
Preserve our Green Spaces