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Developing a city with community support

Posted on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 8:00 am


Residential zoning issues have generated a great deal of interest from the public in the past few weeks.

There was a full house at the Shelbyville Municipal Planning Commission meeting in December, with five allowed to make comments, all of which were negative toward a proposed development known as Remington Farms.

Waleed Albakry, director of planning and community development for the City of Shelbyville, encourages citizens to be involved in presenting their comments about growth in the city.

“I’m pleased people are commenting,” Albakry said. “We need to know what the community requires. With people showing up at these meetings it sends a strong message to applicants making rezoning requests that people are knowledgeable and aware of what is going on.”

Albakry wants to hear all sides when the planning commission and city council are presented rezoning issues for potential development. Outside of the public meetings he engages the public in small group meetings or individually over coffee.

“We are committed to the community and not just to individuals,” Albakry said. “If we are only listening to applicants and developers, we are not doing our job.”

North vs South

Two of the biggest points of discussion have been annexation requests for two different sites on the south side and north side of Union Streets.

An annexation request for 124 acres of vacant land on the south side of Union Street, owned by Franklin Swing and Rebecca Dawn Swing, known as Remington Farms PUD, received a favorable recommendation from the planning commission by a 6-3 vote and will be voted on at the regular meeting of the city council on Jan. 11.

A Planned Unit Development – labeled as the Remington PUD – which would consist of 715 residential units and 9.83 acres designated for commercial development, was deferred by the planning commission. The first phase calls for construction of 21 homes.

In a letter to the Municipal Planning Commission, Jason Reese, general manager of the Shelbyville Power, Water and Sewerage System, (SPWS), said, “For the past several months SPWS personnel have researched the studied the impact a development of this scale could have on our existing infrastructure. These studies found extensive power and sewer infrastructure improvements are necessary to service this development.

“However, we believe SPWS will have adequate facilities to serve Remington Farms with reliable utility services, including water.”

Reese added that if the development is approved, Thoroughbred Construction LLC “will provide SPWS with an upfront payment of $1,430,000 (715 x $2,000) in accordance with SPWS Board policy which will be earmarked for the previously mentioned sewer improvements.”

He stressed those improvements “will help eliminate inflow and infiltration with the Jennings Lane sewershed that will benefit not only Remington Farms, but all current households within the Garden Gate, Fairlane, and Green Hills neighborhoods as well.”

The rezoning and annexation of 48.73 acres and an 18.19 acre tract to R-2 (Low density residential) received unfavorable recommendations in 6-3 votes by the planning commission. Both tracts are owned by James Baum and Elisabeth Gallun and located on the north side of Union Street and west of Jennings Lane both. The ruling means both tracts would be zoned R-1 if the city decides to annex them.

How plans change

Albakry emphasized it can be several months to a year before a request for an annexation or development reaches the planning commission and the city council for consideration. There are certain requirements that need to be met and those are not always in the original plans submitted to the planning and community development for consideration.

“They have to conform to the city’s ordinances and the comprehensive plan,”Albakry said. “We look at future land use. That is what guides us in determining if a request is compatible.”

Albakry adds that a request is reviewed by planning and community development, but is also passed onto for comments from the Shelbyville Fire Department, Shelbyville Police Department, the Shelbyville Power, Water and Sewerage System and the Shelbyville Public Works Department. All can make requests for changes.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation also review the plans as well.

“What people see in these public meetings is very different from what was originally applied for,” Albakry said. “A plan may be for all townhomes and we tell the applicant the site must limit the number of townhomes and add R-1 housing.

“Sometimes there is a lot of pushback,”Albakry said. “We tell them they have to follow what is in our regulations. They can move forward without making the changes requested, but they are rolling the dice in terms of whether they will be approved.”