Some neighbors push against higher density housing proposal - WSMV News 4

Some neighbors push against higher density housing proposal

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Neighborhoods around Nashville are seeing new homes pop up every day, sometimes creating tension between developers and neighbors.

That push back has been stewing for years in the Hillwood-West Meade area.

"The feel here is big yards, nice old homes, lots of green space," said Jennifer Ragsdale, who lives near a development site on Vossland Drive.

Some said that feel in the Hillwood-West Meade neighborhood could change. A local developer submitted a proposal last week to build 26 homes on nearly 14 acres at Brook Hollow Road and Harding Pike.

Doug Small told Channel 4's Briona Arradondo he likes the idea.

"This is an opportunity for people to be able to stay in West Meade neighborhood yet have a different living environment that more suits your lifestyle," said Small, who also lives along Brook Hollow Road near the proposed development.

But others are pushing back.

"We're worried about traffic and we're worried about the neighborhood just starting to feel crowded," Ragsdale said.

The developer Mike Shmerling said he also lives in the area, telling Channel 4 it's a compromise. He wanted a new elementary school there a few years ago but neighbors opposed. The developer said he met with neighbors who live adjacent to his property, and he said they came to an agreement on his current proposal.

The neighborhood is zoned as single-family residential with one home per approximately one acre. However, the developer's new plan requires a zoning change for higher density, placing about two houses per one acre.

The space is protected by a community policy in Nashville Next, which requires some aspects of that area to be preserved. The developer said his proposal takes those protections into account.

"That community plan has been in place for about nine months. The ink's barely dry and now we're facing a potential revision of that plan," said Steele Clayton, who lives in Hillwood-West Meade area.

Metro Council member Mina Johnson, District 23, represents the area. She said the planning commission will decide whether to recommend the change, checking to see how well Harding Pike, which is a major roadway, and Brook Hollow could handle more traffic.

"Just because one area changes the zoning or the plan does not mean that affects the entire neighborhood," Johnson said.

While it's far from a done deal, some see uncertainty.

"What we really want is for our voices to be heard," Ragsdale said. "So many of us have lived in this neighborhood and grew up in this neighborhood, and we just don't want the feel of the neighborhood to change."

Others see a neighborhood moving forward.

"When you drive through West Meade, you see houses being torn down, ranch style houses, and building two story houses," Small said. "A community changes as new people move in there."

Some neighbors told Channel 4 they want to hear more from their council representative about the process. Johnson said she is open to talk to anyone who calls her.

The next opportunity for public comment from the community will be May 18 at West Meade Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. The Metro Planning Commission will meet to discuss and vote on the zoning change June 23 at 4 p.m.

Metro officials said if the planning commission approves the change, it will go on to Metro Council. If 21 council members vote yes, then the proposed development is approved.

If the planning commission does not approves the zoning change, the developer can still go to Metro Council to seek a final decision. The developer would then need 27 council members to vote "yes" to move forward with the project, officials said.

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