Neighbors voice concerns over proposal for Monroe Harding site - WSMV News 4

Neighbors voice concerns over proposal for Monroe Harding site

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The Monroe Harding non-profit is moving. Now, a debate is underway over the future of a historic 20-acre site. 

The foster care's board is leaning toward one proposal on what to do with the land, but many neighbors are ready to fight it.

"I'm very concerned about what comes next for Monroe Harding," said Kathleen Ervin, a neighbor on nearby Scenic Dr. "What's going to happen with that one last green track in the Green Hills area? Every day, every morning, I love going by Monroe Harding's property. The historic nature of the land, the incredible green space -- it's a beautiful space in our neighborhood."

Since the 1930s, Monroe Harding has served foster children at their location on Glendale Lane. Now that they are moving, the developer proposal their board likes best would put 31 luxury homes in the space.

"There are 20 acres of land that are going to be forever impacted," Ervin said 

Ervin's concerns don't end there. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Browns Creek flooded her home last year.

"In one night, we all watched our property value decrease," she said. 

Ervin fears more development will only make flooding worse.

"It's going to flood my house," Ervin said. "It's not going to be if, it's going to be when. I think it's going to forever impact our neighborhood negatively."

Monroe Harding board member John Bryant told News4 flooding in Ervin's neighborhood is inevitable but because it's in the floodway. He said the home's not part of the 100-year FEMA flood plain but in the flow of Browns Creek.

As to the flood plain, Bryant said detention basins are among the plans to meet Metro's stormwater regulations for the new development. 

Bryant said the property has long been zoned to allow for this new proposal.

Bryant also said seven to eight acres of land will remain undisturbed, and the developer will maintain as many trees as possible. He said volunteers for Monroe Harding planted a few thousand trees in the flood plain part of the property within the last few years and those will be undisturbed too. Bryant said this is the proposal that will bring the best value to Monroe Harding and the children it serves going forward.

Regardless, Monroe Harding's neighbors are largely opposed to the proposal, explained District 25 Councilman Russ Pulley.

Pulley said he hoped the area could be a park, but the city wasn't in the position to buy it. Pulley said many neighbors now join him in wishing Monroe Harding would sell to a school so they could keep existing buildings including one there since the 1930s. The building is not on the registry of historic places.  

Pulley said he's hoping to meet with leaders of Monroe Harding to negotiate and try to find a resolution. He's introduced a petition to rezone the property to allow for a school, church or daycare facility.

"There are so many children who could be helped or benefited by that property," said Ervin. "It's a shame to think our history, our green space, 200 mature trees and the floodplain is going to be impacted by this."

Bryant with the Monroe Harding board said the one building that could be considered historic would require substantial renovation at a substantial expense for whoever will take over the property next. He said the other buildings on the property lack any historical significance. 

Bryant added the property was marketed for sale, but despite interest from one private school, there wasn't enough confirmation from school officials they could afford the property purchase. While many neighbors have voiced traffic concerns, Bryant claims traffic impact would be marginal.

Bryant said Pulley's rezoning proposal wouldn't limit new construction, just the uses of the property.

"Taking residential development rights away through the SP substantially devalues Monroe Harding's property," said Bryant. "After 80-something years, Monroe Harding doesn't need 20+ acres in Green Hills anymore. Like most folks, the bulk of Monroe Harding's net worth is in its "house" on Glendale Lane. Monroe Harding isn't in the financial position to walk away from the substantial value is has in its property."

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