478 new homes proposed for Franklin

Nearly 500 new homes are planned for Franklin on property that was marked for a subdivision years ago, but neighboring residents are concerned about the lot size, home value and architectural standards.

Developer Mark Alt wants Arbor Homes to build 478 homes on nearly 167 acres southwest of the Windstar and Franklin Lakes neighborhoods off Nineveh Road. Mayor Steve Barnett and the city’s planning department have been negotiating with the developer and homebuilder for more than a year and through five revisions of the plans.

But the property is already zoned to allow up to 570 homes and the only request before the plan commission this week is to approve several waivers that allow the subdivision to have certain blocks that are longer than city standards.

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Neighbors, represented by the Windstar homeowners’ association, want more changes.

The lot sizes need to be larger, the home values need to meet or exceed the $250,000 to $300,000 value in Windstar and covenants and architectural standards need to be in place, said Michael Larmour, a member of the board of the Windstar homeowners’ association.

“We feel they’ve given a little bit, but it’s not near what it needs to be,” he said.

The city has repeatedly told the developer about the need for larger lot sizes. In a meeting last summer, the proposal called for lots averaging 70 feet wide and 125 feet deep. The planning department has asked that lots and homes similar to Windstar be built, because that is in need, the city has learned from Franklin schools, Johnson Memorial Health, real estate agents, potential new companies and other companies that try to recruit upper management, the planning report and Barnett said.

In the latest version of plans filed with the city earlier this month, the developer proposed larger lot sizes for the homes that are next to Windstar and increased depth and width of lot sizes throughout, resulting in variety. The lot sizes would average 8,750 square feet to 11,500 square feet, the planning report said.

The developer has agreed that matching homes will not be built next to each other or across the street, corner lots will have at least one window per story on all sides that face the street, and all homes will have masonry on at least 30 percent of the front elevation, the report said.

The association has asked the developer to indicate the starting home price and to outline the neighborhood covenants, but never got a response, Larmour said. And the proposal bases the lot sizes on the few smallest lot sizes of 8,000 square feet in Windstar, but not the average, he said.

City rules allow the developer to continue to develop the land based on the previous plan, meaning the minimum lot size can be based on the smallest lot size in the plat, said Joanna Myers, senior planner for the city.

The plan may meet the spirit of the city’s requirements, but not the spirit of what’s best for the city or for the current residents, Larmour said.

“I feel like it’s just giving us crumbs to appease us and it is not what’s best for Franklin,” he said.

The proposed neighborhood, The Bluffs at Youngs Creek, will connect to existing streets in the Windstar subdivision as planned. Several Windstar streets were built as boulevards to handle the increased traffic. Windstar was originally planned at 587 homes, but 214 were built.

The new subdivision will not have a new access point on Nineveh Road and will instead use Windstar Boulevard or one of the other exits, Myers said.

Barnett said the developer has been willing to compromise to meet the needs of the city, and benefit the developer and builder. He wants the minimum new home price to be $180,000, to fill in a void in home prices in Franklin. For example, the average prices of homes in the Heritage subdivision is $154,000, in Cumberland Trace is $196,000 and in Hillview is $312,000. Homes costing more than $200,000 would be best, he said.

“We’re trying to get what the community is comfortable with,” Barnett said. “Franklin is lacking in that price range.”

Barnett said he is much more in favor of the proposal now than when the project was first brought to the city, but he wants to see what architectural standards the homebuilder and developer will commit to. He said he understands the public’s concern over the lower value of the homes as compared to Windstar, and has worked to address that.

Neighboring residents said more could be done to bring the subdivision up a level.

“We just want them to give a little more on lot sizes, home prices and architectural standards,” Larmour said.

The developer may also donate some land to the park board to expand Blue Heron Park.

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Franklin Plan Commission

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Franklin City Hall, 70 E. Monroe St.

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The Bluffs at Youngs Creek

What: 478 single-family homes

Where: Southwest of Windstar subdivision, off Nineveh Road, in Franklin