North Highland Avenue may get 91 town homes

Scott Broden, the Daily News Journal, May 3, 2017

North Highland Avenue may be adding 91 town homes on 11.6 acres between the future Murfreesboro Police Headquarters across the street and the Oaklands Mansion area.

The Murfreesboro Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on rezoning for the proposed town home development called The Cove at Oaklands during a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chambers on the first floor of City Hall, 111 West Vine Street.

The proposed town homes by applicant Brian Burns would include 47 brownstones.  The development would come to an area where the local government completed a North Highland Avenue land-use study to guide and encourage redevelopment of a part of the city after Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, Murfreesboro Medical Clinic and other health care providers relocated from there to the fast-growing Gateway area.

If the town homes are going to be built, Oaklands Mansion Executive Director James Manning said, he hopes the developer and the city will manage runoff water responsibly along Sinking Creek on the property and where the water connects to a Maney Spring that flows by public land and the city’s Oaklands Park, which is adjacent to the mansion grounds.

“It’s too overgrown,” Manning said. “The most beautiful area is not currently accessible.”

Preserving wetlands by Oaklands

Manning suggested the city and the developer consider clearing the exotic, evasive brush along the creeks and building an elevated walkway trail to prevent people on foot from compacting the grounds by these wetlands “for enjoyment of all the residents of the proposed town homes, as well as our residents who are already enjoying Oaklands.”

“Both are recommendations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Manning, a downtown resident who’d also love to see the city pursue a long-range plan to extend the greenway along the Stones River and Lytle Creek to the Oaklands Park, where those involved with the mansion hold an Oktoberfest.  “We are working with the city of Murfreesboro to encourage and explore additional positive use of Oaklands Park.”

The mansion’s master gardener and curator, Connor Moss, agreed.

“We hope that the city of Murfreesboro and developer can work together to make the wetlands an accommodation,” said Moss, a downtown resident who noted how efforts by him and a volunteer to remove the exotic, evasive brush and trash along a portion of Maney Spring have helped people and wildlife enjoy that natural habitat in and near the park.

Town home plan includes 47 brownstones

The Cove at Oaklands is a planned residential development crafted by Huddleston-Steele Engineering in Murfreesboro, according to the planning commission agenda packet.

“The proposed density for the site would be 7.84 dwelling units per acre,” the agenda packet states. “The site would be accessed from East Clark Boulevard, North Highland Avenue, and Dudley Street.  An amenity area including pavilion and dog park would be located on the west side of the property.”

The development would have two sections coming to a North Highland area that generated interest from many downtown residents.  Proposals have included making the area an arts district.  The City Council recently approved a resolution in support of the plans for Highland and the Historic Bottoms area along the west side of Broad Street between West Main Street and Maney Avenue.

“The southernmost portion of the development would include 47 brownstone-type townhouse units divided among eight buildings,” the agenda packet states.  “Four of the buildings would line North Highland Avenue and would have front setbacks of 20 feet.  The brownstone buildings would be three stories in height and would include individual garages.  Exteriors would consist primarily of brick, and the entryway for each unit would be elevated above street level.”

Plan places 2 traditional town home buildings near Clark Blvd.

The center and northernmost portions of the site would include 44 traditional town houses divided among eight buildings, according to the agenda packet. Two of the town house buildings would be near East Clark Boulevard, while the remaining buildings would be near the center of the subject property.  The traditional town homes would include 31 offering three bedrooms and 13 offering two bedrooms.

“The traditional town houses would have surface parking with no garages,” the agenda packet states.  “Exteriors would consist of brick, stone, and cementitious siding. The traditional town houses would not have entryways elevated above street level.”

Planning chairman will abstain from vote

Any vote on The Cove at Oaklands will exclude one from Planning Commission Chairman Bob Lamb because he said his Exit Realty business represents the property seller.

The appointed planning commissioners vote on rezoning recommendations for the City Council, which has final authority on zoning decisions.

Reach Scott Broden at 615-278-5158 and on Twitter @ScottBroden

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