Construction comes with longer road

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

East Hill Avenue is to be extended this summer into what was the Murray horse farm just north of a hill that looks over downtown Lewisburg.

Ernest Henegar's eyes light up as he reports his plans for land where he lived years ago near a Tennessee Walking Horse farm that was important to development of the breed.

Henegar, and his wife, Nancy, own the brick dwellings north of the S-shaped curves in East Church Street. His extension of Hill Avenue will be a one-way street to serve as a driveway for residents of more dwellings and an entrance to the old horse farm purchased several years ago by Lewisburg.

The one-way road is to be a horseshoe-shaped road that loops around and provides an exit for the residents and a way from the city-owned property.

The old pasture is also accessed by a pedestrian bridge over Rock Creek from the city park of the same name.

Jim Bingham, the Lewisburg-based engineer with offices on the public square, "wants to get up there and survey for the zero lot line homes," Henegar said on a recent afternoon.

Zero lot line homes might be compared to duplexes or row homes built in larger cities where land is expensive, but they're built with firewalls between the dwellings. There's also a "fraction of an inch between them," Henegar said. That way, they can be sold as individual dwellings.

Such homes are favored by "retirees, or folks who don't want to fool with a yard," Henegar said. As for the units that have been there, "We lease them, but at some point in time, our descendants will want to sell them as individual homes.

"We've enjoyed fooling with them," he said, including his wife and business partner as another who's dealt with the apartments. "My wife does all the paper work and I see about the maintenance.

"Each one is 1,150 square feet," he said. "They keep me out of the pool room."

Preservation is part of the plan with the new dwellings.

"What I'm trying to do is keep that rock fence... all the way down to East Church Street," Henegar said. "It goes over to WJJM" studios in a rock building on the hill."

The radio station's call letters are Jimmy Joe Murray's initials.

"When I was a little boy, Jimmy Joe Murrray and his sisters lived in the big white house," Henegar said of a house that burned decades ago at the hill. "He was an old bachelor and had old maid sisters. They lived together.

"He was instrumental in establishing the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association," Henegar recalled. "He also had a big hand in importing Jersey cows to the United States. He kept horses and mostly Jersey bulls there.

Lewisburg has sold some of the old Murray horse pasture to the city's Water and Wastewater Department, a separately chartered entity for the utilities. A large holding tank is to be built on the utility's part of the pasture, near its operating plants.

The rest of the land has been used for parking during Goats Music and More festivals and other events, such as the Rotarians' Festival on the Rocks.

Lewisburg's Planning Commission recommended adjusting the city's maps for the one-way road past the planned dwellings and city councilmen agreed to the change.

Now that construction season has begun, Henegar anticipates Wright Paving of Fayetteville will start building the road to serve new dwelling and provide access to the city property.