Chapel Hill votes to annex property for development

Friday, April 14, 2017

Chapel Hill did something that few Tennessee municipalities get to do any more—annex property into their town.

Aldermen voted to annex a 27.98-acre parcel on Highway 99 after the owner, the White Family Trust based out of Franklin, initially requested the action several months ago.

The plan for the site is to develop a mixed-use retirement facility that would include single family homes, apartments, and assisted living facilities. The proposal also includes retail space as well as a medical facility.

The annexed parcel is on the northern side of the highway, in between the convienence center and James King Drive.

Several years ago, the state greatly limited the ability of municipalities to annex land.

Cities and towns used to be able to annex land as they chose through ordinance but the state legislature put an end to that after complaints that citizens were being annexed against their will.

The property is eligible for annexation because part of the parcel touches the existing town limit. The property gives the town a larger footprint on Highway 99, which some believe will be an important commercial district for the town.

Because the sole owner of the property has requested the annexation, all that is required was a simple vote from the board.

Town Administrator Mark Graves said that in projecting potential numbers that the development, as proposed, could represent one third of the town’s tax base in the future.

The development would also impact town services equally, however.

“That would pretty much eat up the rest of our waste water capacity,” said Graves. “We need to be planning now what we are going to do going forward.”

The proposed development has further steps regarding zoning and planning approval before it would be ready to begin.

“If they turned something in to us today, it’d take six months to get to where it could possibly happen,” said Graves.

Graves said that this was only one of several possible projects being discussed and that the town needed to start thinking about infrastructure requirements, such as water and sewer capacity.

“We’re probably talking three to five years down the road,” he said, “but it will be here before you know it.”

A sewer line extension project, for which the town received a $361,000 Community Development Block Grant as partial funding, is almost ready to bid, Graves said.

The balance of the project would be funded through the State Revolving Fund, a loan program from the state that offers up to 15 percent principal forgiveness but also requires a rate study to determine if current water rates are sufficient to meet the debt service.

Graves said the town is waiting for SRF to finish their study in order to see what their recommendation might be.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Andrew Kon presented several bits of new business as well.

The department is declaring their diesel Volkswagen Passat police vehicle as surplus and replacing it with a truck.

Volkswagen, responding to the problems faced over misleading mileage claims for their diesel vehicles, is purchasing the vehicle from the department at a higher price than they paid for it two years ago. Replacing it with a truck will give the department a vehicle with towing capacity for some of their specialty trailers, all at net cost of roughly $1,400.

He also asked the board to authorize the purchase of M-4 carbines for each of the department’s police cars, using funds from the town’s drug fund. The incident last month at CW Cuts in Lewisburg reinforced the need for his officers to have access to more than just their sidearms, Kon said.

The chief and one of his officers also modeled new uniforms that the department is considering adopting. Kon said that his officers had strongly requested that the department return to a more traditional navy blue uniform, replacing the current black pant and gray shirt combination.

Graves said that he hoped to have a public meeting scheduled soon regarding the transportation planning grant that the town is using to develop long term planning goals for the town.

The four candidates, hoping to fill the seat of the late Alderman Bucko Bryant, interviewed by the board last week will have to wait until May’s meeting for the board to choose a replacement.