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216-unit apartment complex gets initial approval

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Despite lingering traffic concerns, a plan to build a 216-unit apartment complex on Long Hollow Pike near Vietnam Veterans Boulevard has received initial approval from the Gallatin City Council.

The request to amend the preliminary master development plan for Hunter Pointe to allow for the apartments to be built on 19.38 acres across from the Fairway Farms subdivision was unanimously approved Tuesday.

The decision came less than one month after the Gallatin Planning Commission voted against recommending approval of the plan.

Prior to the vote Tuesday, Vice Mayor Jimmy Overton proposed an amendment that would have required the developer to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Long Hollow Pike and Wendling Boulevard. However, the measure was later pulled in order to give the city's engineering department time to evaluate a time-frame for when a signal might be needed.

"The residents out there, the ones I've spoken to... just felt comfortable if they had a red light up there due to traffic concerns," Overton said. "I want to support this apartment complex... but they at least want a traffic light there because they know eventually, when all of the commercial and everything else gets on this property, that it's going to be a nightmare to get in and out."

While a traffic study found that the level of service for the adjacent Fairway Farms subdivision would worsen from a rating of "D" to "F" if the proposed apartment complex was built, City Engineer Nick Tuttle said Tuesday that he does not recommend installing an unwarranted traffic signal "because we are not dealing with a safety issue."

"I understand that it may be an inconvenience for some of those folks, but if a signal is not warranted then there are good reasons for that," he said. "(You would be) putting in an unwarranted traffic signal that is very close to another signal and it wouldn't be good practice for us."

Overall, the apartments would generate approximately 1,433 daily vehicle trips, according to a staff report on the project from the city's planning department. The estimated daily trips would decrease approximately 24 percent when com paired to the previously approved plan, which included 130,680 square feet more of commercial space.

However, Mayor Paige Brown told officials Tuesday that she is still worried about the city's infrastructure "not keeping up" with all of the new homes planned in the area.

"I am very concerned about the impact of the traffic relative to the time of day," she said about the project. "I know that overall, the traffic impact is less... but I believe that retail and commercial development (attracts) existing traffic and this is new traffic in our city and it's going to be at a very difficult time of day - at rush out both in the morning and the evening."

A public hearing on the project is scheduled to be held during the council's next full meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5. A final vote is expected to take place two weeks later on Sept. 19. Both meeting will be held at city hall and begin at 6 p.m.

No additional changes to the overall development plans for Hunter Pointe are being proposed. In addition to the departments, the project would also feature 28,000 square feet of general retail or hotel space along with a Mapco gas station and car wash at the corner of Long Hollow Pike and S.R. 386.

Construction would occur in phases, according to a preliminary development schedule submitted to the city's planning department in June. The apartments, if approved, would be finished in the spring of 2019 with the entire project being completed in 2020.

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