County leaders OK $251K to update growth plan

Sumner County Commission members recently approved funding for an update to the county’s Comprehensive Plan in order to plan for growth in the county’s unincorporated areas.

Sumner County leaders voted recently to pay the Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC) $251,131 to conduct a comprehensive growth plan for the county’s unincorporated areas.

Resolution 2104-04 appropriates the funds from the capital projects local fund balance in order to pay for an update to the current comprehensive plan that was adopted by the Sumner County Commission in September of 2010.

“Over the intervening decade the county has experienced considerable growth and demographic change,” wrote Josh Suddath, director of the county’s development services department, in a report to the Sumner County Regional Planning Commission dated Nov. 20, 2020.

Suddath explained that several changes have occurred since the original plan including planned and completed construction improvements to key transportation corridors like State Route 109 and State Route 386; construction of new county and school facilities; the adoption of county zoning and subdivision regulations; and adoption of a unique historic overlay district in Castalian Springs in 2013.

Additionally, many of the files related to the original plan have been lost over the years, making it difficult for county staff to make updates to the overall document.

“The result has been that the Comprehensive Plan document has essentially been ‘frozen in time’ for some years, even as existing conditions have continued to evolve across the county,” said Suddath.

At Sudduth’s urging, planning commission members passed a resolution in November asking the full commission to fund an update to the plan.

The County Commission considered the request on April 19.

The GNRC has done or is currently working on similar plans for Rutherford County and the City of Gallatin, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt told commissioners.

“And I think it’s something that’s desperately needed,” said Holt. “Without any plan, you have no plan for growth and it’s occurring rapidly.”

District 1 Comm. Moe Taylor said that he hoped that citizen input would be an important part of the plan.

Commission Chairman Scott Langford agreed that the updated comprehensive plan would include public hearings and public input.

Comm. Jeremy Mansfield asked if the updated plan would include how to pay for new growth like roads and schools without raising property taxes.

“How is this growth going to pay for itself – that should be part of this plan, if we’re going to talk about growth comprehensively,” Mansfield asked.

Budget Committee Chairman Chris Taylor said the plan will detail what infrastructure is currently in place and make recommendations regarding zoning, but added leaders could vote to hire someone else to explore that issue at a later date.

Comm. Merrol Hyde asked Holt to provide more information about the GNRC – like the organization’s goals, strategies and purpose.

“I’d like to see us head toward a system somehow where we would take infrastructure, not all infrastructure but major infrastructure such as schools, roads, and say we’re not doing any more changing of zoning until we have adequate roads and adequate schools to accommodate that growth…,” said Hyde. “And at least guarantee that we will have those things taken care of so that we won’t be in a situation of the tail wagging the dog.”

Hyde moved to refer the funding back to the Budget Committee for further study. That motion failed 9 to 14.

“There’s the old adage that failing to plan is planning to fail,” said Comm. Baker Ring, “and right now we don’t really have an effective plan.”

Ring added he saw no point in delaying the plan and that the county had the resources available.

“This is about 10 percent of the money we have in our capital fund and we have two-and-a-half months left [in this budget cycle.] There’s no reason to delay this, we might as well get it started now.”

The resolution to fund the update to the county’s Comprehensive Master Plan passed 17 to 6.