A new 456-unit housing development with a grocery store and additional retail space has been approved in Gallatin with street connections to surrounding neighborhoods despite opposition from area residents.
A preliminary master development plan and rezoning request for Windsong was unanimously approved on final reading Tuesday by the Gallatin City Council.
As part of the decision, the 126-acre project planned at the corner of South Water Avenue at State Route 109 will include three road connections to the Halewood Estates and Elk Acres subdivisions from Savannah Avenue, Ryan Avenue and Duncan Street.
“It’s a hard decision, but you’ve got to look out for what’s best for this entire city and the long-range plan for this city,” District 3 Councilman Jimmy Overton said about the need for the connectivity to help keep cars off S.R. 109. “When you keep cutting these streets off and you keep putting people back on these main thoroughfares, you’re only causing more problems.”
Prior to the approval, two amendments – one that would have removed the Duncan Street connection and another that would have added a crash gate on the road that only emergency personnel could use – failed in separate 3-4 votes.
The Gallatin Police Department had previously recommended the street not be connected to Windsong due to existing speeding issues on the road.
“I believe that the project is good and it’s going to be developed,” District 1 Councilwoman Lynda Bradley Love said. “I’ve just been against that Duncan Street connectivity all along.”
District 2 Councilman Steve Camp and At-Large Councilman Shawn Fennell were the only two others that voted with Love in favor of the amendments Tuesday.
Earlier this month, city leaders heard concerns about the development from 16 residents during a public hearing that lasted more than one hour. Two petitions with more than 230 combined signatures were also submitted in favor of eliminating the road connections to the existing neighborhoods.
“Children can often be seen riding bikes and scooters, throwing football, playing tag and having basketball games in our streets,” Ryan Avenue resident Jessica Stanfill said during the May 7 meeting. “When you connect the streets… our traffic will increase significantly making the safety of my children a concern.”
Despite the opposition, the heads of the city’s fire department, economic development agency, public utilities, engineering division and planning department have all previously spoken out in favor of increased road connectivity, which they say is important to have during an emergency or natural disaster.
In addition to the new homes, Windsong will also include a 48,000-square-foot grocery store and eight commercial outparcels along South Water Avenue and S.R. 109, according to plans for the project. Developers have previously stated they are considering a four-story hotel and an indoor climate-controlled storage facility on two of those lots.
The size of the development has also led some neighbors to worry about how the project could impact flooding issues they already have on their properties.
“If you want to see the drainage issues anytime it rains, please come… stand in my yard,” Johnson Street resident Lorie Tuck told city leaders earlier this month. “With adding this many homes (and) businesses to the property that is currently undeveloped, I can’t image the amount of water that is going to push onto our property.”
In an effort to help flooding in the area, engineers have oversized the development’s detention ponds in order to handle a 100-year flood instead of the required 10-year rain event, according to Randy Caldwell, a representative of the project with Regan-Smith Associates. Developers have also committed $100,000 to help with off-site drainage improvements in the area.
Residents have also expressed concerns about how the development will impact nearby schools and infrastructure as well as crime and noise in the area.
Construction of Windsong could start later this year, according to an estimated timeline for the project. It is expected to be completed in October 2023.