A somewhat contentious annexation and rezoning request dominated Thursday’s brief meeting of the Murfreesboro City Council.
The request came from landowner Jerry Alsup for property located near the corner of Cherry Lane and Lebanon Highway. It gained approval on second reading.
The lone no vote on the annexation portion of the request came from Councilman Eddie Smotherman, who motioned for approval of the immediately subsequent rezoning request.
The property in question is currently zoned by the county as single family residential, and Alsup is seeking rezoning to commercial fringe and commercial highway for the two parcels, which are adjacent to historic property owned by Rutherford County native Jim Ridley, a board member of Oaklands Historic House Museum who owns the historic Evergreen home on the adjacent property.
The 190-year-old home is designated as an historic property by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and saw considerable activity during the Civil War as the residence of the area’s only doctor, Thomas C. Black. The home is significant also because Black hid Confederate escapees in his upstairs quarters and was caught in the act by federal troops.
Ridley could not attend the first reading of the request before the council in early January, but his attorney, Dick Kidwell, was present to voice opposition to the proposal.
“My client, Mr. Ridley, is very much opposed to further needless commercial development adjacent to one of Rutherford County’s most historic treasures,” he said, further suggesting the proposal is an example of illegal “spot zoning.”
“Mr. Ridley is very sick at the moment, and I speak on his behalf,” a visibly emotional Kidwell said. “There is nothing to stop stores selling liquor and cigarettes being built next to this historic property and the youth soccer complex across the street.”
Area realtor Bill Jakes, a member of Oaklands as well and past officer for the Rutherford County Historical Society, also opposed the request, noting the house was built by Samuel P. Black in 1822, who was headmaster of Murfreesboro’s Bradley Academy where President James K. Polk attended school in his early years before meeting his wife and Murfreesboro native, Sarah Childress Polk.
“There was a time when the Oaklands Historic House Museum was being considered for demolition, and now it is one of the landmarks we are most proud of,” he said. “Mr. Ridley’s home could be just such a jewel, and I urge you to think long term about the possibilities for such a landmark in north Murfreesboro.”
After gaining passage on second reading, the request must pass third reading at the City Council’s next meeting before annexation and rezoning is granted.