People who live around a proposed warehouse-industrial complex in Leanna say they have concerns about the development being built on a narrow road amid farms and rural homes, while one of developers says it would be the highest and best use.
Developers want to build the 2.2 million-square-foot Sulphur Springs Industrial Park on two parcels totaling about 175 acres along the western side of Interstate 840, south of Sulphur Springs Road and north of Shacklett Road.
According to documents provided to the county, the developers are Kendall Barrett of Murfreesboro, doing business as 840 Development Group LLC, and Wright Brothers Construction Co. LLC. Their engineer is SEC Inc.
The developers pulled it twice from the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission’s agenda, most recently about an hour before a Nov. 9 meeting where neighbors planned to speak.
Even though the planning commission meetings are being held on Zoom for public access, community member Elizabeth Havert-Clark said she and her neighbors had planned to go into the courthouse to speak.
Application will return
The matter will still be coming before the planning commission at a future date, Barrett said. He pulled it because the county needed some additional information about utilities.
Havert-Clark said the farm she and husband, Thomas Clark, own is bordered on two sides by the project.
“It is not an appropriate place for an industrial complex,” she said.
The development would be 50 feet from her bedroom window, Havert-Clark said.
Sulphur Springs Road is a two-lane county road with 30 feet of right-of-way, county documents say. The county’s Long-Range Transportation Plan calls for widening the road to five lanes. Shacklett is a two-lane county road.
Portions of the two lots are within a 100-year floodplain, the county says. The properties have been the subject of discussions for possible rezoning in recent years. Most recently, the applicants appeared before the planning commission on May 11 to ask for a “Light Industrial (LI) development for local, state, national, and/or international businesses that need larger tracts of land for their businesses.”
The commission denied the request and asked the developers to reapply. Plans submitted to the county show no specific user.
Area residents have a Facebook group of about 370 called “Stop the Sulphur Springs Industrial Complex.” They have a petition with more than 400 signatures, Havert-Clark said.
Flooding is one concern, she said, and the roads are not suitable for such a project.
The area is in County Commissioner Michael Wrather’s District 3, and he has been working with residents, she said.
Wrather said all of Leanna, even at I-840, is residential, and there are about 100 homes in a subdivision just across Shacklett from the proposed development.
“That’s an issue,” Wrather said.
He said he also is concerned that the developers say they plan to use the site’s existing sinkholes and streams as part of their drainage plan, which he said could lead to further flooding. He said the nearby Swamp Leanna Road is named that for a reason.
Barrett said state law requires any development to address water runoff, and it cannot flood neighbors. The neighbors live in flood zones themselves, he said. Regarding traffic concerns, so the PUD says that no traffic will be routed onto Shacklett but instead onto Sulphur Springs to I-840.
The warehouse would have less of an impact on traffic than a residential development, Barrett said.
Wrather said he questions the PUD plan the developers submitted. A PUD should have more controls on the property, he said. A PUD would give the county government more say over a final design, he said, and he called the plan speculative.
One of the neighbors has a 10-acre farm and horses and other livestock, and if the warehouse is built, just across his fence would be a 55-foot-tall building with noise and light pollution.
The commissioner said he questioned whether adequate notice was given.
Wrather said he learned about the Nov. 9 hearing the previous week when a member of the planning commission told him about it. He said it is his understanding that if a developer pulls an item off an agenda, it can automatically move to the following month. He said he called people in his district to inform them.
While the planning commission advertised its Nov. 9 meeting in the Oct. 27 edition of the Murfreesboro Post, the ad did not say what cases would be heard; readers were directed to the commission’s website. The ad says the meeting would be virtual, and anyone who wanted to speak was directed to contact the county for information on how to participate electronically.
The agenda was posted on the county website several days before the meeting, but it requires looking through several pages to find it.
When asked to identify the main benefits of his plan, Barrett said the warehouse would be the highest and best use for the land, there would be less of a traffic impact than residential and less impact on schools. Jobs would be created, and industrial land is taxed at a higher rate than residential.