Murfreesboro

The Murfreesboro City Council voted 6-1 on first reading to approve the rezoning request for the Sanders Corner commercial development despite traffic and safety concerns from neighbors.

Councilman Rick LaLance was the only “no” vote at the council’s regular meeting last Thursday.

The 22,000 square-foot development is planned for West Northfield Boulevard in three phases and includes a gas station and convenience store, a multi-purpose building and office space.

The development, under different ownership, had previously come before council in 2019 but was deferred with no return date.

Matt Taylor of Site Engineering Consultants, Inc. said the project plan lists a few prohibited uses for the buildings on site, which would include beer and tobacco markets, vape shops, pawn stores and check-cashing facilities as primary uses.

“Really our vision for the property is to create a neighborhood commercial hub where you can stop on the way home, stop on the way to work, you get to know these employees and they know you,” said Taylor, who listed weight loss centers, financial services and restaurants as potential uses.

The hours of operation have also been extended by one hour and will run from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. with any liquor store being limited to 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

A two-phase extension of the stub street Oakhaven Drive was also proposed to provide more accessibility. The entire rezoning with the extension in place was approved by the city’s planning commission in June with the condition that speed cushions be implemented to control the heavier traffic.

Assistant Planning Director Matthew Blomeley said the city would have to consider one of its other traffic calming measures because speed cushions are still in the pilot phase.

Right turning lanes will be added on Northfield and Sulphur Springs Road to allow drivers to access the site, and an additional left turning lane will be added on Northfield.

Mayor Shane McFarland said he was not in favor of the changes to Oakhaven Drive, asking if the applicant would be opposed to removing it. Taylor said it wouldn’t be an issue.

Five homeowners living near the development voiced their concerns about the heavy traffic and potential hazards the development could pose for its younger and older populations.

John Knox, who lives in the cul de sac on Oakhaven, mentioned the confusion the change may pose for Emergency Medical Services should they have to respond to a call in the area.

“Leave Oakhaven Drive as is,” said Knox. “We will not have any difficulties. We will continue to have our safety, and we will continue to be one way in and one way out, and everybody knows what’s going on in that neighborhood.”

Three other residents who spoke each pointed out that the development does not align with the 2035 Land Use Plan that does not prohibit a gas station to be built in the residential space.

Randy Johnson, who lives near the storage facility, said that the gas station would not be necessary given the number of alternative options that can be found on either end of Northfield.

The council also unanimously approved the 5.4-acre rezoning request to build the city’s new transit center to feature three buildings along Bridge Avenue and Highway 99 to be used for passenger pickup, bus maintenance and storage.

Murfreesboro resident Richard Baines was the only individual to speak on the item during the public hearing, requesting that council defer it until an updated look at the Bridge Avenue intersection could be provided.

Transportation Director Jim Kerr clarified that the city had received documentation from TDOT about what the widening project would look like. He said there would be a left, right and thru traffic lanes as well as a receiving lane heading eastbound. Some updated pedestrian signals will also be included.