council apartments

The Murfreesboro City Council is considering limiting approval of future apartment complex developments due to concerns over the infrastructure concerns, including sewer availability. JASON M. REYNOLDS

Murfreesboro citizens may be seeing fewer new apartment complexes in the future.

The Murfreesboro City Council last Wednesday held a lengthy workshop discussion with the Planning Commission about development topics versus infrastructure, especially sewer capacity, future areas for construction and apartments. The meeting was held in the community room of Murfreesboro Municipal Airport’s new terminal.

Sam Huddleston, executive director of development services, said there are about 4,000 multi-family residences that could be developed under current zoning; that includes both townhomes and apartments. The city has a rule of thumb of about 3.5-3.6 units per acre average for density, that varies by housing type. Townhomes would typically have a density of 7-10 units per acre, and multi-family around 16.

Councilmember Shawn Wright, citing city documents, said that about one-fourth of homes are apartment units. During an economic downturn, one-quarter of the population could disappear. That does not include any single-family or townhouse units that are rented.

“We’ve got to get back to a more healthy balance,” he said.

Councilmember Rick LaLance said that data he has seen indicate about one-third of the city’s residences are townhomes.

Mayor Shane McFarland said the city planning staff cannot legally stop developers from applying for zoning for multi-family zoning, but they may inform them about the council’s preference.

Over the last four years, about half of the 9,370 residential permits have been single-family detached and half multi-family/townhomes, Huddleston said.

McFarland said the council has not identified a future Gateway area for development. Staff and council discussion suggested Broad Street or Veterans Parkway at Interstate 840, as well as infill development inside the city core.

There was also discussion about sewer capacity.

The city spent $40 million in 2017 to upgrade the sewer plant, said Utility Enterprises Director Darren Gore. Sewer flow to the plant varies throughout the year, depending on rainfall. The lack of vegetation in the winter means a 3-inch rainfall will impact the system more than the same amount in the summer.

Gore presented a slideshow of sewer statistics. There are 74,968 connections in the city, or 61 percent of the estimated 122,994 possible maximum connections under the current system. A total of 8,295 connections are committed to future developments, for a total of 39,731 available uncommitted connections.

The Overall Creek pump station has 62 percent of promised future connections, he said.

Some upgrades are possible, Gore said. The pump station on County Farm Road has potential for expansion. There are plans to build a pump station for the Cherry Lane area in the northeast. There are plans in the capital budget for sewer expansions.

During discussion, it was mentioned that there are 3,000 to 3,500 sewer connections a year on average. The availability of connections varies from sewer basin to basin, among other factors.

Gore said the numbers do not include impact from annexations.