The Murfreesboro Planning Commission unanimously decided last week to defer the vote for a 24,658 square-foot commercial center and gas station to be built along Medical Center Parkway and Silohill Lane.

The initial site review for the property was approved at the commission’s meeting in April, but concerns for traffic safety and signage on a proposed 10,000 square-foot liquor store were discussed at length.

Project Planner Margaret Ann Green presented a few aspects of the project plan that have been modified.

Direct access onto Medical Center Parkway has been nixed from the plan because of conflicts with the city’s long-term roadway improvement plans. Instead, a second entrance into the hospitality campus has been added onto Silohill Lane.

Green also said the position of the gas canopy has been shifted toward the intersection of Medical Center Parkway and Silohill Lane and Building One has been shifted west.

The developer originally requested a second driveway from the lot on Silohill Lane onto Medical Center Parkway.

A right-turn lane was proposed in the initial design, but the commission was not in favor due to the number of U-turns across multiple lanes of traffic that would likely be made by drivers headed toward Asbury Lane.

The developer agreed to meet the city’s “most restrictive” signage guidelines in an attempt to ensure higher quality signage is used. Green said the city doesn’t have the power to regulate the wording on the signs.

Vice-Chair Ken Halliburton asked if signage in the storefront’s windows could be regulated. Sign Administrator Teresa Stevens said only 25% of the windows could be covered with signs and about two-and-a-half square-feet of the door space can be used for the business’ name and hours of operation.

Assistant City Attorney David Ives said the planning commission could consider creating a condition to allow no window signs on this particular building on the campus.

“You’re not restricting speech. That would be a time, place and manner,” said Ives, “Not what they say, but where and how they say it.”

Councilman Shawn Wright stood by his decision that he didn’t want a liquor store to be the introduction drivers coming in from Interstate 24 receive when entering the city.

Halliburton, who said he is concerned by the lack of control the city has over signage, agreed.

“Whether it’s a liquor store or a grocery store or whatever type of business, it’s always going to be about the owner and what the owner chooses to do,” said Halliburton. “I don’t want to limit anybody from doing business. I think the project looks good. I’m just afraid of what might happen down the road.”

Landscape Architect Rob Molchan with Site Engineering Consultants, Inc., requested that the proposal be deferred to meet with the clients and evaluate the uses on the property.

The commission also voted to approve a zoning application for the Murfreesboro Transit Center. The 5.4-acre lot along Bridge Avenue and New Salem Highway will be used for passenger pickup, bus maintenance and storage.

Transportation Director Jim Kerr said the facilities will be used solely for the city’s Rover bus system.

The center will also feature covered seating, ticket sales and restrooms.

The commission voted to approve plans to schedule a public hearing for the transit center as well as three individual hearings for the rights-of-way of Berry Place, Burns Court and Essex Court for July 14.