The Red Bank City Commission is giving developer Jay Bell the go-ahead to begin the Midvale Highlands planned unit development on Stringer's Ridge, for which the Planning Commission recommended approval.
Following a public hearing at the commission's May 3 meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to issue Bell a special exceptions permit required by the city's zoning ordinance for him to proceed with the development, which is accessed by a road at 1924 Ashmore Ave.
Many of the nearby residents who opposed the apartment complex Bell originally proposed for the site, dubbed The Oaks on Stringer's Ridge, were present to show their support for the new development of single-family, Craftsman-style homes.
"We feel much better about this project than obviously we did about apartments being there," said Becky Browder, who was there representing an association of residents primarily from Ashmore, Midvale, James and Lyndon avenues.
She said Bell has met with the group numerous times over the past 18 months and the residents are satisfied with the changes he has made to his plans based on their concerns.
"He so far has lived up to what he said, and we expect him to continue with that," Browder said, though traffic on Ashmore still remains a concern for the group.
City Manager Randall Smith said the traffic study conducted in the area by University of Tennessee traffic engineers is not yet ready, adding that the traffic issues on Ashmore extend beyond the effects of the new development.
Browder said the residents appreciate that city officials agreed to lower the speed limit on the south end of Ashmore from 30 to 25 mph, but they are still concerned about construction traffic. She said the association has been supplied with the cellphone numbers of both Bell and the development's contractor so the group will be able to communicate any issues.
Bell said he will be working with Red Bank Public Works Director Tim Thornbury to minimize or mitigate any traffic issues as they arise, and that he plans to set up another meeting with residents before breaking ground to map out the communication process.
In response to Westover Lane resident Roy Teal's question as to whether the variance specified the number of floors, or maximum elevation, of the units, Bell responded that each will be two stories and cannot exceed 35 feet in height from the first floor.
Anne Smith, also of Westover Lane in the Hill Pointe community, asked Bell if the 10-foot old-growth tree line between her townhome and the new development would be preserved.
"There's going to be no hiding my houses from Hill Pointe," Bell said, adding that he is donating 4 acres of land on the back of the property to the Trust for Public Land for a trail that will connect Stringer's Ridge and White Oak parks. "We'll do our best to save every tree we possibly can."
He said he expects building the infrastructure and putting in roads to take about nine months, and the entire project should be completed in less than four years, with plans to build 20 or more homes each year.
"He's going to build a good quality project that's going to help continuously grow the city," Mayor John Roberts said in support of the development.
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