By RACHAEL LONG / Photos by Rachael Long
If there’s one thing Nolensville residents are good at, it’s rallying support for an issue.
Most recently, it was about saving the doomed Morton-Brittain home. This time, it’s about preventing a residential street, Creekside Drive, from becoming a through street into another neighborhood.
On Tuesday night, the Nolensville Planning Commission will hear the Rocky Fork Road Property Rezoning and Master Concept PUD Plan. Part of that plan includes the connection of Creekside Drive to a proposed future neighborhood.
Those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting may be greeted by a crowd donning red T-shirts and signs that say, “Save Creekside.”
The Committee to Save Creekside was formed to help inform residents about the possible street connection and gather support for its opposition. Through door-to-door petitions, letters to residents, a closed Facebook group and more, the committee has mobilized to make the issue well known and rally community support.
Committee member Chris Gruening said the group is made up of representatives from Ballenger Farms, The Woods at Burberry Glenn and Burberry Glenn, the residential areas that would be most affected by the extension of Creekside.
Gruening said there are 200 acres to the east of Ballenger Farms that were once owned by three individuals. When they collectively decided to sell the land to Beazer Homes, Gruening said it became clear that Beazer would develop the land into more homes, a plan not uncommon in the fast-growing town.
While Gruening said Beazer would prefer to see Creekside dead end into a cul de sac or something similar, the town, he said, would prefer to see Creekside Drive connected.
Connecting the neighborhoods would give emergency vehicles a way to cut through residential streets and respond to emergencies faster.
But it would give everyone else a shortcut, too. And residents fear that the connection will become more of a safety issue than a safety solution.
“People would essentially have an express lane to get all the way from Fly Road past Nolensville Elementary congestion, past Nolensville Road and Rocky Fork congestion, past the downtown area congestion and be able to spit out somewhere to the north…basically bypassing a lot of that congestion,” Gruening said.
That’s bad, he said, because it means “uninvested” drivers from Smyrna or La Vergne could speed through the neighborhoods at rush hour times — when kids get on and off buses, walk to school or play outside.
“There’s just a lot at risk, there,” Gruening said. “We have problems with speeders, we have problems with even homeowners in Ballenger Farms speeding through every day … we have people that go around school buses when their lights are on.”
Gruening said the neighborhood already has some of the most narrow streets in town, at 26-feet wide, where others are closer to 30 or more feet. That becomes an issue if emergency vehicles can’t get past two cars parked on either side of the street.
Driving through Ballenger Farms near Creekside, it’s clear that residents are already concerned about the speeds at which drivers move. Several yellow signs that read “SLOW DOWN” sit in the front of yards near mailboxes for drivers to see as they pass by.
Beazer Homes held a town hall meeting on Feb. 22 in which a representative from Beazer could hear the community’s concerns. Gruening said there were probably more than 100 people in attendance that night, including Mayor Jimmy Alexander.
“We had a pretty candid conversation with [the representative],” Gruening said.
The mayor — who sits on the Planning Commission — also took the opportunity to say a few words and answer questions from the community. His responses, according to Gruening, “were not satisfying to the people at all.”
Many of those same people may show up Tuesday night to show their opposition and have their voices heard by the Planning Commission. Gruening said not everyone who wants to speak may get a chance to, in the interest of time.
There are basically two outcomes from the meeting that Gruening said would satisfy the Committee to Save Creekside.
“The ultimate goal is to have Beazer create a dead end, a permanent dead end, in this new development that would stop any future connection to Creekside Drive,” Gruening said.
If the street is connected anyway, the committee would like to see some type of gate installed which would open only to emergency vehicles and not thru traffic.
“We’ve got a lot of support of the BOMA members,” Gruening said. “But this is essentially 100 percent in the hands of the Planning Commission.”
The Nolensville Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Town Hall, located at 7218 Nolensville Road.