By Jared Felkins

By Angie Mayes

Special to The Democrat

The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners on Monday narrowly passed an ordinance to rezone and adopt the Mountain Brook Place property, which will be the home of Mountain Brook Place, a senior living community at Old Mt. Juliet Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road.

The measure was up for a first reading. The final reading will be at the Sept. 10 commissioners’ meeting.

The community will feature a three-story structure with 106 bedrooms and 18 independent units known as villas on the 7.89-acre site.

The vote was 3-2, with commissioners Ray Justice and Brian Abston voting against the measure.

Justice said he was unhappy with some of the comments made by a partner in the development company who allegedly called the staff “idiots” and “demeaned the city commissioners. We hold you to the standards we have in Mt. Juliet, and you and your people lack credibility.”

Abston said while the residents rarely have the police called on them, they are people who are a demand on other emergency services such as fire and ambulance services.

“They are a burden on our emergency system who frequent these facilities weekly,” he said. “It creates a demand for additional staff.”

Mayor Ed Hagerty said he had nothing but positive things to say about the facility. He said there is a demand for senior living housing.

“Most of the facilities in town are full,” he said. “It’s a three-story but looks like a two-story because one of the stories is below grade.”

District 3 Commissioner Art Giles said he had heard only comments from people “who were upset that it didn’t pass the last time.”

Hagarty said, “I believe it is my responsibility to get facilities like this here. A lot of people who live here don’t want to leave Mt. Juliet. If the center is here, it is home.”

Two issues on the agenda regarding the adoption of the land for the proposed Green Hill High School and a plan of services for the area were deferred until Sept 10. Commissioners had questions for Wilson County Schools Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall, who was unable to attend the meeting due to his attendance at a school board meeting.

Prior to the commission meeting, the commissioners held a workshop to discuss the renovation of Old Lebanon Dirt Road.

WSP, an engineering consultant firm in Nashville, presented its plan for the road project. Mt. Juliet engineer Andy Barlow helped with the presentation.

The road is 3.5 miles and extends from Mt. Juliet Road to the Wilson-Davidson counties line. Public meetings revealed numerous comments about what could or should be done with the road.

From protection of a historic wall west of Jackson Trail and turn lanes at various intersections, to sidewalks and bike paths and speeding, were among the concerns by citizens, according to a PowerPoint presentation. In addition to the rock wall, there is a cemetery, which has to be planned around.

WSP offered three options for the road, one with two lanes and an additional turn lane, with sidewalks and bike paths on each side. That project, known as Section 1, is expected to cost nearly $17.7 million.

WSP’s presentation said improved traffic flow, the plan with the safest of the three presented and the fact that there are walking areas on both sides of the road, were plusses for the project. The cons were it is the most expensive, would have major property impacts, could encourage speeders and could only be done in short segments due to budget commitments.

Section 2, which has a sidewalk on one side of the south side of the road, could cost about $16.1 million. Improved traffic flow, increased safety due to the center lane and a multi-use path along one side of the road were the comments under the pros. Cons included the project was at moderate cost and would have moderate property impacts. It could encourage a higher rate of speed along the roadway. Also, bikers and walkers would have to share a path, according to the presentation.

The third section was the least safe of the three, according to the PowerPoint presentation from the company. The cost is nearly $14.7 million.

It had the lowest cost and would allow more of the road to be improved at once. There would be turn lanes only at certain intersections and a multi-use path would be located on the south side. The items, which were noted as cons, were although the least safe, it would still be an improvement compared the roadway as it stands today. Also, pedestrians and cyclists would have to share a 10-foot path. That was information from the PowerPoint presentation.

The city has about $4 million set aside for funding the road, according to City Manager Kenny Martin, who said the rest of the funding for the project would be set aside “by the elected body, but often times general monies are set aside or bonds.”

Before the roadway could be built, the city would have to buy right of way from 140 property owners. That could take a year, according to WSP. Final plans could take six months. When that is completed, the projects would be sent out to bid. Construction could begin two years after the city begins right-of-way purchases. It could take up to two more years to complete the first section, according to Barlow.

There is no estimate on right-of-way purchase total, and it would be up to the commissioners to decide which section to approve. In comparison, Golden Bear Parkway was built for about $20 million, Barlow said.

Barlow said the logical breakdown of improvement segments would be Mt Juliet Road to Kelsey Glen Drive first; Kelsey Glen Drive to Chandler Road second; and Chandler Road to the Wilson-Davidson counties line.

“We think that doing the Mt. Juliet Road to Kelsey Glen is the most important one to start with because they contributed money [for the road improvements], and we would complete our commitment to Kelsey Glen [community].”