By Angie Mayes

Mt. Juliet News Correspondent

More than a dozen Belinda City residents stood in front of the microphone at the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission meeting Thursday night to protest a development that would directly affect their community.

“I understand there is going to be so many commercial lots on 76 acres,” said Betty Evans, who lives on Belinda Parkway. “I understand you’re going to be voting on townhomes or condominiums. This is directly behind my home. According to the plan, we have one of the entrances comes directly behind my fence. We’re in the middle of Belinda City. I don’t understand why there has to be entrances to this built in our neighborhood.”

Paul Leeks lives on Sunset Drive. He said, “I’ve been a resident of Mt. Juliet for 17 years. I was here before Providence was here. I enjoy Belinda Parkway because there’s not that much traffic. There’s never been that much traffic. Children can play on that road. I’ve seen children ride their bikes up and down that road.”

“Now with this project, there is going to be tremendous traffic on that road. If they are going to put restaurants up there, like I’ve heard they’re going to do, how are they going to get their materials up there? They’re going to drive semis up and down the road.”

Belinda Parkway resident Brent Bassett also spoke.

“As I look out my back, I see bats. I see raccoons. I see deer back there,” he said. “There are birds, lizards, things we didn’t experience in Colorado because of the elevation. Now I have to worry about bulldozing and how many years it’s going to take. I hope something else can happen.”

Former commissioner Jim Bradshaw lived at his home in Belinda City since 1990.

“Currently, there are properties available in Providence Marketplace, In Paddocks, where Walmart is.,” he noted. “There’s 500 acres on the east side of Beckwith Road. We’ve been waiting for years for development to start there. I haven’t seen anything.

“There’s Golden Bear Gateway. All the way down to Curd Road, to Bender’s Ferry, to Lebanon Road. I haven’t seen a single development there yet, and that’s been there a while now. There are ample properties all over Mt. Juliet. That’s just a sample of it, not even counting the North side of town.”

Brenda Madden has lived on Belinda Parkway for 32 years.

“One of the entrances to the townhomes will be right across the street from me,” she said. “There is an open field there at this time. I watch all the neighborhood kids play ball in that field. Our schools are already overcrowded. You put townhomes in, that’s more kids. We have new schools being built. They’re overcrowded when they open.”

Mt. Juliet planning director Jennifer Hamblen grew up in Belinda City and said she understood the citizens’ concerns.

“I would like for the residents to know that we, as staff, and you guys have their best interest in mind when we look at these projects,” she said. “We do everything we can to make it better. We cannot stop development, but we can make it better.

“With that being said, I’ve spoken with Joe Haddix, who is the engineer for this project, to have a town meeting [with the residents], because I think there’s been a bunch of misinformation spoken about tonight, and I would like the residents to know and be the most informed they can be when this development does come back for a vote.”

Haddix, who is with Civil Site Design, told the commission, “We would like to ask for a one meeting deferral based on the comments I’ve heard here tonight. I think a town hall meeting would be a great way to address the concerns we’ve heard here tonight.”

Planning Commissioner Chuck Turner asked whether the traffic could be diverted off Belinda Parkway.

“I’ve heard a lot of citizens say about Belinda Parkway. Is there any way to eliminate traffic onto Belinda Parkway for this development?”

Hamblen said, “I think that would be terrible planning to be honest with you. I get what [the residents] are saying, but that would be terrible planning.”

Haddix said, “When this development would tie to the two pieces of property directly east, all the way to the interchange, your retail, your shopping, this is kind of leading you back to the residential and more commercial and business and the townhomes. As this develops, you’re going to see a lot more growth around that interchange.

If we don’t connect to Belinda, the bottleneck gets worse around Rutland and Posey. Right now, we have everybody going down there just to come back around to the retail that everybody wants at this interchange.”

Hamblen is currently collecting information to determine when the town hall meeting will take place at City Hall. For an exact date and time, call the planning office at 615-773-6283.