By Angie Mayes

Special to The Democrat

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission discussed two different issues in two subdivisions as its main topics discussed Thursday night at its meeting.

The first issue, which was on the consent agenda, concerned a cluster mailboxes the city currently requires of new developments, which will eliminate postal boxes at individual homes.

The development, known as Harrington Property on Central Pike, will have 140 mailboxes near the community’s amenity center. The mailboxes would be covered and located next to a small parking lot to be used for parking to get mail.

The Postal Service regulates the type of mailboxes, which can be used in the type of clusters discussed.

“This is our first forte into the mailbox kiosks,” said Commissioner Chuck Turner. “The city will be moving forward with mailbox kiosks, and I want to make sure we get this first one right. What I think we need to discuss as commissioners is how we want this thing to be configured. Will it be easier for the citizens to drive up and have a parking place where they can get out in inclement weather and get their mail? Will they have to get an umbrella to get their mail?”

He said although the kiosk is covered, residents would still have to park and get out of their cars to get the mail.

“I’m just wondering if there are other designs that would be favorable to the developer and the planning commission,” Turner said.

Joe Haddox with Civil Site Design Group represented the developer. He said he is amiable to work with the planning commission and admitted the mailboxes would be better if placed on the north side of the parking area, which is on the opposite side of the amenity center.

He said with the configuration, the mailbox kiosks would be better to connect to the main road, known as Road A. There are no driveways along Road A, he said.

There will be 115 homes in the subdivision and 140 mail slots, Haddox said.

At one point, Postal Service officials spoke to the planners and said they could also split the number of boxes into multiple kiosks throughout the property.

“Some developers can spread them out or have one separate location,” said planner Jennifer Hamblen.

Commissioner Art Giles said he was concerned about residents getting to the mailboxes.

“If you go to the [Mt. Juliet Post Office] you can’t even find a place [to park],” he said. “Think about in a subdivision with everyone trying to get their mail. You don’t want them queueing up to get their mail.”

Hamblen said no matter what the commission regulates, the post office has the final say on the type of mailboxes in the community.

The item was a part of the consent agenda, a cluster of developments or projects, which were discussed in the past and could be voted on with one vote. The commission unanimously voted to approve the consent agenda.

The second issue concerned sidewalks in Stonehaven, which is in Wilson County, but partially within Mt. Juliet’s urban growth boundary.

The developers said they wished to not have to build sidewalks on the property for two reasons, the topography of the property would make it hard to build, and because of the hills, it would not be popular among pedestrians.

“There have been a lot of discussion about this project before the meeting,” Hamblen said.

Tom White, who represented the developers on the property, said he preferred not to have to build the sidewalks.

He said, “The motion should be to approve this development without the sidewalks. The property is in the county. It’s a half-mile or so from the city limits. It’s in all likelihood never going to be annexed by the city.”

He said considering the topography of the land, the county requires greenways be constructed on the property, rather than a sidewalk.

“Sidewalks required by this committee would be duplicative,” White said. “The topo on the site would be difficult and would be expensive. With respect to the sidewalks, there’s nothing they would connect to. This is a classic case of sidewalks to nowhere.”

According to city regulations, the commission had the authority to allow only “alternative pedestrian” walkways, White said.

Planning commissioner Luke Winchester said the development is near a key intersection with Benders Ferry Road, and he has seen no traffic improvements the city would deal with if the development were to eventually be annexed into the city.

“If you put them off on Cooks Road, the road has terrible ingress and egress, as well as site distance, challenges,” Winchester said.

He also said that the development is designed to connect to other developments within the city’s Urban Growth Boundaries.

“You have various stubs on your plat that says, ‘we’re going to go west; we’re going to go east, and we’re putting numerous houses on a continuous cul-de-sac,’” Winchester said. “So, when someone has a wreck at the end, you’re not going to get people in and out. To me, the whole subdivision is a massive safety concern from the standpoint of getting safety services in there. And you top it off with another continuous cul-de-sac right at the entrance.”

Even though those issues were brought up during the discussion, the only motion was to vote on the sidewalk construction.

In the end, the commission voted unanimously to require the developer to build sidewalks throughout the community.