White House development expands, golf course nixed
The Tennessean, 2016/02/19
An expanded preliminary master plan that calls for 949 homes to be built at the Bear Creek at Burrus Ridge property in White House is moving forward after gaining unanimous approval from city leaders on second reading Thursday.
The project was first unveiled last summer during a meeting between representatives from Walton International and the City of White House and originally called for more than 800 homes to be built in at least two residential neighborhoods, according to City Administrator Gerald Herman.
The plan presented Thursday calls for a mix of residential development, including 181 townhomes, on nearly 413 acres of land. The land was being developed into an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and residential community until the original developer declared bankruptcy in 2009. Walton International acquired it in 2014.
Representatives from Walton International have officially discarded any plans for a golf course, opting instead for an all-residential community, according to White House City Planner Reed Hillen.
Despite that loss, Walton’s development will offer several amenities, including “several small green spaces and parks as well as making use of the natural environment with several walking trails,” Hillen wrote in a memo to the White House Board of Mayor and Alderman.
Current plans call for eight phases of construction, but no timeline has been provided as to when development could begin or how long each phase would take to complete.
Representatives from Walton International were present at the city meeting Thursday, but they did not speak publicly during the proceedings. They also referred all media questions to a company spokesperson following the meeting. Company officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday.
White House City Administrator Gerald Herman told the board prior to its Thursday vote that company officials were on track to secure a final approval from the city’s planning commission.
“Traffic studies have been completed and the developer plans to update the data as the phases build out,” he said.
Development triggers city code change
White House city officials are also taking steps to minimize the financial burden of the development on Walton. Public Works Director Joe Moss asked board members to approve an ordinance that will allow the company to pay its sewer capacity fees over time instead of all at once.
The city’s current ordinance requires developers to pay each sewer connection fee, or $2,500 per unit, before construction begins on site, Moss said.
“[For Burrus Ridge, developers] would have to pay about $2.3 million before they started anything,” Moss said. “I just don’t think that’s fair to impose that on them right away. I mean, it’s not like we need the money up front.”
White House Mayor Mike Arnold agreed.
“We have worked pretty hard the last several years to try and be more developer-friendly,” he said. “This is just another step in that direction.”
The ordinance changing the sewer code passed unanimously on first reading. It is scheduled to come back before the board for second reading during their regular March meeting.
Walton International paid $1.675 million for the land at Burrus Ridge, which was valued at $2.75 million, officials said in 2014.
The purchase was Walton's second in Tennessee.
Prior to Walton’s purchase, the land was being developed by local businessman Chip Hellmann before he filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
During the last year and a half, significant movement has taken place at the property. Stakes in the property were sold to foreign investors, mostly from Asia, ahead of the development plan, a company spokesman confirmed last year.
Walton has completed several studies on the property, including a marketing analysis to determine the best product mix and a site analysis to determine the property's physical constraints and attributes, the spokesman said.
This article originally appeared on The Tennessean.