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Developer to downsize plans to ease neighborhood worries

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Many neighbors in and near the Bartlett Historic District have worried since April about a developer’s hopes to build six homes on one acre in the midst of their larger homes and spacious lots. They got a glimmer of hope Monday night.

At an informal gathering of residents before the city’s Planning Commission’s meeting, the developer, David Andrews of Memphis, said he’s willing to downsize the project to just four homes and change which way some of the houses face. He was on hand to talk with the commission about his request for a variance to proceed with the project.

The property in question is on the northwest corner of Sycamore View and Main Street, and it’s considered to be a rural cross-section road. It’s adjacent to but not included in the Historic District.

“We’re not here to destroy your neighborhood,” he assured a crowd of about a dozen citizens. He was accompanied by his engineer, and two city officials also were on hand to answer questions.

The questions and worries came thick and fast: The planned residential development doesn’t fit with the neighborhood. He’ll cut down all the trees. The new homes will face the back of a block of businesses. Sycamore View residents will face their new neighbors’ garages. Six homes probably mean 12 cars, and a neighbor doesn’t want that much traffic right next to her home. He’s over-valuing the properties compared to similar ones nearby, and they will become rental properties when he can’t get his asking price.

In response, Andrews compromised on residents’ request that he build just three homes and said he would agree to four. He assured them the homes would be single-family dwellings, not townhouses. He’s willing to reconfigure the properties and add more driveways. He will cut the minimum number of trees necessary to place the houses on the lot, and the city requires a tree survey that becomes part of the site plan approval. He plans to landscape the back of the business property that will face the new homes. He will comply with the city’s requirements for drainage and other factors if he builds. He has no intention of building for the rental market. And he won’t build if the appraisal shows he can’t get a decent price per square foot from buyers.

By the time the Planning Commission kicked off an hour later, residents were cautiously optimistic enough that no one stood up to speak out against the development during its public hearing.

Andrews asked for and received a 30-day deferral to give him time to modify plans and talk further with nearby residents about their concerns. Terry Emerick, director of planning and economic development for Bartlett, told commission members, “I think the neighbors are willing to make an effort.”

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