Prestwick Place in Spring Hill

Spring Hill’s rezoning of just under 720 acres has become a point of contention due to growth outpacing tax revenues.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously this week in favor of rezoning two large parcels of land from C-3 to I-2. The former is a districting designation for commercial, agricultural and traditional neighborhoods — the latter being the most likely outcome — but I-2 codifies a General Industrial district. Specifically, this allows for the establishment of data centers, certain types of manufacturing centers, tech facilities, light industrial and other facilities.

The decision reflects the city’s recognition of its own growth by preparing for significant change. The industrialization of the city is viewed by some like City Administrator Pam Caskie as having begun with the Saturn plant that has since become the General Motors facility. Now, the city needs a greater daytime populace according to her, which means “more people working here during the day.”

“It has been a long-held understanding that in property tax, residential homes cost a city money,” Caskie said. “Commercial breaks even and industrial usually offsets the commercial property. The advantage in this state is sales tax, but that means the people who live here need to shop here. We need restaurants and shopping and entertainment and things that sales tax generate.”

Residential growth, therefore, impinges upon the city’s ability to fund necessities like emergency services infrastructure. Caskie said that — despite significant need for another police station and fire station for example — such capital improvement projects are unaffordable at present due to the lack of sales tax revenue due to the retail and restaurant dearth to serve what the U.S. Census found in 2020 to be a population of about 50,000 people versus the less than 1,500 people counted in 1990.

“All you need to do is take a quick walk or drive around your neighborhood and you will see the dumpsters popping up all over the place like spring flowers signaling a variety of ongoing home renovation projects,” according to Jarod Tanksley, a broker with Brentview Realty.

Relatedly, this comes after BOMA approved funding for the Chamber of Commerce as an investment in tourism. The decision came with significant concerns from residents and even aldermen on the basis that the town was not attracting people due to attractions not being present. Alderman Hazel Nieves cited local survey respondents as saying that, before promoting tourism, the city should develop a walkable, urban district downtown.

The rezone has also preempted the development of as many as 1,400 houses for which there is currently no road or utility infrastructure. Caskie also acknowledged that some residents in the rural parts around the rezoned land are against big development.

“But from the city’s perspective, reducing the number of housing units and going for something we need more of is important to the overall city development,” Caskie added.

The 717 earmarked acres lie in Maury County, but plans could also spill over into Williamson County in the future.