The Spring Hill Planning Commission approved on Monday the site plan for a new elementary school, proposed to be constructed along Wilkes Lane, just west of Main Street and south of Heritage Middle School.
The approval, however, saw Commissioner Matt Fitterer add a condition of approval that would require developers to add a new road connection on the north end of the property, a condition that was met with opposition from a representative of Williamson County Schools (WCS) present at the meeting.
First announced back in August, the new school has an expected enrollment of around 850-900 students, would be 120,051 square feet, and open in the fall of 2022.
“The school that we’re proposing is very similar to Allendale and Longview [elementary schools]," said Kevin Fortney, who's in charge of construction for WCS. "We feel as though it will add to that site as far as the attractiveness of the building."
Fortney went on to explain that the school was "much needed" due to the rapid growth of northern Spring Hill.
"It’s much needed for our future growth in that area; although we have some space at the existing Heritage [elementary school], it’s very minimal," Fortney said.
"What we’re trying to do is resolve the over-crowdedness that we’re experiencing at Heritage and Longview especially. Even with our new school that was opened up a couple years ago in Thompson’s Station, we’re hitting our limits on that one.”
The only commissioner with any comments was Fitterer, who during the meeting brought up that the Spring Hill Major Thoroughfare Plan - a design document for future growth of the city - stipulates there be a connection from Campbell Station Parkway to Traders Way near Heritage Middle School.
With the new school's site plan only showing one entrance and exit road opposite of Shane Drive on the south end of the site, Fitterer said that he would like to see that road extended to the north.
"I understand there’s potential for some private residential development to come in front of us over the next several months, and it’s likely that that connection would be made through private development," Fitterer said.
"I don’t think your street opposite of Shane Drive is probably the best street [for a connection to Traders Way], but unfortunately right now your site plan is the only site plan we have in front of us."
Fitterer then proposed adding a new condition of approval for the project, mandating that developers extend the proposed road opposite of Shane Drive be extended to the north property line.
"I understand that doesn’t fit well with what you guys desire for the school, [and] I would agree with you that it’s probably not in the school’s best interest, but until we have that private development in front of us where we can ensure that connection, this is really the only opportunity we have," Fitterer said.
"We wouldn’t be serving Spring Hill well to not take advantage of the opportunity now."
Speaking on behalf of WCS, Fortney said that he strongly opposed the suggestion given that the school would be private property.
"We have no objection to extending the ability of development that occurs around the school to extend connectivity by trails and so forth," Fortney said.
"One of the things that we have agreed to is putting in the 12-foot connectivity along the entire frontage of the school site. They’ll also be connectivity going up the main entrance road with sidewalks and so forth, but to say that we could agree to putting a thoroughfare through school property, we could not agree to that."
Fortney's opposition did not make Fitterer falter, however, with Fitterer accepting his opposition to the proposal while standing firm on his position.
"I understand, I didn’t expect you’d agree," Fitterer said.
"I think in a perfect world [the] private residential development would be here on the same agenda and we could deal with that connection through their property, but unfortunately it’s not."
With the new condition of approval in place, the Planning Commission approved the school's site plan with a vote of 6-0.
Before shovels hit the dirt on the project, the proposed site for the school will need to see a zoning change approved. The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen will hear that zoning change request on Monday, Oct. 19.