Monteagle Continues to Grapple with Hideaway Subdivision

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Jan. 3 meeting, the Monteagle Planning Commission again took up the site plan for the 82-unit Hideaway residential subdivision. The project faces two major hurdles: one, water and sewer capacity; and two, a variance allowing an exception to Monteagle regulations to address impeded motorist visibility.

The commissioners weighing the Hideaway project issues included newly appointed commissioners Dan Brown, Alec Moseley, Greg Rollins, Dan Sargent, and Katie Trahan; returning commissioners Richard Black and Ed Provost; and Mayor Greg Maloof.

Provost called the sewer capacity question “the elephant in the room.”

“If this gets built, will it leave enough [capacity] for the other [residential developments] being proposed?” a resident asked. He also referenced a state study on water supply that projected Monteagle would run out of water by 2031.

“We don’t understand the water and sewer impact yet,” Provost insisted. “If we don’t have the capacity, we’d have to put a moratorium on growth.”

Taking up a concern related to sewer capacity, Hideaway civil engineer Tram Walker said the proposed sewage removal system called for each lot owner to maintain a grinder pump or step pump to push the sewage into the city’s sewer main, a gravity flow system supplemented with grinder pumps. According to Walker, city engineer Travis Wilson recommended a gravity flow system within the subdivision, arguing the city did not want to assume maintenance of the pumps. The developers objected to the extensive tree cutting gravity flow would require, Walker said. By the system proposed, pump maintenance would fall to lot owners, so the city would incur no cost.

The commission hopes some answers to the sewer capacity and sewage removal concerns will follow from Maloof’s upcoming meeting with Wilson.

Addressing the visibility issue, Walker said by city ordinance motorists needed to be able to see 200 feet in a 30 mph speed zone. The developer’s plan calls for a 25 mph maximum speed limit within the subdivision to meliorate safety concerns, rather than cutting trees and lowering the grade of hills to improve visibility.

Other concerns expressed by commissioners and residents included traffic flow at the Wrens Nest Avenue and Highway 41 entrances and increased traffic flow on Wrens Nest. Walker said a traffic study showed “a negligible” 0.3 second delay at the intersections impacted.

Provost acknowledged the developers had come before the commission multiple times and accommodated many concerns, downsizing the number of lots from 105 to 82 and increasing the residence size from 600 to 800 square feet. However, because the commission tabled the proposal in December, and regulations only allow tabling a proposal once, the commission denied site plan approval pending resolution of the unresolved issues.

The commission will hold a special called workshop at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17, for new commissioner training and to review ordinances previously proposed for amendment or adoption, notably, accessory dwelling units, zoning allowing self-storage units, and expiration of building permits.

The commission elected Provost chair, Black vice chair, and Trahan secretary. Taking minutes will fall to city recorder Debbie Taylor to free the secretary to participate in meeting discussion and data analysis.

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