A 66-acre tract at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 51, Interstate 55 and Interstate 269 had been eyed as an ideal spot for the tree-shaded campus of a national corporate headquarters.
However, after languishing on the market for several years with a corporate headquarters in mind, developers have successfully sought a reclassification of the property from a PUD, or planned unit development, to R-12, single-family residential. The action came at Tuesday's Hernando Board of Aldermen meeting.
The property, owned by Cal Wilkins, is located at 230 U.S. Hwy. 51 South, bordered by Green T Road West and several subdivisions to the south and east.
Bob Ginn represented Wilkins at the board meeting and in the development process.
Jared Darby, former Planning Director for the City of Hernando, who is acting in the basis of a contract planner, said the site of the 66-acre tract is known as the Crossroads Planned Unit Development.
Darby said the tract is needed for "continued growth of residential," within Hernando.
"At that time, there was a real push for corporate (office) headquarters, and a major effort was made to push that," Darby said. "The interest has not been there. Certainly, there is a need for residential housing."
The Hernando Planning Commission has recommended a zoning map change from PUD to R-12 single family residential zoning.
Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Miller disagreed that the city needed to make the change from PUD to residential.
"I ride through the city and see so many incomplete subdivisions," Miller said. We just rezoned commercial in that area," said Miller, referring to properties for the nearby Kubota dealership and a seafood restaurant. "When I ride through, that (assessment) doesn't match that statement."
Darby said there are approximately three subdivisions within the city which are 25 percent complete. "Five are still under construction," added Darby. "Yes, you have vacant lots but those vacant lots have been bought by developers. Our building permits are through the roof."
Darby said the upscale subdivision of Winningham is a prime example, with banks that came into possession of property after the crash of 2008, selling off those properties to developers who are framing houses and developing home sites.
"At some point, we are going to run out of lots," Darby said.
Ward 3 Alderman Gary Higdon was in favor of the zoning change.
"It's a nice area to develop," Higdon said. "It's residential all the way to Commerce from there."
Ginn, with Land Development Resources, said the PUD was first approved in 2007 and since that time, the property has been marketed as a corporate headquarters site.
"We did not get one offer," Ginn said.
Ginn conceded the market can change but he said the property is better suited to residential classification.
Darby said for the purposes of ease for the city planning department and developers, an R-12 classification is "governed by two pages in the zoning book."
By contrast, regulations and classifications for a PUD is "yea thick."
"R-12 is the simpler process," Darby said.
"Simpler yes, but why are people wanting to move here?," Ward 4 Alderman Michael McLendon said. "Quality of life."
"It just limits our controlled growth," Ward 6 Alderman Jeff Hobbs said.
"I don't mind doing a PUD to keep quality of life," McLendon said.
McLendon took issue with the smaller lot sizes planned for the development.
"Lot sizes don't necessarily dictate (quality of the home)," conceded McLendon. "Millennials want concrete because they don't want to cut it (grass). I like being on my Kubota and cutting my acre and a half."
Resident Mike Faulkner also expressed concerns, mostly about traffic.
"There is a need for houses," Faulkner said. "$300,000 homes are nice but there would be a lot of traffic there."
With 12,000-feet lot size minimums, Ginn said there would be approximately 120 home sites or more likely between 80 to 100 homes.
"So, we're going to do smaller lots," said McLendon, pointing out the adjoining subdivision has larger lots or R-15, or 15,000 square-feet lots.
"I don't know but I think zoning is supposed to enhance not take down," McLendon said.
"R-12 has a lot less grass to cut," quipped Ginn.
Darby said the size of lots and homes could be discussed once plat approval for the subdivision is brought back before aldermen.
"The subdivision would come before the board 20 to 30 lots at a time," Darby said.
McLendon, who later voted for the rezoning, said he lamented the change.
"It's such a great piece of property for commercial — I hate to see it (being developed as residential)."
Miller opposed the rezoning, the only alderman to do so when it came time for the vote.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.