Image Credit: mtjuliet-tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
Mount Juliet city commissioners passed a resolution on Monday night to expand South Greenhill Road as the northern section of a road project being called the Western Connector thus saving a family farm that has been continually worked since 1789.
Of three options outlined in city documents, two would directly affect the Ligon family’s farm.
“This farm feeds all of our livestock plus provides horse hay to the surrounding communities, while providing the majority of our income,” Andy Ligon told The Tennessee Conservative.
Ligon, who also runs a business as an equine veterinarian, reached out to the community at Christmas encouraging them to fill out comment cards regarding the proposed connector. An online petition to save Cloydland Farm has garnered 2,257 signatures so far.
The resolution was approved after a 4 to 1 vote, with Mayor James Maness being the sole no vote. However, the resolution is not binding legislation.
Bill Ligon, who operates the farm with his son, Andy, said the outcome of the vote was “bittersweet.”
“The sweet part is that four commissioners see the value of preserving farmland and using an existing road that is already there,” he said in a statement to the Tennessean. “The bitter part is that the resolution is nonbinding and can be changed.”
Ligon fears a future commission with new members may choose differently on how to go about finishing the roadway. “This is going to be hanging over our shoulders,” he said.
By choosing to expand South Greenhill Road, two other family farms would also be spared. The Tate family’s farm and Spry Valley Farms are both over 4 generations in continuous family farm production.
City Commissioner Ray Justice believes using South Greenhill Road for the project is a better option than going through farms and provides an opportunity to correct a road that he says is “subpar.” But Destinee Smith, along with her grandmother Linda Smith, disagree.
The pair live on South Greenhill, and own property there that has been in their family for nearly 130 years. Destinee Smith told The Tennessee Conservative that her family has already given land to the city twice for various projects and opposes more land being lost due to the proposed bypass.
Smith’s great-grandparents gave land to the City of Mount Juliet in the early 1900’s to straighten out some “S” curves on South Greenhill. Approximately twenty years ago, the city took more land via eminent domain for the West Wilson Water Company.
The Smiths, along with residents of Greenhill Estates, Mt. Vernon Estates, Mt. Vernon Woods, and Willoughby Station will all be affected if South Greenhill is widened, with some homeowners losing their front yards.
Many Mount Juliet residents are displeased with what they feel is a lack of infrastructure to back up the rapid growth that the city, and Wilson County in general, has been experiencing in recent years.
In a reply to a comment on Nextdoor that said that Mount Juliet is “getting out of control”, Commissioner Justice disagreed, and said that the city is, in fact, “gaining control.”
“We will never make a decision that is supported 100% but we have to make decisions that support lower density and provide infrastructure that serves the largest number,” Justice said.
Mayor Maness does not anticipate any work to be done to advance the Western Connector anytime soon, projecting that it will be years from now. Other Mount Juliet road projects are much further along.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.