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Articles

Two Farms Development


2016/04/01






Compiled by Nancy Brannon

The rural town of Thompson’s Station, Tennessee may soon have some big changes coming to the bucolic farming community. Located just south of Franklin amid the rolling hills and pastoral countryside of middle Tennessee, the area is home to equestrian activity, with facilities like the Jaeckle Centre and Tennessee Equine Hospital located here. There are plenty of green pastures with black board fencing, as well as some older established farms. The population was 2,194 at the 2010 census, but it is likely to increase tremendously when a large parcel of land is developed into 950 plus/minus 650 homes and a golf course. Who knew horses played golf?

Since at least January of this year, residents in the Thompson’s Station area have been voicing their opposition to a proposed development of nearly 2,000 acres in the northwest part of town. The proposed development, called Two Farms by Beacon Land Development of Dallas, Texas, “has met sharp community criticism,” the Williamson Herald reported. “The proposed development could bring 800 to 900 homes and a golf course to 1,200 acres north of Hwy 840 and southwest of West Harpeth Road, along Coleman Road.

“A crowd of more than 125 people packed into the Thompson’s Station Community Center [on January 12, 2016] to voice their opinions about the proposed development.” Most of the audience was against it, citing the enormous traffic problems that would be created, environmental damage, and drastically changing the aesthetics of the area, which is currently farmland. Among their environmental concerns were: the loss of beautiful vistas, loss rich agricultural land, loss of wildlife habitat including that for bald eagles, light pollution, and run off from herbicides and fertilizers used on lawns and the golf course that would pollute local streams.

 “The $150 million mixed-use community that could include a Tiger Woods-designed golf course is on the drawing boards for 1,229 acres in Williamson County,” The Tennessean reported. “Planned components of Two Farms at Thompson’s Station include 800 homes, a fitness and health center, a wellness center offering concierge medicine, a town square, a recreation center… The Eagles Rest house on one of the properties will be used as a music venue and for weddings and other gatherings… Michael Abbott, the developer’s president, said Beacon Land… is in discussions with Woods about designing the golf course, but didn't have a contract with him yet.  Abbot said development of the Eagles Rest Farm and Keenan Farm (landowner Thomas Keenan) will initially include 1,229 acres, with the rest to be pursued later.”

Despite community opposition, the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved “rezoning of the 1,229 acres between West Harpeth Road and Coleman Road to a Transect Community and the 732 acres south of West Harpeth Road and north of state Route 840 to a T2 Rural Zone,” the Spring Hill Home Page reported.

Concerned conservationists have started a facebook page to create public awareness of what land changes the Two Farms development would bring, calling it “Two Farms Equals One Nightmare.” They argue that this corridor of rural farmland is needed for the area’s sustainability, clean water, air, food and for the beloved beauty that enhances the region. “Once destroyed, it cannot come back,” they say. Visit their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/twofarmsonenightmare/?fref=nf

Pam Lewis, active member of the Tennessee Preservation Trust, says: “It is crucial for long range planning to consider the effects on the entire region as a whole, in a big picture way. As we are seeing impacts globally, we too must consider impacts regionally and consider our shared legacy. While I understand and respect landowners’ rights to sell their land, I must insist that the property rights and quality of life for existing neighbors must also be respected. Land owners are not entitled to zoning changes and bonus density. I urge buffering in rural areas and land set aside for the common good, for future parks and greenways. There have been many arguments put forth: loss of wildlife habitat, water concerns, fertilizer run off from the golf course, migratory bird route disruption, eagle sanctuary disturbance, loss of fertile agricultural land and rural landscapes, negative impacts on Native American lands and Civil War history. You can tell from the public outcry that the majority of people do not want it.” Other concerned conservation groups are the Land Trust for Tennessee, the Heritage Foundation, and the Harpeth River Watershed.

Thompson’s Station has a long history, dating to the late 1700s. In 1780, a young man named Edward Swanson was the first to stake a claim to land in this area. Thompson’s Station was known as White House in the early 1830s, then Littlebury in 1836, named after then-postmaster Littleberry Starks. In 1856, when Dr. Elijah Thompson donated the land on which the village was built, the name was changed to Thompson’s Station. The first trains rolled into Thompson’s Station in 1855, sparking the village’s growth as a shipping center, where farmers could drive their hogs, sheep and cattle to be loaded onto trains and taken to market. The railroad remained a big part of the town’s life through the 1940s.

Of course, the town was involved in the Civil War. Union troops garrisoned in Nashville and Franklin frequently reconnoitered and foraged for food as far south as Thompson’s Station and Spring Hill. On March 5, 1863 Confederate General Earl Van Dorn defeated Union troops under the command of Colonel John Coburn, who was captured along with 1,220 of his men.

Rex Weeks, Ph.D., Curator of the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville said he has it “on excellent authority that generally the area between West Harpeth and Coleman roads along the West Harpeth River has a very high probability for Native American archaeological sites. At least, two sites have been formerly reported, including a mound with likely burials and a shell-midden with confirmed graves. It is my understanding that a comprehensive professional archaeological survey needs to be conducted. Future archaeological investigations will probably discover lots of additional sites” in the Thompson’s Station area.

On March 29, the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor and Alderman voted, again, on rezoning. The developer of Two Farms was requesting rezoning for 650 more homes in addition to the 950 high density homes already planned.

Beacon Land Development Beacon Land Development is a partnership between Michael Abbott and Casey Paulson. The company specializes in developing exclusive, resort-type communities, and their three current projects all include a golf course as central to the residential development. Paulson is a PGA professional golfer and Abbott is well known in the golfing world as swing coach to PGA tour players and a former ESPN golf commentator. He even joined former President Bush for a round of golf at Bluejack National in 2014. Find out more information at their website: http://beaconld.com.

One way to preserve the land.
Photographer/artist “Anne Goetze resides on a small farm in the countryside outside of Leipers Fork, Tennessee. Her cherished subject matter features the rural life and landscape of middle Tennessee…” She believes that “we all share in a connection to God's Creation, and in the same shared relationship of our souls needing a 'sense of place'.”

Her father’s photography hobby and her mother’s love of nature helped shape her own artistic direction. Her grandfather and her mother’s uncle were also photographers.

The subject of some of her photography and paintings is her “beloved Williamson County.” She has a deep appreciation for the natural farm landscape of the rolling hills of middle Tennessee. Using camera and paintbrush, Anne has spent over 15 years documenting one of Williamson County’s most revered bucolic retreats, and her home – Leiper’s Fork. As changes have come to the countryside, Goetze has painted and photographed the landscape to capture what might not be there tomorrow.

One of the great influences on her painting is Dorothea Lange, who documented the land and the people who are part of the land. “She captured moments and personality and character. Her stuff had character to it. Artists are attracted to light. That’s what photography and painting is [sic]. I paint a lot outdoors, because you get a different mood. You see more colors in it,” Goetze said in a 2015 interview for the Brentwood Home Page.

She moved to Leiper’s Fork about 20 years ago, attracted by the rural countryside, the rural lifestyle, and the salt-of-the-earth people. But she sees that landscape changing and feels a sense of urgency to document the landscape before it is changed forever. Her concerns about preserving the landscape come out clearly in both her photography and paintings.
Goetze has documented an eagle’s nest that will be threatened by the proposed Two Farms development. Amazing footage of the eagle and its nest has been captured on video. Watch the video, posted March 19, 2016, on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnbRlpYzCTk&feature=youtu.be

Quotes:
We must remember that for life to exist, there must be clean food and water. The soul also needs to be fed – and that is with beauty.  Everything we need is found in Nature – the God-given life sustaining land. It deserves our utmost respect and responsibility of stewardship. Once it is destroyed by exploitation, we are destroyed. –Anne Goetze
 
The apathetic attitude ‘There is nothing we can do and this is the way things are’ is what allows bad situations to escalate. I’ve seen many people say things along that line, which really means, ‘I’m not going to say or do anything about it.’ – Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station
 
If you are interested in land conservation and commenting on this issue, the facebook page, Two Farms One Nightmare, offers information and has an online petition that people can sign.

Resources:
http://www.williamsonherald.com/communities/thompsons_station/article_1cae0018-bbd4-11e5-be1a-b7820e4f8473.html
http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/real-estate/2015/10/30/tiger-woods-designed-golf-course-eyed-thompsons-station/74902338/
http://www.springhillhomepage.com/two-farms-at-thompsons-station-rezoning-approved-cms-7041
https://www.facebook.com/twofarmsonenightmare/
http://www.brentwoodhomepage.com/artist-anne-goetze-its-all-about-light--cms-19813#.Vvm02Xqb1nh
http://www.annegoetze.com/

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