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The night was cold, but that did not stop about 200 people from attending the Public Hearing on senior housing and the City’s proposal for government controlled, high density, age-restricted senior housing. The message from the overwhelming majority was clear:

They were opposed to high density housing and in favor of keeping Brentwood’s one acre density.


Here is a summary:

  • Speakers were opposed to the high density housing by a margin of over 2 to 1.
  • All speakers supported senior downsizing options.
  • The vast majority were for senior housing with small lots where the one acre density was maintained with greenspace.
  • Relatively few were in favor of the City’s high density proposal.
  • The majority opposed federal government controlled, age-restricted senior communities.

Noteworthy Resident Comments – In Their Own Words:
1.“If senior housing is to be built, and I voted for it, please add green space to maintain one acre density. Do not sell out our future for developer’s profits today. I would appreciate you living up to your campaign promises of responsible growth – high density housing is not responsible growth.”
2.“While I support senior housing and I understand the need, I think we need to find a way to work within our current zoning to accommodate our needs and stay with the one home per acre. I don’t want to live in Green Hills and I don’t want to live in Nashville, that’s why I live in Brentwood. I don’t think that we have the infrastructure to support higher density housing and we certainly do not have the traffic management to support more traffic.”
3.“I see the one acre density as a generational gift that’s been passed from one generation to the next over the past four decades. Why change it now? Why abandon this generational gift? It’s this gift that has been passed on and now that I find we’re considering going away from it, it seems like a betrayal of sorts.”
4.“When you exclude young people and children you get a different environment that is very different from what we like about Brentwood. I urge you not to do age-restricted and stay away from high density.”
5.“I support one acre density. I think that is the character of Brentwood.”  
6.“Over 95% of the Northumberland residents believe that the one house per acre should be left alone. When we completed the 2020 survey I didn’t know we would be changing the rules of one house per acre. It took me four Saturdays to survey my neighborhood. I would hate for you to vote on something the majority of people don’t want.”
7.“We’re discussing what is the best way to have affordable, adequate senior housing. The proposal the City is looking at now is not the best approach. There are better ways to address this question.”
8.“I oppose any change that would change the density or involve, or potentially involve, the Federal Government. Once HUD gets a foothold the character and core values of Brentwood will be severely damaged and there will not be any going back.”
9.“I support one acre zoning. Brentwood’s infrastructure was not designed for high density housing.”
10.“Traffic is already in a congested state but is fast approaching being in a paralysis situation. Higher density housing would make things worse”
11.“There are younger people in their forties with small kids in this community that will really be upset if you go away from one acre zoning. There’s a level of trust that this one acre density was going to be there.”
12.“If you have the HOA enforce the “55 and older” that will be a colossal disaster. It’s unworkable, there’s no enforcement capability with a HOA.”
13.“In addition, you want the authority to negotiate zoning standards with each developer which would create inconsistency throughout the City. The City has done very well with what we have today, so why do we want to change it.”
14.“Without exception all of our commissioners have on numerous occasions pledged  unwavering support for one home per acre residential zoning. Commissioners I hope you keep your promise to residents. If this plan was so good why didn’t we talk about it during the last election so citizens could understand where your position was. We don’t have to bust one acre zoning to accomplish viable senior alternatives for downsizing. Commissioner Gorman and Commissioner Travis have both said they do not support the current proposal because of the density. If others of you have promised citizens you will defend one acre zoning, I’m trying to decide who’s going to vote for this.
15.“You all can very intelligently look at how we can put together an OSRD with adequate green space.”
16.“Why do we continue this process of high density housing? Certainly not for the benefit of seniors as has already been said. I think everyone in the meeting has spoken of downsizing options and we can do that. OSRD has not worked for senior housing because we let the developer opt out of building smaller houses on the smaller lots. We can provide the product seniors are looking for which is downsized options. I think we need to start over and consider a plan that works within our current community and current zoning standards. Commissioner Travis has presented one and there have been others that have been presented from the community. We can have other solutions without busting one acre zoning. If we press toward this high density housing situation we’re going to end up with many unintended consequences.” 

Over 2,500 acres are suitable for residential development in Brentwood (of the 3,500 acres that remain undeveloped).
One acre zoning =  projected 2,500 more homes.
High density housing = projected 6,000 more homes.
Which is best for our traffic situation? Our infrastructure? Our quality of life?


Preserve Brentwood is not opposed to new senior housing in Brentwood.  We feel that it needs to be developed within our current zoning structure.  Don’t forget what happened in the recent past when city leaders attempted to spur development by creating a new zoning classification.  It brought us C4 Zoning- with extreme high density!  It brought us Tapestry- with 393 Apartments!  



C-4 Moratorium Passed

For an accurate summary of the City Commission Meeting in which the C4 Moratorium was passed by 6 to 1 (Freeman opposing) click the link to Bonnie Burch’s article below.


Highlights from Moratorium Update Letter from Commissioner Dunn

dated June 22, 2013

Dear Resident,

I just wanted to keep you informed as to the status of the proposed moratorium on C-4 rezonings in the expanded area.  You may recall that the expanded area is NOT zoned C-4 but has been designated as an area which could be considered for C-4 rezoning.

The second and final reading on the moratorium will be held Tuesday, June 25th at 7:00 pm in the commission chambers.  If it passes (note from PB: THE MORATORIUM DID PASS) it will remain in effect until July 1, 2014.   During this time no applications will be accepted for rezonings to C-4 in the expanded area.  That time period will be used to update the 2020 Plan and to conduct a joint traffic study with Metro-Nashville.   

Residents have indicated that some aspects of the C-4 can be applied in ways that would be beneficial to the city’s development while strongly  objecting  to other parts: proximity to residential neighborhoods, density and especially the residential component allowing condos/apartments.  Our task is

  • 1.      to get feedback with the 2020 survey  from the community during this period,
  • 2.      to complete the traffic study
  • 3.      to use this information to  review the C-4
  • 4.      to make changes in the C-4 that need to occur.

If those goals are reached prior to July 1, 2014, the moratorium will be lifted.

During this time you may well see construction in the expanded area and if so it will be construction that is occurring based on the current  zoning.  We are not “slipping” anything past anyone.

I hope this information is helpful and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Anne Dunn, City Commissioner


Brentwood zoning meeting switches to ethics review

Brentwood City Commissioner faces questions

Jun. 26, 2013
Bonnie Burch
The Tennessean

BRENTWOOD — A vote by the Brentwood City Commission on Tuesday halted developers’ abilities to use C-4 zoning for mixed-use projects outside the original Town Center district for a year.

But one Brentwood city commissioner might have felt as much under fire as the recently maligned zoning classification, and commissioners agreed to review their ethics policy.

During the meeting, Commissioner Rod Freeman faced questions about his ethical integrity by several audience members, while fellow City Commissioner Mark Gorman, who also serves on the Brentwood Planning Commission, asked Freeman to resign his newly appointed post on the planning commission based on an earlier comment that his vote on the moratorium “didn’t matter.”

“Those words struck a very deep chord with me from the perspective that I think this commission appointed the wrong commissioner on the planning commission as a representative,” Gorman said. “The residents deserve better.”

Freeman, who didn’t step down, admitted he presented a poor choice of words and only meant to say that he knew he’d have another opportunity to vote on the matter as a city commissioner. Planning commissioners make only recommendations to rezoning ordinances while city commissioners make the ultimate decisions.

In their public comments, Brentwood resident Gerald Witcher questioned Freeman’s past support of development projects and his campaign contributions. Freeman was elected into office two years ago.

But other commissioners leaped to Freeman’s defense.

“I don’t think that if you’re pro-commercial or pro-residential that you’re necessarily a puppet. I think you just have strong feelings for that type of vision for Brentwood. I may disagree with you tremendously. It doesn’t mean you’re ethically challenged,” City Commissioner Anne Dunn said.

“One thing that I value deeply is principle. And I value ethics deeply. So when folks talk about that, it does bother me,” Freeman said.

At one point during his comments, Freeman stopped what he was saying and put his face in his hands. Mayor Betsy Crossley called a 10-minute recess to allow Freeman to regain his composure.

In 2010, the city changed the C-4 ordinance to allow more density, higher buildings and residential units to developers who request the special zoning standards for commercial projects within a half-mile radius of the traditional Town Center area.

Freeman, who was the only “no” vote on the moratorium, said he didn’t want to “tie hands” in possibly using the positive parts of C-4 development.

The moratorium isn’t in effect in the old Town Center, which already has C-4 designated over the entire area.

“Listen to their words but check their vote,” Gorman quoted a phrase he’d heard about politics. “I’ve heard some concern surrounding the ethics policy.”

With that, the city commissioner who came into office in the May election introduced a new business item to review and update the city’s ethics policies. His fellow commissioners agreed unanimously and encouraged the city staff to work on possible amendments or additions to the policy for a future meeting vote.


Emotional meeting leads to C-4 moratorium

Jun. 25, 2013 10:14 PM
Bonnie Burch
The Tennessean
BRENTWOOD – Brentwood has halted requests by developers to use C-4 zoning on property outside the original Town Center district for a year.
But the final vote Tuesday night came with heat generated toward City Commissioner Rod Freeman.
Some audience members questioned his integrity while fellow City Commissioner Mark Gorman, who also serves on the Brentwood Planning Commission, asked Freeman to resign his newly appointed post on the planning commission based on an earlier comment that his vote on the moratorium “didn’t matter.”
Freeman, who refused to step down, admitted he presented a poor choice in words. Planning commissioners only make recommendations to rezoning ordinances such as C-4 while city commissioners make the ultimate decisions.
In 2010, the city changed the C-4 ordinance to allow more density, higher buildings and residential units to developers who request the special zoning standards for commercial projects within a half mile radius of the traditional Town Center area.
Freeman, who was the only “no” vote to the moratorium, didn’t want to “tie hands” in possibly using the positive parts of C-4 development.
The moratorium isn’t in affect in the old Town Center, which already has C-4 designated over the entire area.


Special zoning may be revised

Commissioners want input on expanded C-4 district

BRENTWOOD — Developers who are itching to build in the expanded C-4 district have officially been put on notice.

Plans are in the works to halt projects that require rezonings to this special class until Brentwood leaders can get a handle on several issues with the technical and developmental standards that have attracted controversy.

Originally adopted in 2004, the Town Center zoning was put in place to encourage redevelopment of Brentwood’s old commercial districts by allowing more walkable areas, upscale building standards and residential units above retail stores. But in 2010, at the height of the recession, amendments to the ordinance granted builders the ability to apply the district’s standards in an expanded half-mile radius of the Town Center district.

Tapestry, a 393-unit rental condominium complex now being built on Centerview Drive, was the first project to be approved in the expanded C-4 district. In February, developers of the proposed 950,000-square-foot Streets of Brentwood project with condos, offices, a hotel, retail, restaurants and a movie theater at the corner of Franklin Road and Maryland Way pulled the plans due in some part to community opposition. Issues raised with both projects include the number of residential units and their for-sale-or-rent aspects, density and traffic impact.

At a recent workshop between city commission and planning commission members, several attendees voiced concern that more projects could be proposed while they hashed out the good or bad points of the zoning amendments.

“As a result of the joint commission workshop regarding possible amendments to Brentwood’s C-4 zoning ordinance, I would propose that staff be directed to draft an ordinance imposing a moratorium on any rezoning to C-4 in the area located within a half mile of the original C-4 Town Center district from July 1, 2014, provided that the moratorium could be lifted if the amendments are agreed upon by the commission prior to that day,” said Brentwood City Commissioner Betsy Crossley’s motion.

She also requested a first reading on the proposal for the May 13 city commission meeting.

But since the moratorium request is not a rezoning or an amendment to an ordinance, the agenda item would not technically require a public hearing, said City Manager Kirk Bednar.

But commissioners are looking for input from the community on the moratorium proposal and a public hearing is a traditional way of gauging reaction. Initially, Commissioner Regina Smithson wanted the public hearing and the second reading on the same day to institute the measure faster.

“People want the process to start on the revision of C-4,” she said.

But fellow commissioner Anne Dunn didn’t see the need to rush.

“I think a public hearing is a good thing separately considering all the circumstances that have surrounded this. I know people are anxious to get potential rezonings out of the picture down there, but I really don’t see in the next few weeks somebody rushing in,” she said.

Under the plan, the moratorium proposal would get planning recommendations on June 3, the public hearing on June 10 and final reading with the city commission on June 25.

The proposal is to stop rezoning to the C-4 classification in the expanded district. The original district, roughly south of Old Hickory Boulevard, east of Franklin Road, west of Interstate 65 and north of Church Street East, won’t fall under the moratorium because that entire area is already zoned for C-4 projects.

Contact Bonnie Burch at 615-771-5421 or


Recognizing that components of C4 were problematic for citizens, Commissioner Regina Smithson requested that the city address C4 zoning immediately while citizens are engaged in the issue.  Below is an update from her:

From: Smithson, Regina <>
Sent: Mon, Apr 22, 2013 10:23 pm
Subject: Re: C-4 Ordinances

Hi Everyone –
Tonight at our city commission meeting the commission directed our City Manager Kirk Bednar to have an ordinance written up for the commission to consider a moratorium on ALL C-4 rezoning proposals until the C-4 Ordinance is revised.  In order for the moratorium to be implemented the process would be as follows:
1.     First reading would be on May 13th before the City Commission
2.     It would then go to the Planning Meeting on June 3rd for their recommendation.
3.     Public Hearing on June 10th.
4.     Second and Final Reading on June 24th.
The moratorium would be in place until July, 2014 which would give us time to have a 2020 Plan update and the MPO traffic study with Metro and Franklin.  NO REZONINGS to C-4 would be allowed with the moratorium in place.  Again, I will work to remove ALL residential from the C-4 zoning.   This process will take time, but again with the moratorium in place all C-4 rezoning proposals will be stopped.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
Regina Smithson
615-512-2779 – c
615-377-0115 - h 
Commissioner Anne Dunn sent out this email after the April 18 workshop with a synopsis of the feedback, and her own feelings on the topic to close out the letter.  She also invites your input:

On April 18th the City Commission and Planning Commission, City manager and director of planning participated in a workshop to discuss the C-4 zoning district and the expanded C-4 zoning district.

You probably know that the original Town Center is currently zoned C-4 while the expanded  area is only ELIGIBLE on a case by case basis to be considered for this zoning classification.  Many of the aspects of the TSOB project created cause for concern as to the density, residential component, etc.  This workshop was designed to discuss these issues and determine how to move forward

I felt there was good feedback at the workshop .  This needs to be done correctly and certain steps need to be taken to make sure it is.  I will try to give you an accurate picture of how I saw the discussion.   In my view, these are the thoughts I heard being expressed::

1.     The city must complete the 2020 Plan update to include community input.

2.     The MPO/Franklin/ Brentwood joint comprehensive traffic study must be completed to get a broader picture of the  traffic situation.

3.     The FAR when in place served to limit density.  The elimination of that needs to be re-evaluated.

4.     The city attorney advised that condominiums cannot by law be required to be owner occupied and therefore  there is no guarantee that they would not become rentals.  The residential component  is a strong source of contention and this must  be revisited.

5.     I did not hear anyone voice any disagreement with making sure that no residential is abutted by the C-4

To get the information from the 2020 survey and the traffic study should take about 12 months.  Knowing that there is considerable concern in the meantime  about someone bringing forth a rezoning request in the expanded area , there was discussion about how to allay those concerns.  Commissioner Betsy Crossley recommended that we place a moratorium on those requests  and not allow any  C-4 rezoning until all of these items have been addressed.  At the meeting Monday, April 22,2013, the city commission will ask the staff to draft wording to that effect which will be voted on at the May 13 meeting.

 My personal thinking to date is described below in italics.

I completely support removing the residential component from the C-4 zoning.  With no guarantee that they have to be owner occupied, it opened a door that we don’t want opened.

I also do not feel this zoning should abut any residential neighborhood and I agree that the FAR needs to be lowered.  That would help control the traffic and the density of any proposed development.

I don’t believe anyone who wants these changes is anti-development.  I believe they just want the growth to be on a scale the city can handle and not overly dense or containing condos or rentals.  I think we can amend the C-4 to remove those objectionable parts.  

There is one aspect of it that could be very positive and I would like to bring it to your attention and get your feedback on it.

I have heard from so many people who have specific concerns with the C-4.  They  want those things handled but also want any new development to be a bit more creative in design and site layout for office and retail—more user friendly so to speak.  While our current C-2 zoning does allow the mix of office and retail, the setbacks in the C-2 usually result in a “strip mall” look with a sea of concrete parking in the middle or in the front facing the road. 

The C-4 setbacks offer the opportunity to be a bit more creative and I want to be open minded about that aspect of it and how we can best use it.   I would like the result of revisiting this to be something that Brentwood can feel good about.  Change those items that we don’t like and look at keeping the parts that  may serve us well.

I hope for those of you who were not able to attend this will help to keep you updated.  Feel free to call me, 370-3702 or email me.

Anne Dunn

What is C4, and why can the developments be so large?

C4 is commercial zoning that originated in Brentwood's original Town Center, which is basically north of Church St, much of it in the "roundabout" area. It was designed to allow higher density mixed use with some residential (think lofts above retail stores) to spur redevelopment and create a more "downtown" feel.  Because the zoning didn't really catch on in that area, in 2010 the C4 zoning area expanded by ½ mile in each direction.  Now this expanded area may allow a greater height and size of buildings, large underground parking garages, and an increase in the possible number of condo/rental/residential units.  It may now also exist next to low-density residential homes.

The C-4 commercial town center district allows a wide variety of uses, including retail, professional office, service-oriented business, residential and/or combinations of the above uses, but encourages a more compact arrangement, greater building height, parking garages, with a pedestrian-oriented approach in mind for development activity as compared to other commercial districts. The C-4 Code does not specify which uses are included as part of a mixed use development plan.  Residential units are not required to be a part of a plan.  However, if a plan within the C-4 district is to include residential, it must also include commercial uses.  (Per Section 78-252(12)a. of the Zoning Ordinance.)  This section also speaks about the Condo units. 

Division 9. C-4 Commercial Town Center document link:
Residential units are permitted provided that:
Residential units must be integrated within a planned development containing commercial uses. If a planned development contains more than four residential units, such units must be condominium units, and a unit owners association for the development must be established and operated pursuant to the requirements of T.C.A. § 66-27-401 et seq., or any other applicable state statute.

Increased traffic, overcrowding and re-zoning of schools, and the presence of a large number of apartments were the biggest issues expressed by citizens regarding the Streets of Brentwood and Tapestry development projects. Although the developer withdrew the rezoning request for the Streets of Brentwood project on the Murray Ohio/TBC properties, Brentwood still has a large area for potential C4 (Town Center) zoning, which allows for high density and rental condo/apartment complexes with retail/office on the first floor.

We prefer development in keeping with the traditional character of our city. Large apartment buildings have never been part of Brentwood and will have a negative impact on our schools, traffic, crime, and city infrastructure, thus leading to decreased property values and quality of life. Until C4 is returned to its parameters set forth prior to 2010, developers can and will return with requests for C4 zoning.  We all must remain watchful as these types of rezoning requests come before the city for consideration.

How do we change C4?

Continue to VOTE for candidates who will act and support our schools and the traditional residential vision of Brentwood. 

Also, if you believe -- as we do -- that problems exist with the current C4 zoning,  consider putting a "No C4" sign in your yard, along with election campaign signs for Commissioner candidates you feel share this vision of traditional residential zoning.  The “No C4” signs are only $10 each.  Please email us at if you would like a “No C4” sign. 

Below is a zoning map with the area originally intended for C-4 in bright red.  It is in a small underdeveloped area nowhere near residential areas.

The red cross-hatched areas were opened to potential C-4 zoning in November 2010.  THIS MAP DOES NOT SHOW THE NOW C-4 AREA OF SYNERGY PARK AND THE TAPESTRY DEVELOPMENT.
  Only 4 of the 7 commissioners showed up for the zoning expansion vote and it passed.

The 393 unit Tapestry project next to Staples was rezoned to C-4 and was approved for CONDOS.  So why are they now rental apartments?  A loophole.  The developer of that project made itself the "owner" of each unit and can rent them out.  C-4 needs fixing before it goes any further.  C-4 has been creeping down and across Brentwood and high density housing and increased traffic are creeping along with it.


The Brentwood Hompage reported that the Planning Commission passed a recommendation to send the moratorium on C4-Town Center zoning to the City Commission during their June 3 meeting.

Planning Commissioners Bob Powers and Neal McBrayer voted against sending the moratorium to the city commission.