By SUSAN LEATHERS
Brentwood Home Page
The year of 2012 won’t go down as the most exciting in Brentwood history. We didn’t experience any major crimes (thank goodness), local tragedies or big political upheavals. Concord and Franklin roads didn’t see more improvements.
But 2012 may well be remembered as the year that ultimately put the city on the map as far more than a bedroom community.
Today we offer our review of the city’s top overall stories from the past 12 months. Coming up are reviews of the top education, sports and business and development stories from a countywide perspective. We’ll also remember the individuals we lost this year who made significant contributions to the community during their lives.
City offers first incentive package; Tractor Supply Company breaks ground on new HQ
On Aug. 6, the long-awaited and hoped-for announcement that Tractor Supply Company, the nation’s largest operator of retail farm and ranch stores in the United States, would keep its headquarters in Brentwood. The decision spurred the initial movement of dirt at the Virginia Springs business park just south of Maryland Farms; the development and acceptance of a new city park; and marked the first time in Brentwood’s history that the city offered an incentive to a company.
The company will refer to its new headquarters as its Store Support Center and expects to move to the new location, located on Virginia Way near Granny White Pike, in mid-2014. The company currently employs approximately 650 of its total 17,000 team members in its three leased buildings and expects over time to grow to over 1,000 team members in the new facility.
In a related story, TSC president and CEO Jim Wright announced his retirement from the company at year’s end. Wright is credited with overseeing the company’s successful growth despite the most recent recession.
Want to know more? Here are links to some of our TSC coverage this year:
The Streets of Brentwood
Though no dirt has turned by way of new building, the slow demolition of the old Murray Ohio corporate headquarters in late winter marked the beginning of new life at the southeast corner of Franklin Road and Maryland Way – one of the most visible, and largest single-owner pieces of property in the city’s northern commercial zone.
In a related headline, in May, the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention voted to sell its Maryland Farms headquarters for $9 million to Franklin Land Associations LLC, a subsidiary of H.G. Hill Realty and GBT, owners of the Murray site.
In October, developers released concept plans for The Streets of Brentwood, a 17-acre, 970,212-square-foot mixed use development for the entire parcel and announced plans to seek to have the property rezoned into the C-4 (Town Center/Special Restrictions) district from its current C-1 (commercial office) designation.
“Without question, if the rezoning is approved and the project is carried out, the redevelopment of this office tract as a mixed land use development would be the largest taxable investment in the City’s history and would create a Town Center for Brentwood,” City Manager Mike Walker told Brentwood Home Page on Oct. 23.
The rezoning request is in process. The City Commission approved the request on its first reading in November. A public meeting was held in December. A review by the planning commission, a public hearing and second and final vote by the city commission is scheduled in January.
If passed, the Streets of Brentwood development, which is expected to include retail, restaurants, residential and office space will no doubt be a top story in 2013 as well.
Want to know more? Here are links to some of our Murray, Streets of Brentwood and related coverage this year:
The return of the Christmas star
In June, Brentwood Home Page broke the news that the Christmas star would once again shine over Green Pastures Farm. George Crosthwait, manager of the Franklin Road landmark property owned by Cal Turner Jr. and his wife Margaret, told BHP that construction on a new structure built to FEMA specifications would begin as early as the following week.
Over the course of the next few months, thousands of people watched from Franklin Road as a new oak and stacked stone picnic pavilion was put together.
On Nov. 16, standing firm on his promise to take advantage of the first warm, sunny day he could, Crosthwait oversaw a crew of eight, including barn builder Mark Burke, work non-stop to install the huge hand-painted canvas “mural” atop the roof of the new structure. The pavilion’s roof had been designed with the same measurements of the old loafing barn that had held the mural for 14 Advent seasons until a February 2011 wind storm damaged it beyond repair.
In December, new LED lights illuminated it again at night to the joy of many.
Want to know more? Here are links to some of our Turner Barn coverage this year:
Transitions in city leadership
The year will go down as one of important transitions at city hall, otherwise known as the Brentwood Municipal Building.
Though he announced his plan to retire in October 2011, Police Chief Ricky Watson made it official in late January. Watson had led the department -- recognized as one of the state’s best -- for 12 years.
Asst. Police Chief Jeff Hughes, a 25-year veteran of the department, became the third police chief in the city’s history.
In August, longtime City Manager Mike Walker surprised many when he announced he planned to retire in January 2013 after leading the city’s for 22 years. During Walker’s tenure, the city has seen tremendous growth and development while operating with a balanced budget and large reserves. The city has had the same effective property tax rate for the past 22 years.
Brentwood’s AAA bond rating from two major credit rating agencies “is better than the rating of most nations in the world today,” Walker read from his prepared retirement letter. “As the United States slowly recovers from the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, our local economy is fundamentally sound and the future looks bright.”
In early September, the City Commission voted unanimously to negotiate a deal to hire Assistant City Manager Kirk Bednar to replace Walker . By the end of that month, the board finalized a deal.
Bednar joined the city in his current role in 2000.
"I think I speak for all of the staff, and specifically the Police Department, when I say we are very happy with the Commissioners’ decision to offer this position to Kirk Bednar," Hughes said. "I truly believe that a nationwide search would have only delayed and ultimately confirmed what we already know to be true – that Kirk is the most qualified and best person for the job."
A nationwide search was conducted, however, for Bednar’s replacement. On Dec. 20, Jay Evans of Leesburg, Fla. was named as the successful candidate. Evans’ new position becomes effective Jan. 28, 2013.
Want to know more? Here are links to some of our staff transition coverage this year:
Legal actions, new and old, make headlines
The city was involved in several lawsuits in 2012, and at least one must be included in the top stories of the year.
On Jan. 6, the Williamson County Election Commission filed a lawsuit against Mayor Paul Webb, City Manager Mike Walker and the Brentwood City Commission. At issue was whether or not the election commission has the right to designate the Brentwood Library as a county-wide polling place without the city’s consent.
On May 31, Williamson County Chancery Court Judge Tim Easter ruled that the Election Commission does not have the right to use any public building it chooses to conduct early voting or voting on Election Day. Within weeks, the election commission voted to appeal the judge’s decision.
On Dec. 13, the election commission filed its response to the Court of Appeals of Tennessee asking it to reverse the Chancery Court judgment and to grant it summary judgment. It wants the appeals court to declare that local authorities such as the City of Brentwood have no discretion to reject the election commission if it wants to use a public building such as the Brentwood Library as a polling place.
The City of Brentwood plans to file its response before the end of the year.
Two storylines that didn’t go away in 2012 also involved lawsuits.
In March the city joined together with its Metro counterparts to appeal a ruling in the long-fought “Corky’s billboard” case. A thorn in the city’s side since it was installed just over the city limits a decade ago, the huge billboard once again made headlines when Lamar Advertising converted the north-facing side of the billboard into a digital format. In October, a judge ruled in favor of the two municipalities. The storyline is expected to continue into the new year, however. Lamar has until Dec. 27 to file an appeal.
And in November, the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee dismissed a lawsuit brought against the city by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of The Contributor newspaper organization and two of its vendors.
Want to know more? Here are links to some of our lawsuit coverage this year:
Coming up: The year in review in education, business & development and sports.