By Bill Short
The Millington Municipal Planning Commission has selected revitalization of the Old Town district as its top priority for implementing the city’s 20-Year Master Plan.
Commission members reached that consensus Monday night during their regular monthly meeting in the Board Chamber at City Hall.
The Master Plan was first presented to the commission on March 19. It was approved at the April 16 meeting and posted on the city’s Web site.
On May 14, the Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to accept the commission’s approval of the plan as a guide for the city’s physical development.
Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, said Monday night that the commission should “maybe even” appoint a committee to “start really working” on the Old Town provisions.
Alderman Mike Caruthers reminded the other commission members that they have been working on Old Town revitalization for many years.
“We need to fix it up,” he noted. “We need to get moving with it.”
In response to a question by Caruthers, Goforth acknowledged that one business had considered rebuilding in Old Town, but it was concerned about the “setbacks.”
“It would not have been able to rebuild,” he noted, “based on the regulations that are there.”
Goforth has said the Old Town district basically consists of the “triangle” formed by the intersection of Church Street, Navy Road and Easley Street.
He has noted that in 1940, before Navy Road was constructed, the “heart” of the downtown area was on Easley west of the railroad tracks.
Much of Easley was developed before the Shelby County government approved its first zoning ordinance in 1956. And Goforth has said the first portion of Navy was constructed like Easley, with the buildings “up on the street.”
By 1962, Navy had been “extended,” but not all of it had been developed. Because most of its western part was developed under current zoning ordinances, Goforth has said it has large setbacks and large areas between the buildings.
When Millington established the Old Town district in 2009, the city planned to adopt regulations regarding permitted and prohibited uses, signage, design review and landscaping. But Goforth has acknowledged that, until that is actually accomplished, existing regulations still apply.
In January, Goforth and the members of a Master Plan Advisory Committee agreed that the Old Town district should include all the commercial property in its B-1 and B-2 zoning, while excluding the residential areas.
He has noted that money is currently available for “streetscape” improvements on Navy Road from Veterans Parkway west to Highway 51.
On Monday night, in response to a question by Goforth, City Manager Ed Haley said it will “probably be 2019” before the streetscape construction can begin.
“When that construction starts,” Goforth concluded, “I really think you’re going to get a push for more development down there. And I think we need to be ready at that time.”
By Bill Short