BY LANDON WOODROOF
A new science, technology, math and engineering building slated for construction on the Brentwood Middle and High School campus came a little bit closer to reality thanks to a vote at Monday night’s City Commission meeting.
The design plan for the new STEM building calls for a three-story structure housing 35 classrooms. Under current city law a school building is only allowed three levels with one of those levels being a basement.
Since the plans for the STEM building do not include a basement, its current design plan required a change to city ordinances.
Monday night, the City Commission voted to approve on first reading an ordinance that would remove language stipulating a maximum number of stories from city law. In its place would be a simple 60-foot height limit on school buildings.
Even with three stories, the STEM building is presently designed to be 43-feet high. This means it would meet the necessary height requirement if the ordinance advances through further stages of review and becomes law.
“This ordinance comes about as an offshoot of our discussions on the schools projects,” said City Manger Kirk Bednar. Bednar, all City Commissioners, and some staff were decked out in Nashville Predators attire. Commissioners held the meeting two hours early to accommodate Game 6 of the NHL Western Conference final between the Predators and the Anaheim Ducks.
Bednar was referring to steps the city has taken to hasten the implementation of Williamson County Schools’ three-phase plan for the BMS and BHS campus.
At its May 8 meeting, the commission approved the transfer of .85 acres of land to WCS to allow for the construction of a new access road. That road will connect Granny White Pike with a new parking lot to be constructed behind BHS. The second and final reading of the land transfer ordinance was also passed this Monday night. It was passed without discussion since it was on the consent agenda.
In order for the school to gain use of that land, the city has to rezone it from SI-3 (Service Institution – Cultural, Recreational, and Governmental) to SI-2 (Service Institution – Educational). They did that on first reading at the May 8 meeting, but since it is a rezoning ordinance it must go through additional levels of approval.
The STEM building is Phase III of the WCS plan. The Williamson County Commission voted for funding each of the phases. These votes were cast after Brentwood City Commissioners approved a $2.4 million donation from the Adequate Facilities Tax Fund to WCS. In return, Williamson County Schools are sharing their athletic spaces with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Bednar explained that the ordinance change was necessary because of the planned construction site for the STEM building.
“That campus has limited space, the only way to build is up,” he said.
City Commissioner Ken Travis agreed.
“I think this is a very important building…for the campus,” he said, adding that if the campus had more acreage another building design may have been possible.
“I think we’re doing the right thing,” Travis said. “I think, we’re doing it for the kids, and that’s the right reason.”
The ordinance would also affect a couple of other buildings that fall under SI-2 (Service Institution – Educational) zoning. Specifically, two churches in Brentwood—Holy Family Catholic Church on Crockett Road and Otter Creek Church of Christ on Franklin Road—are zoned SI-2.
City Commissioners passed the ordinance unanimously on first reading Monday night.
Since it concerns rezoning, though, this ordinance will have to undergo more consideration before becoming law. Specifically, the Planning Commission will review it on June 5. On June 13, the City Commission will hold a public hearing at the meeting. It will be considered on second and final reading at the June 26 City Commission meeting.