First residents move into Stephens Valley as neighbors of 980-acre development wait and watch for impact

First residents move into Stephens Valley as neighbors of 980-acre development wait and watch for impact

By Melissa Hambrick

The Burma-Shave-inspired signs urging “Save Stephens Valley” still line the fence posts framing several large farms on pastoral Sneed Road.

But the new mixed-used community itself is not only well under way, its first residents have moved in.

Located at the intersection of Pasquo and Sneed Roads, on both sides of the Davidson-Williamson county line, not far from the Loveless Café and the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, Stephens Valley is being developed in a collaboration between Rochford Realty and Construction Company and Land Innovations.

Linda Leathers-Tullock, her husand Gary, and her mother, Margie Leathers, became the first residents of the 980-acre community, moving in to their new home at the end of September. A second family has since moved in, and, as of early October, the online sales map for Stephens Valley shows 10 homes sold and 13 reserved. Representatives of Rochford Realty and Construction indicate that the number changes daily.

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The first phase of Stephens Valley is going up along Sneed Road. // MELISSA HAMBRICK

Current available homes range from a 2,192 square-foot, 3 bedroom/2 bath home for $551,478, to a $1.1 million listing that boasts 5 bedrooms, 4 ½ baths, and is 4,123 square feet.

Builders in the neighborhood include DeFatta Custom Homes, Legend Homes, Rochford Homes, Sipple Homes, and Celebration Homes.

Though initial marketing materials indicated that starting home prices would begin in the $400,000 price range, the website now touts homes in the $500,000 range to over $1 million.

Located 20 miles from downtown Nashville, and 12 miles from Historic Downtown Franklin, Stephens Valley will be built over 20 years. Approximately 550 of the 980 acres will remain untouched, as will 90% of the trees on this property, previously owned by Bill Stephens since 1930 and put into a family trust more than 50 years ago.

The neighborhood site plan shows the community will abut the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile scenic drive and recreational road that roughly follows the historic “Old Natchez Trace” corridor from Tennessee, through Alabama, and on to Natchez, Mississippi. With 10,000
years of history, the original Trace was used by American Indians, European settlers, slave traders, soldiers, and even future presidents. The Natchez Trace Parkway, a unit of the National Park Service since 1938, is a designated bicycle route, and along the way, offers horseback riding, hiking and camping.

John Rochford, president and founder of Rochford Realty and Construction Company, has previously said that the neighborhood will be 85% single-family homes, all located on the Williamson County side, and the remainder of residences will be stacked flats and townhomes in the Davidson County area, as part of the planned Town Center.

“Construction on the Davidson County side of Stephens Valley is anticipated to begin four to six years after the first homes in Stephens Valley are sold,” says Emily Winkler, director of marketing and public relations for Stephens Valley. “Our vision plans for resident and visitors to enjoy small shops, cafes, exercise classes, an ice cream parlor, and a coffee house. We will also host community events, including live music and a small farmers market. In addition, the Town Square will offer housing in the form of townhomes and smaller flat condos located above some of the retail space.”

Amenities slated for completion in 2018 for Stephens Valley residents include walking trails along Trace Creek and a dog park near the community’s front entrance, with additional pocket parks and trails planned for 2019. After the 150th resident lot is sold, tentative scheduling will begin for the first phase of the Community House, which will include the main event lawn, swimming and resort pools, bocce ball and volleyball courts, and playground, according to Rochford Realty and Construction. The company foresees building an estimated 50 homes each year.

The community has previously drawn protests from area residents who were concerned about the impact to the area, including increased traffic on secondary two-lane Sneed Road, which connects to Hillsboro Road, a main thoroughfare into Nashville to the north, and downtown Franklin to the south.

Sneed Road is lined with large horse farms and several smaller subdivisions, including gated community Laurelbrooke, which features around 200 homes, as well as two golf course communities, The Gardens at Old Natchez, and the approximately 500-home Temple Hills Country Club Estates, which has been continually developed by Rochford Construction starting in the late 1970s. Meanwhile, a new traffic light is being installed at the opposite end of the secondary road, where Pasquo Road intersects with Highway 100 near the Loveless Cafe.

While some traffic concerns were allayed as future Stephens Valley students were zoned to the Williamson County Schools Fairview feeder pattern (Westwood Elementary, Fairview Middle, Fairview High) rather than Grassland Elementary, Middle and Franklin High, Rochford representatives have affirmed that Grassland Elementary and Middle Schools are available for open zoning. Up to 25 students from any Williamson County school can apply to either of those schools, which are where other communities in the area are zoned.

In addition, there are a number of nearby private schools in both Davidson and Williamson counties within a few miles, including Christ Presbyterian Academy, Ensworth School, St. Matthew Catholic School, and Holy Trinity Montessori School.

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Parts of Stephens Valley will abut federal land along the Natchez Trace Parkway. // FILE

The Save Stephens Valley signs are still prominent in the area, especially on the properties of some longtime residents with larger farms. Save Stephens Valley is organized by a group of concerned residents who came together through social media and neighborhood apps like NextDoor who say they want to protect the scenic beauty of the Natchez Trace Parkway and the rich history of the Old Natchez Trace.

A resident of the The Links at Temple Hills, Donna Clements is one of the founders of the group who shares continued apprehension in regards to the effects the development will have. She first became involved with Stephens Valley when it was introduced as a proposed community of more than 1,500 homes, and, at the time, a back entrance to the neighborhood which would link up with Sandcastle Road, into The Links at Temple Hills. According to Clements, the original Stephens Valley plans had around 891 homes slated for Williamson County, which has since been reduced to under 792 homes in the county due to road-related requirements of the Williamson County Planning Commission.

“We recognize people should be able to sell land and develop, but for our group, the issue was that the entire infrastructure around Stephens Valley was going to have to adapt, which seemed to be too much,” Clements says. ““We want people to be aware that we are still concerned about the roads and the intensity of the impact. We’re hoping that Rochford will continue to consider lowering those numbers as they enter additional phases.”

Sales and Marketing Director Winkler notes that the neighborhood is still developing on schedule.

“The signs on Sneed Road have created an awareness of Stephens Valley,” she says. “They have not impacted our growth in a positive or negative way.”

Rochford Realty and Construction Company is a sponsor of the HomeFest Tour of Homes at Stephens Valley, running from Thursday, October 25, through Sunday, November 4. The Tour of Homes will be open for home tours weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A Realtor preview event kicks off the event on October 25, followed by a family-friendly fall festival open to the
public on Saturday, October 27.

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