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Verbally bloodied but unbowed, developer proceeds with Swingzone plans

Pegram home builder and alderman Randy Howington says he will move ahead with plans to build the Swingzone indoor baseball facility on the Cheatham/Davidson county line in spite of growing opposition from Pegram area homeowners.


In a statement provided to the Kingston Springs Gazette, Howington said, “We are looking forward to presenting our project to the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals for their consideration. We continue to believe this will be a facility that benefits the Nashville and the surrounding community.” The Metro board is scheduled to meet May 16.


Howington outlined his plans for the Swingzone structure via an April 22 video conference call that attracted around 50 participants and lasted for nearly two hours. Emily Lamb, Howington's attorney, acted as moderator.


While the proceedings were courteous at first, they quickly became heated as speaker after speaker voiced strenuous objections to what they feared would be a community irritant and eyesore.


The primary complaints were that the facility would be unsightly, generate too much traffic on an already heavily traveled Highway 70, diminish property values, be a noise pollutant, encourage customers to casually “invade” the neighborhood streets, damage the environment of Harpeth River State Park – which lies directly across the road from the proposed structure – and be unable to return the property to its original state if the business should fail.


The video recording of the meeting can be viewed here.


On April 25, the Pegram Preservation Association (PPA), the most organized opposition to Howington's project, sent its summary of the video meeting to its members and followed it the next day with a call to action, asking opponents and their sympathizing friends to send letters to the Nashville Board of Appeals and to District 35 Metro Councilman Jason Spain enumerating both general and specific objections to the proposed structure and requesting that Howington's appeal be denied.


"When asked why it was so pertinent to put his elite athlete training facility in this location his answer was 'because he owns this property.' But we know this property was purchased specifically for this project," PPA said in a statement. "It was clear throughout the meeting that the negative impact to the neighborhood was not considered as an issue when making his purchase. It was also clear that he does not have answers for questions pertaining to safety, noise, and environmental impact, much less a plan to mitigate these concerns."

"It is our expectation that Alderman Howington postpone/cancel his request for a zoning exception in Davidson County until he can adequately answer the concerns of the neighborhood or acquire a better fitting property for this passion project," the group said. "We want to be in support of all business owners in the Pegram community, including Howington Construction LLC, and would encourage him to build single family homes, as is his specialty, on the Beverly Hills and Highway 70 location."


In addition to his own involvement in Pegram city government as an alderman, Howington's wife, Samantha Howington, is a member of the Pegram Board of Zoning and Appeals.

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