August 03, 2015

Subdivision Plan Wins Gate Security

By Kevin McKenzie
– Commercial Appeal –

Fear is driving the demand for gated communities, said one developer, and Germantown’s Planning Commission on Tuesday night agreed to give well-heeled buyers the security they want.

With a 5-1 vote, the commission approved a planned development aptly named The Sanctuary of Germantown.

Boyle Investment Co. aims to develop the 51-lot gated community on the north side of Poplar across the street from Oakleigh Lane, about 1 ½ miles west of Forest Hill-Irene.

On about 31 acres and designed to keep two-thirds of the trees standing, lots will range from 16,000 to 34,000 square feet and attract $1 million-plus homes, developers said.

The proposed gated access to Poplar and a secondary access, also gated, on Washington Way in the Yester Oaks subdivision sparked controversy.

Doug Dickens, a vice president for Memphis-based Boyle, said after the meeting that war, the economy and safety are issues generating fear among potential home buyers.

“Today’s marketplace is frightened,” Dickens said. “A gated community just gives peace of mind, and does add value to a piece of property.”

The only Planning Commission member to vote against the proposal, Rick Bennett, argued that Germantown is a safe community, has a responsive government, sells similarly priced homes in neighborhoods without gates and should continue connecting new subdivision phases to existing ones.

Bennett also warned that the commission would be setting a gate-favoring precedent. Currently, fewer than 4 percent of the housing units in Germantown are behind gates, said Josh Whitehead, planning division director.

Dickens predicted that subdivisions with private streets but no gates will be seeking them.

Neighbors in the Yester Oaks, Dogwood Forest and Shady Creek subdivisions won the day on one major concern.

The commission agreed not to allow two-way traffic on Washington Way. Only emergency vehicles would have access to that gate.