Proposed apartment complex gets support from city, but pushback from neighbors

BRISTOL, Tenn. - There's controversy brewing over a proposed apartment complex in the Tri-Cities.

Residents in one Bristol, Tennessee neighborhood are concerned that an apartment complex could change their quality of life.

News 5 looked into why the city is supporting the proposal for the complex.

Monday evening people who live near the intersection of Bluff City Highway and Lavinder Lane packed the Slater Center Auditorium to express their concerns about the possibility of having new neighbors.

"I don't think that this 125 unit apartment, as nice as it looks, would be well suited for that area because of the added traffic congestion," said Greg Cochran, a concerned neighbor.

Fears arose after the developer requested a special use permit to build The Villas at Lavinder Lane on a vacant lot.

The property is currently not zoned for an apartment building.

The city-staff presented a recommendation to approve the project to the planning commission at Monday's meeting.

While the project has met opposition from people who live near the proposed development, Bristol, Tennessee Mayor Michelle Dolan tells us the city needs more multi-family housing.

"At this time we are definitely hurting for housing in Bristol, I spoke with a realtor this week and he said that between Bristol and Johnson City they just don't have enough inventory, so we really need the housing in the area," Michelle Dolan, Bristol, Tennessee Mayor.

We reached out to the project developer, Mitch Cox, but he was unavailable so we spoke with his business partner Shane Abraham.

"Bristol is a great place and we know that the market there has a need for it," said Shane Abraham, UDC President.

Nearby residents fear the apartment complex would lead to heavy traffic, overcrowded schools and crime.

But Abraham says he doesn't see that happening.

"These are higher end rent ranges. This would be the highest rent range within Bristol for a mulit-family community. So statically speaking the less crime you're going to have. So I can understand but there are really not the issues that they fear right now," said Abraham.

Monday night the planning commission approved the city staff recommendation for a special use permit to build the apartments.

The developer must give the commission an engineered site plan before the recommendation is given final approval.

This will happen following another public hearing.

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