Antioch neighbors lose fight against 96-unit low-income housing project

New population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Nashville metro statistical area added 36,337 people during the one-year stretch that ended July 1, 2016, meaning the region grew by an average of 100 people a day over those 12 months. Wochit

Tennessee Court of Appeals cites petitioners’ failure to file a sworn petition within the required 60 days.

The state’s Court of Appeals has upheld a Davidson County Chancery judge’s ruling in favor of a 96-unit low-income apartment project that Antioch neighbors had sought to block.

In Tuesday’s ruling, the three-judge panel that included Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney cited the petitioners’ failure to file a sworn petition within the required 60-day time period.

"We’re going full force going forward on the project," said Arby Smith, member/manager with RichSmith Management LLC, the developer behind The Ridge at Antioch project. "It’s going to provide housing for Nashville’s firefighters, teachers, police and others who are being impacted by the ever-increasing cost of housing in Nashville."

At issue in the case was a Metro Planning Commission’s decision early last year, which allowed Smith’s North Little Rock, Ark.-based development company to pursue the low-income housing project on a 7.8-acre site on Forest View Drive in Antioch.

Concerned neighbors responded by filing two lawsuits in Davidson County Chancery Court and one in Nashville’s federal court, trying to stop The Ridge at Antioch project. All three cases were dismissed by the trial courts, which led the neighbors appeal the two Chancery Court decisions including the one the appellate court ruled on Tuesday.

Gina Crawley, an attorney for petitioners Marilyn Metz, George Metz, Aubrey Pearson, Jacqueline Pearson, Berry Wright and Evelyn Wright, declined to comment Thursday on the appellate court’s decision or her clients’ next course.

Karen Johnson (Photo: Submitted)

Metro Councilwoman Karen Johnson had raised concerns that The Ridge at Antioch would result in concentration of too much poverty on the same block near Murfreesboro Pike. "I applaud the neighbors for fighting for what is right," Johnson, who previously lost an attempt to downzone the property and legislatively block the project, said Thursday.

Johnson accused RichSmith of still trying to put a spin on the company’s type of housing development, which she said would result in three low-income apartment developments within one block. "There are already two and this project would be the third low-income apartment development in one block which is not positive for any community," Johnson said via email. "Affordable housing is good, but this development is a low-income apartment development seeking to build next to two existing low income apartments."

In 2015, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency awarded RichSmith $11 million in low-income housing tax credits for the next 10 years related to The Ridge at Antioch project. The project was granted an exchange with the 2015 credits exchanged for 2017 credits, which extended the development deadlines.

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Reach Getahn Ward at 615-726-5968 and on Twitter @getahn.

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