Thompson’s Station is one of the fastest growing towns in the counties surrounding Nashville, but it is also home to many backdoor deals and shady developments committed at the hands of its Mayor and Aldermen.
Mayor Corey Napier, who took office on the Board of Mayor and Alderman in 2008 and later became Mayor in 2014, is now at the center of a lawsuit filed by Whistle Stop Farms, a developer that had acquired 142 acres of land in the town to build housing developments.
The lawsuit accuses Napier of pulling out of the deal after over $120,000 in development fees, grading permits and other fees had already been paid based on the approvals granted by the city. None of those fees have been returned to the developers despite the city refusing to allow the development to proceed as approved.
In reliance on those approvals and the fees paid to the city and permits obtained from the city by the developer, it is estimated that several million dollars in development costs have already been spent in site preparation, planning and other expenses.
Additionally, the lawsuit accuses Napier of personally plotting against Jay Franks, who’s heading the project, to ensure that the project was never completed, The Tennessean reported Tuesday based on information contained in the Amended Complaint pending in Federal District Court.
You can read the amended complaint here:052 First Amended Complaint 2018.06.07
Napier is facing simultaneous criticisms for failing to live up to his campaign promises, according to Alderman Graham Shepard, who has detailed the mayor’s shortcomings on his blog. Among Shepard’s criticisms are at least seven instances in which Napier sided with developers over voters in allowing what Shepard calls “unlimited construction of high-density residential products.”
Throughout his time as mayor, Napier has been supported by ally Alderman Brandon Bell in transforming the town “into an urban development” at the expense of its “small town feel,” Shepard alleges.
In one instance, Bell voted in favor of approving a housing development in front of an area known as Tollgate Village, but was accused of a conflict of interest because the project could personally benefit his career in the real estate industry.
“Is it far-fetched really to see how this would help your career if you decide to apply for a job at one of the architectural firms that Mr. McGowan’s company (Regent Homes) does business with?” Shepard challenged Bell, an architect at Gresham Smith and Partners, during a May meeting. Shepard has also laid out in detail at least three changes that had been made to the Tollgate Village project throughout the course of its development, though Bell told voters that “it did not change.”
In what is amounting to be a highly consequential small-town election, several local candidates are stepping up to challenge incumbent aldermen and Mayor Napier. Mike Roberts will challenge Napier in November’s mayoral contest, emphasizing transparency of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) with the community.
“I want BOMA to understand your concerns, which unfortunately I don’t think has been taken into account for some time,” Roberts said in a recent video, saying one of his first acts as mayor will be to introduce regular “community meetings” so that residents can express their concerns over the “current level of growth and development” and “neighborhood density.”
“BOMA needs to have as much community insight as possible,” Roberts emphasized. “I think we need to talk about what’s important to members of the community.”
Several others are are declaring candidacy for Aldermen, such as Shaun Alexander, a commercial builder and current member of the town’s Planning Commission. “My experience in this industry will be a valuable addition to the board as the town continues to grow, and will protect us from making poor decisions regarding infrastructure as the board has done in the past,” Alexander said on his campaign website, criticizing the current BOMA for “serving political self-interests” over residents.
Two others, Steve Hockett and Trent Harris, will also seek election to BOMA. Hockett is retired from his profession in the civil engineering industry and is a longtime resident of Thompson’s Station, while Harris is currently serving out his term as a member of the Planning Commission.
Local elections will be held November 6.