While he’s all for progress, Shelbyville Mayor Wallace “Wally” Cartwright believes Shelbyville could be growing too fast. There’s currently over 800 applications just for pre-development lot approval before the planning commission.
“You like to see progress . . . . I really don’t like to see it coming as fast as it’s coming, because the infrastructure is not there,” said the mayor, who plans to retire in December. “You’ve got to get prepared. That is an expensive issue, getting all the infrastructure in place.”
He explained how there is a 12-inch water main now in place from Highway 231 North at McDale Lane, east through the new subdivisions, south under the 437 Bypass tying into the 12-inch line near his home on Brown Lane.
“They, Shelbyville Water, prepared for this when the bypass was being constructed, by putting a pipe under the road so they could push that 12-inch line under . . . .” that was planning ahead.
Incidentally, the water tank is actually behind the mayor’s house. So above all, he knows there’s plenty of water pressure available.
New hometown designs
Speaking of planning and development, when it comes to cookie cutter designs, like triplexes, or PUD developments, the mayor admits he’s not a fan. He fears that type of development is looming over Shelbyville.
The mayor observes as well that when homes are built close together, like some currently are, there must be firewalls. There’s a draft, or suction during a fire, putting firefighters at risk when fighting fire and fire can easily travel from house to house.
Setbacks for homes are another issue altogether. “Now, we have a man who has about 300 lots that he’s trying to get approved and he’s only got one entry (to serve 300 lots) but I think he understands our concerns."
The mayor says the City Planning Commission, which has/is about to approve a new 4-year comprehensive plan, has directed the developer with the 300 lots to first do a traffic study. The developer, he said, is opposed to that.
There are good reasons to do so, according to the mayor. He uses Highway 41A near Nolensville as an example. He said roads are now having to be widened and even turning lanes added―just to be able to get traffic into housing developments.
These issues just barely scratch the surface and the mayor says it can become stressful. Yet, he’s learned a lot during his governmental journey, he says. He encourages council members to learn all they can about City development.
“When I came on in ’97, I was blindsided, because I had no clue how City government operated. You cannot run government like you do private enterprise.”
The mayor said with all confidence that he hopes following the City election in November that the three upcoming elected City councilpersons and the new mayor (he’s stepping down) will take time to go to the elected officials’ academy, mainly so they can learn how government operates. He did and believes it served him well.
The mayor has certifications and has taken mayoral classes. “I may not have learned much,” the mayor says with a chuckle, “but I sat in them. You will learn some things. I was trying to learn what to do to fulfill my obligations. I knew I was representing the City.”
Each week is filled with at least two or three meetings-sometimes going into the night, “We like to keep the meetings rolling.”
“Some things are not pleasing,” he explains.
Wally’s proud of how he’s pushed for City Council to apply for grant dollars. Even projects that require matching funds on behalf of the City are still good opportunities, the retired businessman advises.
“We don’t have the money to do the project, but we can come up with the money to match the grant. The airport out there . . . everything that’s been done at the airport has cost us a nickel on the dollar that is a 90/5/5 grant. The FAA pays 90 percent, [the] state pays 5% and the City pays 5%. So anytime we can get a dollar for a nickel, I’m for it.”
He explains that parks and recreation grants usually cost the City more, being 50/50 matching opportunities. “That’s all right. If you can get it for half price, I’m OK with that.
"We have been fortunate enough to receive some 100% grants and that really makes us smile. Grants save taxpayers dollars for the projects for which they are approved. We might not get the grant we apply for but we continue to try, if not this year, maybe next.”