WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Bill Ligon remembers Wilson County during simpler times when his ancestors settled their family farm in 1789. But a new proposal to alleviate traffic on Mt. Juliet Road could run through part of his property.
“There were no roads just Indian paths and buffalo trails,” Bill Ligon explained. “And this land has been farmed ever since and I am the sixth generation to continue the farming.”
Fast forward to 2022, and the area’s growth has filled those paths and trails. One proposed solution would cut through part of the farm Bill hopes to pass down to his son, Andy.
“Hearing that there’s a possibility of a bypass to run right down the middle of our fields and that would make a huge impact on our farm, where we may not be able to farm for much longer if that happens, it’s truly disheartening, it just rips your heart out of your soul is what it does.”
In addition to helping his dad on the farm, Andy Ligon also works as a full-time equine veterinarian. He said an option for Mt. Juliet’s Wester Connector Project would add a roadway to the middle of their hayfield. That hay is used to feed their livestock, as well as other horses in the area amid a hay shortage.
The Western Connector Project is in the public comment phase, and the Ligons are asking the community to fill out a comment form. They hope the city will opt for an area outside of their farm to use for traffic relief.
Mt. Juliet Public Information Officer Justin Beasley emphasized that no details on the project are set in stone, and the roadway could take years to plan out and complete. After public comments are in, the board of commissioners will decide how to proceed.
Beasley added that well-managed growth and infrastructure are a top priority of the city.
“More and more people not only moving to the city of Mt. Juliet, but people commuting through and to and from, so that’s up to us to figure out. We want to make life easier for our residents and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do here,” Beasley said. “We don’t want to affect anybody’s lifestyle, of course… we do want to reiterate that no decision has been made, still very early in the process.”
The father and son duo say they’re passionate about teaching the community more about agriculture, and family versus factory farming. They have held events like Farm Fest, which saw more than 1,000 attendees.
“We’re trying to help bridge the gap from where so many people are so far removed from the farm that not as many people understand what agriculture does for everybody, not just farmers, it’s a huge impact,” Andy said.
Beasley said if the city did acquire someone’s property for the project, the property owner would receive market value or more for their land. Bill said he gets inquiries daily about purchasing his land and he’s simply not interested in selling.
“We don’t have to have gigantic amounts of money to survive like everybody else does,” Bill said. “We just want to be able to keep farming and for it to continue on generation after generation.”
You can find more information about the Western Connector Project here. Comment cards are due on December 29.