Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Piperton: A Town Build On Speed Traps And Land Grabs

With grand plans to become a community known for its strong strategic planning and its sustainability policies, the Town of Piperton at the same time runs the risk of giving new meaning to the term, Podunk community.

The appellation is particularly ironic in light of all the media coverage about town officials’ concerns about growth issues and future population growth pressures. It’s particularly ironic considering that the hamlet, nestled on the western border of Fayette County and snuggled up against Collierville sees that $500 million incentive for sprawl – Tennessee Highway 385 – as a godsend, dumping traffic and thousands of new residents into its borders.

While the town’s elected officials and city manager talk eloquently about smart growth, sustainable developments and the like, dozens of new $500,000 houses are sprouting up in areas that were crop fields only a few years ago. Most of these homes are located on two-lane rural roads off the primary artery through the town – U.S. Highway 57.

Speed Trap

Strangely, it seems like the more that Piperton tries to act like a real city, it’s apparently not mature enough to tackle its well-deserved reputation as a speed trap.

Although Highway 57 is more or less has the major gravitational pull for the town, incredibly, the town has gone to great lengths to annex – thanks to the largely impotent urban growth boundary laws of Tennessee – the land on which U.S. Highway 72 is located between Collierville and the Mississippi state line. No one familiar with the area would even suspect that Piperton could be in charge there, because it’s so removed from the town itself.

And while city and county officials try to argue that Piperton is not a speed trap, the only purpose of this annexation appears to be an added opportunity to lower the speed limit below all reasonable levels and hand out tickets to as many drivers as possible.

Paying For Piperton

Already, the town cops are known for their relentless work to hit their quota of speeding tickets, but in extending its reach to Highway 72, it becomes clear that the town’s finances must be built on speeding tickets.

In a creative attempt to justify the speed traps, Fayette County General Sessions Judge Mike Whitaker called it a highly effective deterrent to crime. Apparently, in the judge’s understanding of the criminal element, people bent on committing crime are scared to get caught speeding through Piperton.

In other words, in order to catch a handful of people, if any, speeding away from crimes in Fayette County and rushing back to that hotbed of crime, Shelby County, Piperton justifies stopping thousands of people a year who have no more evil intent than in getting to Rossville.


It’s the town equivalent of making all of us take off our shoes at the airport because of one shoe bomber.

Meanwhile, Piperton and Fayette County officials proudly claim that the motorists’ harassment has in fact reduced the crime rate for the town, dropping it from 1,517 per 100,000 in 2000 and 1,415 in 2006.

It’s one of those statistics thrown out to back up an opinion you already have. The drop in the crime rate in the town isn’t the result of this special brand of traffic enforcement. More to the point, it’s the result of the increased population which drives the rate downward.

In addition to the traffic code, the mayor might give new policeman copies of Freakonomics.

It’s Not About Services

These same city officials predicted that the population of Piperton would reach 11,000 by 2010. That’ll require an awful lot of growth in the next three years. Population today is estimated to be 959. In other words, all of this heavy coverage by The Commercial Appeal is generated by a growth of about 400 people since 2000.

Recent data shows approval of permits for 21 buildings averaging $397,600 in 2005 and 35 buildings averaging $302,000 in 2004.

All in all, the growth of Piperton remains somewhat baffling in light of the overall poor state of public services in Fayette County - the lack of sewerage facilities, the problems of its public schools, the lack of emergency services like ambulances, and erratic fire protection.

Land Grab

This lack of quality public services doesn’t dampen Piperton’s ambitions, as it announces plans to pursue 14,000 more acres as part of its urban growth boundary, increasing its current annexation area from 14,404 acres to 24,870 acres.

The land grab by Piperton, and mimicked by Gallaway and Oakland, is aimed at gobbling up the land in Fayette County around Highway 385 and more to the point, gobbling up its expected tax revenues. It may not be easy, because Fayette County was one of the last counties in Tennessee to reach agreement on the growth boundaries required by Tennessee Growth Policy Act, Public Chapter 1101, Acts of 1998, and it didn’t happen until arbitration took place.

Regardless of the outcome, all of this maneuvering makes a mockery of the intent of the Growth Policy Act, which seems to have been a law passed mainly as a safety valve for the political pressure building on the Tennessee Legislature at that time. And as happens so often, once the immediate crisis passed, there really wasn’t anybody in state government paying any special attention to the kinds of urban growth boundaries that could contribute to smart growth in our state.


Anonymous said...

so how fast were you going when they nailed you?

Anonymous said...

It is definitely a speed trap, and no I have never received a ticket there.
If they were truly interested in smart growth and building a really first class community (which they're not by the way), they would institute a greenway and trail system throughout the town's reserve area and require any new development to set aside trail areas that would link up throughout the town. I recently spent time in Park City, Utah and it's incredible what they've done there with their trail system that networks and winds throughout the town. Piperton could easily do something similar that would make it a world class town in 10-20 years. But if they don't do it now, it won't happen when the town gets built out. Like every other mid-south municipality, their decisions are made by the vested interests of developers, who are only interested in their own wallets.

Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous 8:53: I'm proud to say that I've never even been stopped, much less ticketed.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Piperton Reserve Area and admire the development the city is making. They are NOT allowing McMansions and offer lovely, large wooded lots with wooded areas within lake-like settings.

I do not live in a mansion by any means and my husband and I are just regular working people. We moved from Germantown, which also got its reputation as a speed trap years ago. They had one policeman and you could speed through there only at night, since he was at home asleep. But as the town grew, that crime deterrent of enforced speed limits aided the city to attract home owners and businesses which have led it to become one of the premier cities in Tennessee. Germantown now boasts a fine reputation for great police protection and low crime. Hopefully Piperton is headed down that same path. And hopefully they will include green belt areas along the way to ensure those lovely trees and lakes are preserved to attract even more citizens to buy homes there.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like sour grapes to me!

Anonymous said...

I am rolling in the floor with laughter. This blogspot name is an oxymoron...there is no such thing as “smart city memphis”. Memphis is a failure as a city in every fashion and does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Piperton, Tennessee. Keep on trying partner. LOL

Anonymous said...

We hope you like trains.

Viagra Online said...

I can not believe that $500 million incentive for sprawl, so I think that it is a lot of money.
Dumping traffic is one of the most important things in a city.!!!

Anonymous said...

Was not speeding but was stopped by cop that was clocking cars driving from other direction. A pickup had just passed us & we were the last in line of 3 or 4 cars. My husband and I were just commenting how he was driving the speed limit but that the truck felt it necessary to pass us, so we know exactly what speed we were driving, and almost immediately a police car makes a u-turn and stops us. We had no idea why he was stopping us since we knew we were not speeding, and were astonished when he told us he clocked us at 56 in a 45. On top of that, he was a complete jerk about it and would not allow my husband to ask a simple question. I guess we were the "lucky ones" since we were at the back of the line of cars, but it is quite unfair that my husband now has to take a 1/2 day off of work to drive all the way back to to court in Piperton and basically it ends of being his word against ours. I wish somebody could tell me how we could possibly be going 56 with cars in front of us going 45.... Makes absolutely no sense. If we were speeding, we would be gracious and pay the ticket. This particular situation was downright unfair.

Anonymous said...

The first time i drove through piperton i got a ticket when they speed trapped me. They put a sign at the top of a hill and right on the other side a couple hundred feet from the lowered speed limit sign was a piperton wanna be cop that was in the grass next to a spot to turn around on 72 in the median. He was so far down in the grass you could only see the top of his light bar which is RIDICULOUS!! Go back in your city and write all the tickets you want stay off 72. The speed dropped 15 mph and i had a load on the truck and couldnt slow down in 200 ft. Thats cheating how are you gonna hide on the other side of the sign buried in the grass. Man up and do real police work and try doing it in your own city.

Anonymous said...

July 28, 2012
Still the same thing going on... watch out! He is waiting/watching way down in the median for you..

Anonymous said...

Omg I was just stopped there and didn't believe I was speeding he got me doing 56 in a 45 . Sounds a little strange to me.

Anonymous said...

Half of my family of four have received tickets in Piperton. What's worse is we live over 150 miles away. Two separate trips to Memphis netted two speeding tickets from a very well hidden town. I was planning on moving my manufacturing operation to the Memphis area. However, since these incidents, I have chosen to move to Huntsville, Alabama. I just don't need the added harassment of Piperton on my truck drivers and employees. I'll be conducting my business where I am confident that the local government will be supportive. So, enjoy your $150 tickets, and I will take 120 jobs to your neighbouring state.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone successfully fought one of these bs tickets

Beatspeeding said...

Nice post about Speeding Tickets
! It is very informative!