In the southern region of Davidson County rests a few small pockets of houses and buildings that have an unusual distinction.
The land — a few square miles altogether — is physically within Nashville. But its properties have Brentwood mailing addresses.
Curious Nashville listener Eleanor Mohrmann was first made aware of this area while researching health care several years ago while reporting for the Nashville Business Journal. She found that multiple hospitals were aiming to expand to an area north of Old Hickory Boulevard, which cuts through this Nashville-or-Brentwood zone. She asked:
“Why does part of the southern edge of Davidson County have Brentwood mailing addresses?”
She’s not alone with her question.
The Tennessean has recounted all kinds of confusion over the years: Around 2002, the paper reported that a Metro audit found businesses were actually paying their taxes to the wrong county.
There’s also been a habit of businesses including “Brentwood” in their company names without actually being within the city limits.
And a 2008 story showed how families had to tread carefully when trying to get their children into Williamson County schools. (If a family’s home has a Brentwood mailing address but is located in Davidson County, their children will be zoned to Metro Schools.)
Despite the confusion, the reason behind surprising mailing addresses is easily explained. In short, it involves the differences between postal addresses, ZIP codes and city limits.
Brentwood City Manager Kirk Bednar says addresses are determined by ZIP code. The U.S. Postal Service creates those, and they don’t adhere to county lines or city limits.
So the 37027 ZIP includes mostly Brentwood but also a few pockets of southern Davidson County.
This ZIP is served by the Brentwood Post Office. Bednar notes the building is actually located in the Davidson portion, making it a perfect example of this curious crossroads.
Despite the concerns that may arise when considering this peculiar area, the truth is that its labels are no more than simple technicalities.
And this friction is felt in other parts of Middle Tennessee, like in Spring Hill. Some portions of the city have Columbia or Thompson’s Station mailing addresses.
That bothered one official. But when he suggested redrawing the ZIP code a few years ago, for about 2,000 households, the community pushed back and the measure was tabled.