Saturday, March 17, 2012

Update: What to look for on the March 20th Metro Council agenda

You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Agenda. The agenda also links to the analysis. Council meetings can be really, really boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on. With an agenda and analysis, they are just really boring.

These are the bills to watch:

Ordinance No. BL2012-118 on first reading would provide property tax abatement for the Gaylord-Dollywood snow-water park. Usually bills on first reading pass unanimously without debate. This bill however is already proving controversial and I would not be surprised if one or two council members do not wish to be recorded as voting "no."     

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-83 by Councilman Stanley on second reading allows Metro water services to extend water lines to residential properties currently served by private wells.  This bill was deferred by the council at the Feb. 7th Council meeting from that meeting to this meeting.  The current policy is that expansion of water lines is the responsibility of a developer when developing new properties and that if an individual property owner wishes to access metro water and there is no water line in front of his property, then the property owner must pay the cost of the water line extension.   While I feel sorry for those homeowners living with contaminated wells, I would hope the Council would thoughtfully consider this bill before voting for it. The cost of extending water to all 31 homes in Davidson County that are on private wells would be approximately $2 million. The director of finance has not certified that funds are available to implement this ordinance.  See the analysis for the explanation of the bill.  To see Councilman Stanley explain the bill, follow this link and see the video starting at 25:06. 

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-110  on second reading would permit the electronic filing of annual disclosure statements and benefits reporting statements. I don't see any argument against it and it is a good bill and should pass.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-115 on second reading would prohibit smoking on hospital grounds and within the public right-of-way in the vicinity of hospital entrances.  Hospitals already ban smoking on their grounds and the city can and does ban smoking within 50 feet of the entrance to a hospital. This bill would expand that ban to 200 feet. I know smoking is an unhealthy habit, but simply walking past someone who is 50 feet down the sidewalk from the hospital entrance is not going to hurt anyone. We need to have a little tolerance and compassion for the smokers of society.  I hope this bill does not pass. Surely there are some Council Members who feel this is government overreach. It will be interesting to see if anyone will stand up for smokers.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-116 on second reading is another of those bills that would provide property tax relief as a pay off for developing in Nashville.

Ordinance BL2012-88 by Councilman Claiborne on third reading amends the Metropolitan zoning code to add "non-self-imposed hardship" as a factor for the historic zoning commission to consider when determining whether to allow the demolition of a historic building. This will probably pass without dissent, however watch it. There is a new scrutiny of any bills that would expand or curtail private property rights or government planning and zoning authority.

Ordinance BL2012-92 sponsored by Council Members Dominy, Duvall, and others on third reading would expand private property protection for non conforming properties. It brings the code into conformity with state law that allows one to let a property cease operation for up to 30 continuous months before being required to comply with new zoning laws. The other thing this bill would do is to "toll" the 30 month period if the delay is due to litigation or natural disaster such as a flood. "Toll" is a legal term meaning to delay, suspend or hold off the effect of a statute. This is a good bill and needs to pass. Last council meeting this was adopted by a voice vote of the Council so it will probably pass without discussion or opposition. However, like the bill above this is one of those type of bills that is getting new scrutiny.

Ordinance BL2012-103 by Council Member Dominy on third reading  is the controversial bill that would permit an asphalt plant to be built in Antioch but comes with lots of restrictions and protections. There has been considerable opposition to the the bill and an on-line petition drive. To view the public hearing on this bill from the March 6th meeting, follow this link and start viewing the video at 21:24.

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