Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Council meeting of 5-7-2013 with summary and commentary

I am kind of late getting around to watching last week's council meeting, but here is my summary. To link to my agenda analysis and find a link to the Metro Staff analysis follow this link: What’s happening at the Council…

Bills on Public Hearing

  • BILL NO. BL2013-348 is on public hearing and generates some discussion. This is the massive rezoning in mid-town of 81 acres of property which increases the housing density of the area. It passes.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-402 amends the Metro Code concerning various waste management land uses. It modifies the zoning districts within which construction and demolition (C&D) landfills are permitted and modifies setback requirements, landscape buffer requirements, and operating hour restrictions applicable to these landfills. This bill is deferred indefinitely.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-403 limits the amount of lighting that can cover a building’s roof or walls. No one speaks at the public hearing and it passes.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-418 modifies which zoning districts specific automobile related uses are permitted. I thought this might generate some controversy, but it didn’t and the bill passed. 
  •  BILL NO. BL2013-419 concerns the set back requirement and "bulk" of the building permitted on lots which happen to be smaller than the standard lot for that particular zoning classification. There was no one on either side wishing to speak and it passes.

All of the resolutions that are on the consent agenda pass without any being pulled.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-670 which establishes the certified tax rate in both the General Services District and the Urban Services District is not on the consent agenda. This bill is deferred to “track” with the budget. State law requires that following a general reappraisal that a new tax rate be established that brings in no more revenue than the tax rate prior to the reappraisal.

About half way through the agenda the audio for all councilmembers except the Vice Mayor is lost and stays off for about 15 minutes.

Bills on Second Reading:

BILL NO. BL2013-420 creates a small business economic development incentive grant program. As you are probably aware, Metro Council has been picking winner and looser by bribing big companies not to leave metro and "enticing" big companies to expand or relocate to Davidson County. Some have argued that this is wrong and the same enticements should be offered to small businesses. I do see this policy as a problem. By paying companies to locate or not to leave we create an incentive whereby a company would be foolish to move here unless they get their pay-off and we have created an incentive for companies to threaten to leave unless we pay them to stay. Unfortunately, it is hard to stop playing this game since other cities are also playing it. Cities have created an environment where they have to pay the incentive or another city that does pay the incentive will get the big corporate headquarter relocations and manufacturing plants. I don't think the way to fix this problem is to expand it to small businesses. This bill is deferred one meeting to track with the budget ordinance. I suspect it will pass since the mayor has included money in his budget to fund it, but I don’t think it should.

BILL NO. BL2013-423 would swap some Metro land for some State land. The land that the School for the Arts sits on and the land that will be the site of the future STEM charter school located on the old Tennessee Preparatory School site on Foster Ave, would be swapped for the old Ben West Library site downtown at Eighth and Union Ave . Metro now owns the library and the State owns the TPS site. It is unusual that a bill is discussed on first reading, but last council meeting this one was. Councilman Bo Mitchell argued against it, arguing that it was an uneven swap and Metro was getting a poor deal, however he may have been motivated by his dislike of charter schools. (See his remarks at this link.) There is also some opposition to tearing down the old Ben West library because some preservationist consider the building architecturally significant. The most persuasive argument against the deal is that there is a deed restriction that requires the site to be used as a library or revert to the heirs of those who gave the land to Metro to be used as a library. I think deed restrictions should be honored as a matter of principle but as a matter of practicality we should not move forward with this deal until the title issues have been resolved. This bill was deferred without discussion.

Bills on Third Reading: 

BILL NO. BL2012-292 would liberalize the policy on home recording studios. It is deferred indefinitely. (To see the discussion, see 62:15- 67:07 in the video.) This was a bill that should have passed. Below are news stories on the bill.
Memorializing RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-665 would have created within the council a "residential caucus" to "address municipal issues of the resident citizens of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County." I do not see the necessity of this bill at all. If every member of the Council, can be on the caucus, then why have a caucus? It was deferred indefinitely. (For the discussion, see 1:02:33- 1:08:56)
The Tennessean, May 7, 2013 - A controversial Metro Council proposal to change the city’s codes to accommodate home recording studios was deferred indefinitely by its sponsor Tuesday after some residents complained about the potential impact on neighborhoods.

Councilwoman Megan Barry, the sponsor and a likely candidate for mayor in 2015, said there was enough support to pass the bill but that it deserved to pass “by a large margin, not a narrow one.”(link)

Council defers home studio, land swap bills 

By Pierce Greenberg, City Paper,Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - The council was set to take up a bill approving a land swap agreement with the state on second reading. The agreement, which would have given Metro the former Tennessee Preparatory School property in exchange for the old Ben West library building in downtown, was deferred for a meeting.(link)

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