Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Council meeting of 3-4-14 with commentary and timestamp: To go cups, $66M for HCA, and Metro gets out of the nursing home business



This is a 1 hour and 27 minute-long meeting. To link to the agenda and the staff analysis, follow this link.

All appointments to Board and Commission are approved without discussion.

Bills on Public Hearing: There are 16 bills on public hearing. Most of them are rezoning bills and would not be of general interest and would interest only immediate neighbors of the proposed rezoning. I am not going to attempt to report on all of the bills on public hearing.

SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-651 would regulate small outdoor music events in commercial areas. Currently other than a noise ordinance, outdoor music events are not regulated. This bill sets all kinds of restrictions including setbacks, lighting, pre notification, only one per month, off street parking, and they must end by 9PM on week nights. There are a lot of people in support of the bill and no one in opposition and no one speaks on the bill. Councilmember Allen says the goal of this bill is to create an opportunity for outdoor music events where they are not now available. She says the bill does not make it harder to make music in music city but easier.

I must be missing something because to me, it appear it imposes a lot of restrictions where there are now none except the noise ordinance. The staff analysis says that "aside from the noise ordinance, the code does not currently regulate or specifically authorize concerts on commercially zoned property." If everything that is not specifically authorized is prohibited, then I guess Councilmember Allen is correct. However, I am not certain that everything not specifically authorized in a commercial area is prohibited. If someone who knows for certain can enlighten me on this, I will post a clarification. 

In any event, this bill is going to make it very difficult to host a music event in commercial areas on private property. The requirement of off street parking for people attending an event would prohibit almost all outdoor music event. In a commercial area vacant lots for off street parking are simply not available. People park where they can find a place to park and walk to the event. A "second substitute" is passed and the bill passes. There is no discussion of the bill.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2014-653 would require that historic home events must be inside a structure. The sponsor defers the bill indefinitely.

The consent agenda passes. All resolutions are on the consent agenda except a late resolution and RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1013 supporting the creation of a Presidential Youth Council. Resolution 1013 passes also without discussion.

The late resolution is a resolution regarding "to go" cups. The Council goes on record against enabling legislation from the State legislature that would allow Metro to legalize to go cups. I really like "to go" cups. I hate to go into a bar and order a drink and then the band takes a break or ends their set and you have to wait thirty minutes for the next band to set up. With a to go cup you could put your beer in a Solo cup and go out on the street and walk down Broadway or go in another bar, if that bar allowed you to take your plastic cup into their establishment. The legislation would not legalize to go cups but would simply allow Metro to legalize them if Metro chose to do so. The resolution passes 30 to 3 and 3 abstentions. To see the discussion see time stamp 37:37-47:38.

All bills on First Reading pass without discussion as is customary.

Bills on Second Reading. 

  • BILL NO. BL2013-569 which would create new regulations for car lots is deferred indefinitely. This bill had been on the agenda for months.
  •  BILL NO. BL2014-688 would get Metro Government out of the nursing home business. This is long overdue. We should have privatized these facilities a long time ago. Councilman Tenpenny expresses concern about what will happen to the displaced metro employees and unsuccessfully attempts to get the bill deferred. There a machine vote to table the motion to defer and a machine vote to cut off debate. The final vote is 32 in favor, 3 opposed and 2 not voting. (See timestamp 54:35-1:16:24 for the discussion)

Bills on Third Reading:
  • BILL NO. BL2013-588 is a rezoning bill that would allow the demolition of three duplexes and allow the construction of eight cottage-type units as single family homes in the Woodland-in-Waverly community. This was on third reading last meeting and was deferred to this meeting and it is deferred again. This in my neighborhood and that is why I am following this bill. This would concern no one unless they live in the neighborhood or are the developer. This neighborhood has an historic overlay, but the three duplexes are non-contributing to the historic character of the community. I support this bill. I think the duplexes are more out of character of the neighborhood than the cottages will be and I think this will be an improvement. Some in the community are very much opposed, and have raised the specter that the units could be rented to college students and house up to six students a unit adding up to 48 cars to the neighborhood, adding to the problem of on-street parking. I doubt that is a realistic likelihood. If it is they could do the same think with six duplex units. I see no reason for further deferral. If a rezoning meets all of the current requirements of a rezoning, it should not be killed by repeated deferral simply because some of the most active people in the community oppose it. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-667 is complex in why it does what it does, but the bottom line it does nothing detrimental to the fair grounds and appropriates $200,000 to the fairgrounds. It passes. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-669 provides up to $66 million in tax abatement and other incentives to HCA for a development on the north end of the gulch. It passes unanimous.

Below is the Tennessean's report on this council meeting:  
Council approves $66 million in incentives for HCA to expand in North Gulch


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