Monday, March 17, 2014

What is on the Council Agenda for March 18 with Agenda and staff analysis.

If you don't know what the Council is voting on, Council meetings are really boring. With an agenda and an analysis they are just boring. To follow along, you can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. To get your copy of the Council staff analysis download it at this link: Council Staff analysis.

This ought to be a short meeting.  There are several rezoning bills on third reading but they should not take up a lot of time. Below are bills of interest:

Substitute RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-948, on the consent agenda, appropriating $4.3 million from the Undesignated Fund Balance of the to the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools General Purpose Fund Operational Account for the purpose of funding the purchase laptops for teaches to assist in technology training for common core testing. This bill has been pending for months and at one time was over $13 million and included money for laptop computers and an incentive program for teacher retirement. The laptops and the teacher retirement incentive were financed in other resolutions which have already passed. With the State delaying implementation of Common Core for two years, the city needs to decide if it is moving forward with Common Core despite the State's two year deferral.

It is my understanding, that for Metro to move ahead with Common Core, it would have to get permission from the State. If we do not move forward, then we have wasted $6 million in purchasing laptops prematurely. If we cannot move forward there is not use throwing good money after bad. At the time the Council approved spending the money on laptops, I commented we should wait to see what the State did before moving forward with appropriating that money. Common Core's passage was in doubt at that time. No one on the Council took my advised and the laptop purchase was approved. If the purchase has not actually occurred yet, the Council should require the School Board to return that money unless we are moving forward with Common Core.

This resolution we most likely be withdrawn or deferred again, because the Department of Finance will not certify the availability of funds, preferring to maintain the balance in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools General Purpose Fund. While it is on the consent agenda at this time, I do not expect it to be on the consent agenda on Tuesday.

BILL NO. BL2014-696 on second reading require the Director of Finance to submit an annual debt report to the Metropolitan Council. This is a good bill and deserves to pass. The council needs a clearer picture of the city's total debt obligations. The sponsor of this bill is Councilman Clairborne.

BILL NO. BL2014-698 on second reading would provide a new enforcement mechanism associated with the discontinuance of the delivery of nonsubscription published material. You know those unwanted free newspapers the Tennessean throws in your driveway? They accumulate in the yards of vacant homes and in some occupied homes where the owner never picks them up. I find them real annoying. Why that is not littering is because the First Amendment give broad latitude to distributors of information . This bill would not put a stop to the practice of littering by the Tennessean, but would strengthen the opt-out option. Still, it would be difficult to force them to stop and few would go to the effort. Nevertheless, I support this bill.

BILL NO. BL2013-588 on third reading 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 the last two council meetings and was deferred to this meeting. This in my neighborhood. This is one of those bills that 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 or for disapproving this bill. It was approved by the Planning Commission and Historical Commission. 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. Neighborhood activist have waged a campaign against the project and got a lot of signatures opposing it. The truth is people will sign almost anything someone ask them to sign, so I am not so sure people other than the handful of activist really care about this issue. Councilman Sandra Moore has not yet said what she will do with this bill.

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 were a lot of people in support of the bill and no one in opposition when it was on pubic hearing. Member of the Council  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 Council member Allen is correct. However, I am not certain that everything not specifically authorized in a commercial area is prohibited. I would have like to have had this point clarified but simply did not have the time. 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. If this bill was necessary to allow outdoor music in music city, surely we could have developed a bill that made it possible to actually meet the regulatory requirements. The off street requirement alone will most likely kill most outdoor music events.

BILL NO. BL2014-688 would get Metro out of the nursing home business. This is long overdue.

Memorizing RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1029 request the State of Tennessee to offer driver license examinations in Arabic. Memorizing resolutions are on the consent agenda unless removed. I would not necessarily oppose this resolution, but I would expect an explanation of why it is being proposed. I would not imagine there are that many people here who speak Arabic. In what other language do we offer the test? Who requested this?

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