Friday, June 20, 2014

What happend at the Council Meeting of 6/17/2014: The Gay Nashville meeting.

To get your own copy of the agenda, the Council staff analysis and to read my commentary about the agenda, follow this link. Council meeting are not as boring if you know what is going on.
BILL NO. BL2014-774 775, and  779 are taken out of order and considered first.

BILL NO. BL2014-774  is the mayor's operating budget for $1,891,647,000. This budget is $79 million greater than the current operating budget. This bill is substituted with the Council version of the budget that makes minor tweaks to the mayor's budget. Council member Stein takes a few minutes to explain the budget changes and as expected the budget passes. No one votes in opposition. A "no" vote would have been a vote against the Council version of the budget, which in effect would have been a vote for the Mayor's version of the budget.  If the Council does not pass their own budget, the Mayor's budget is the budget by default.

BILL NO. BL2014- is the tax levy and it passes. 

BILL NO. BL2014-  is the bill to extend metro benefits to same-sex couples. (For the discussion time stamp 15:35-32.24). Sponsor Westerholm makes a four minute speech in favor of the bill casting it as a continuation of expansion of civil rights. Claiborne speaks in opposition focusing on the economic impact which is estimated between a low of $400,000 a year to over $2 million a year. He moves to defer the vote until an actuarial study can be done to determine the true cost. That move is tabled by a vote of  26 to 10. Three members were absent and from what I can gather they legitimately were absent due a vacation in the case of Karen Bennett, who voted to abstain when the bill was on second reading, and family emergencies in the case of Weiner and Stites. Stites was a leading opponent when the bill was on second reading and Weiner was also absent last meeting but assured me she opposed the bill. Three members voted against the motion to table the motion to defer who did not vote against the final bill. Those three additional votes were Blalock, Standly, and Charlie Tygard. While, I don't give them a lot of credit, at lease they did vote to not pass the bill this meeting.

Back on the original bill there is more discussion. Pridemore  speaks against it based on moral values. This bill passes with the following vote:  “Ayes” Barry, Steine, Garrett, Tygard, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Stanley, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Evans, Holleman, McGuire, Harmon, Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Todd, Mitchell (27) “Noes” Pridemore, Pardue, Glover, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Dominy, Duvall (7); “Abstaining” Blalock, Dowell (2).

This is a very disappointing outcome. I am very disappointed in Republicans Charlie Tygard and Carter Todd who voted for this bill and in Davette Blalock who abstained. I am also disappointed in the Bible-believing Christian pastors in this community who did not take a stand against it and the other social conservatives. If those who support traditional values had worked as hard against this bill as the homosexual community did in favor of it, it could have been defeated. The social conservatives simply did not join the fight. I commend all of those brave council members who voted "no."

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1126 which is the first step toward the sale of up to $275 million in GSD General Obligation bonds to fund various projects in the 2014-2015 Capital Improvements Budget passes as expected.

 SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-715  on third reading waives the fees for application and advertising of rezoning of property when the request is made by a councilmen under certain circumstances. Basically this would apply when a whole area is being rezoned, such as when a neighborhood is being zoned from residential which allows duplexes to single unit only residential, or when a conservation overlay is being proposed for a neighborhood. The fees associated with this type rezoning can come to several thousand dollars. This bill is strongly favored by organized neighborhood groups who often cannot raise that kind of money and who feel they should not have to do so to get a zoning change for their neighborhood. The planning commission voted against this. The Director of Finance has refused to certify it as to the availability of funds saying it could cost the city up to $150,000 a year.  This bill required 27 votes to pass the Council since it was disapproved by the Planning Commission and it got 33 votes. Only Council member Sandra Moore abstained and no one voted "no." I am pleased to see the Council hang together and beat the Mayor on something.

BILL NO. BL2014-769 on third reading allows a second dwelling to build on residential lots of over 15,000 square feet or lots with alley access. One of the units would have to be owner occupied.  The smaller unit could not be over 700 square feet in living area. Some neighborhood groups oppose this bill. I support it.

Nashville is expected to have significant growth over the next few years.  If we are going to avoid Atlanta-type urban sprawl we must have greater density. If we want successful mass transit we need greater density. Also we are seeing a lot of "affordable" housing units destroyed and replaced with much larger homes.  This replacing of small homes with larger homes is good for the tax base but it means people of modest income are being forced out of the city.  Many of the housing units that would be build under this bill would be affordable. Another reason I support this bill is that there is often a need for one's aging parents or underemployed children to have this type of housing.

A Nashville tall skinny duplex

BILL NO. BL2014-770 on third reading to allow two detached units on a single lot instead of the requirement that they share a common wall is deferred and rereferred to the Planning and Zoning Committee. The bill would also restrict how tall and skinny a building could be. I generally am in support of this, but hope that the Board of Zoning appeal would have lee way regarding the height restrictions.

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