Saturday, August 23, 2014

Council meeting of 8/19/14: Ken Jakes honored, President Pro Tem elected, Honky Tonk protection bill dies and more (updated report)

This is one of the more interesting council meetings with several continuous issues and several roll call votes.

This first order of business is the election of President Pro Tem. This is a position of prestige. The duty of this office is to conduct the Council meetings in the absence of the chair. Councilman Davis nominates Lonnell Matthews, Jr. and Council member Karen Bennett nominates Councilman Phil Claiborne. Matthews is a liberal member of the Council and Claiborne is a conservative. While election of pro tem may indicate ideological divisions within the Council, there may be other consideration as important as ideology, so not too much should be read into who lines up behind which candidate In this vote, all of the council members who one may consider as conservatives or who are Republican vote for Claiborne but he also picks up a few other votes. The vote is very close and on a machine vote, Matthews wins 19 to 18. Here is the vote:

For Matthews: Barry, Steine, Maynard, Matthews, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Evans, Holleman, Harmon, Johnson, Potts, Dowell, Mitchell (19).
For  Claiborne: Garrett, Tygard, Harrison, Bennett, Pridemore, Pardue, Glover, Stites, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Baker, Langster, Weiner, Blalock, Dominy, Duvall, Todd (18).
There is one resolution on public hearing concerning the distance requirement for a beer permit and no one speaks and the resolution passes. This is a location that already has a liquor-by-the-drink permit. This seems like such a waste of time. If a place can already serve liquor, why does the council not go ahead and change the law and say the beer permit distance requirements are automatically waived?

All of the resolutions on the Consent Agenda pass and a couple non controversial bills that are not on consent pass. Below are other resolution.

 RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1156   is withdrawn. It is another one of those distance requirements for a beer permit resolutions for an establishment that already has a liquor-by-the-drink permit. It is withdrawn because the patrons of the establishment seeking the beer permit are taking neighborhood parking places. I don't blame the council member for using whatever tool is available to respond to his constituents, but there ought to be a better way to deal with parking controversies than to deny an establishment that already has liquor-by-the-drink permit a beer permit. 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1186  by Council members Tygard and Dominy recognizes Mr. Ken
Ken Jakes
Jakes for his service to our community. It is a memorializing Resolutions. Memorializing resolutions do not  carry the force of law but they express the will of the council. They are usually    lumped with resolutions on the consent agenda.  This Council will pass almost any memorializing resolution.  Surprisingly this resolution proves controversial. It passes, but just barely.

This is a well deserved honor for Mr. Jakes. He is a very giving person and supports all kinds of charitable causes especially giving fruit and vegetables to food banks and other events. Watch the speech by Charlie Tygard to learn more about what kind of person Ken Jakes is. I am proud to call Ken Jakes my friend. The world would be a better place if we had more people like Ken Jakes.

Ken Jakes does much more than just charitable work.  He is a citizen activist who has exposed corruption and waste in Metro Government time and time again, including exposures of the mismanagement at Farmers Market and corruption at NES. Apparently he has stepped on too many toes. I am proud of Councilmen Karen Johnson, and Robert Duvall and Charlie Tygard and Councilman Tony Tennpenny for taking to the floor and speaking on behalf of Ken Jakes and for all of those who voted in favor of this resolution. None of those who voted against Jakes or abstained had the guts to voice their opposition and explain their vote.

The Rules-Confirmations-Public Elections Committee made no recommendation. Here is how the council voted:
“Ayes”: Garrett, Tygard, Bennett, Glover, Stites, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Weiner, Evans, Holleman, Blalock, Dominy, Johnson, Potts, Dowell, Duvall, Todd (18).
“Noes”: Steine, Pridemore, Pardue, Mitchell (4).
“Abstaining”:  Barry, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster (14).

(See time stamp 19:55- 27:35 to watch the discussion.)

BILL NO. BL2014-841 on Second Reading establishes a formula for how big an outdoor residential dog pen must be. It passes.

BILL NO. BL2014-847  on Second Reading passes.  It requires contracts for the companies that lobby the State on behalf of Metro government  and it requires that reports be submitted to the Metropolitan Council detailing what the Metro lobbyist is lobbying for and what the goals of the lobbying effort is and what the impact would be of the outcome the lobbyist is seeking. This is a good bill but I wish it was even stronger. I think Metro's lobbyist should only lobby for or against a bill if specifically authorized to do so by the Council.

BILL NO. BL2014-770  was back on the agenda on third reading and was again deferred.  It
A tall skinny Nashville Duplex
would change the definition of duplex so one could have two units on a piece of property and they would not have to be artificially joined the way they are now, where two protruding utility rooms are the only thing joining the homes. It would also impose heights restrictions. If the units are built to be joined, then a greater portion of the building would have to share a common wall. The tall skinny Nashville duplex would be a thing of the past if this had passed.

BILL NO. BL2014-771 which would create a new code provision for a “contextual overlay district” which could be applied to a neighborhood to ensure that infill development is compatible with surrounding properties, passes 29-8 with two abstention. The bill is substituted to allow the Board of Zoning Appeal to grant variance. I think that is an improvement but still think this is a bad bill.

This bill  does such things as restrict the height to no more than 125% of nearby homes. Already the same thing can be accomplished with an Urban Design Overlay, but this bill makes it easier. I had mixed views of this, but if I was in the Council, I would have to vote against it. There are some neighborhoods that have been transformed from neighborhoods with homes in the $75,000 to $100,000 range to neighborhoods where the homes are worth up to $650,000. If this had been in place those transformation would not have occurred. These transformations do destroy “affordable” housing but they also respond to market demand for more expensive home in Nashville, which results in a higher tax base. Do we want upper middle class people to all move to Williamson County or do we want to let market forces make room for them to live in Davidson County? The bill was approved by the Planning Commission and Planning, Zoning and Historical Committee. After some parliamentary maneuvering the bill passed by the following vote:
“Ayes": Barry, Steine, Garrett, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Bennett, Pridemore, Pardue, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Langster, Weiner, Evans, Holleman, Harmon, Blalock, Johnson, Potts, Dowell, Todd (29).
"No": Tygard, Glover, Stites, Dominy, Duvall, Mitchell (6); “
"Abstaining”:  Banks, Baker (2).
To watch the discussion see time stamp 46:09- 58:35.

SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-776  is the 'Music City Cultural Heritage Overlay' district idea that would have restricted businesses on lower Broadway, 2nd Ave and Printers Alley to live music venues and tacky tea shirt shops and boot stores. In a wise move, the Council killed it.

BILL NO. BL2014-840  which prohibit beer permits from being issued for establishments located within a shopping mall containing a community center and/or public library passes. In my view this is ridiculous. So there is a library at the other end of mall, what is it going to hurt to allow someone to have a beer with their meal or pick up a six-pack to go at the drug store? Here is the vote:
“Ayes”: Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Pridemore, Pardue, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Holleman, Harmon, Blalock, Dowell, Duvall, Todd (24).
“Noes”:  Garrett, Tygard, Glover, Weiner, Evans, Dominy, Mitchell (7)
“Abstaining”: Barry, Steine, Bennett, Johnson, Potts (5).

Below is the Tennessean coverage of the meeting:

by Michael Cass, The Tennessean, Aug. 19, 2014 - A controversial plan that could have made it tougher for chain restaurants and stores to open in parts of downtown Nashville was deferred indefinitely Tuesday by the Metro Council. ......
But critics have said that the measure initially targeted a Walgreens once planned for Lower Broadway — the deal has since fallen through — and that it would have unfairly kept out other chain stores and restaurants, too.

Below is the Nashville Public Radio coverage of the meeting:

New Nashville Law Gives Neighbors A Regulation Tool

Nashville communities now have another tool to help regulate development. On Tuesday, Metro Council passed a new law adopting the so-called contextual overlay district, and supporters say it’ll combat new buildings that chafe against neighborhood fabric. (link)

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