At 4 hours and 40 minutes long this is a long meeting. Most of it is hearings on zoning matters and I have just skimmed those quickly. To watch the meeting at a faster speed but if not offered that option, follow this link and click HTML5. That should then give you that option. I can usually watch it at double speed and not lose much content. One thing that makes this a long meeting is that the voting machine is not working and all roll call votes have to be taken by a show of hands.
To find a link to the agenda, the council staff analysis and my analysis and commentary follow this link.
Here are the items on public hearing of interest:
BILL NO. BL2015-1153 on amends the metro zoning code to provide for more alternative zoning districts. The purpose of this is so that neighborhoods can be rezoned to allow a more pedestrian friendly environment and a more urban feel without requiring a SP zoning overlay. Some of the new zoning districts address things such as smaller lots, alley access, and setbacks.It passes. No one speaks on it.
BILL NO. BL2015-1209 on public hearing which would rezone 525 acres from in North Nashville from AR2a and R10 to SP zoning to SP to permit a mixed use development is withdrawn at the request of the sponsor because the area has not undergone a Master Plan process for the Bordeaux Redevelopment District.
BILL NO. BL2015-1210 on public hearing amends the Metro zoning code to create “natural gas compressor station” as a new use to be permitted in the industrial zoning districts. That would mean they would be permitted only in industrial zoned districts. The impetus for this is to stop a proposed gas compression station planned in Joelton. There are a whole lot of people in support and a few in opposition. Those in opposition are people associated with the gas line project. State Rep Brenda Gilmore speaks in support and their are about 40 people wearing yellow tee shirts with the slogan "no pipeline compressor" in the audience and several speak in support. Without this bill the pipeline companies could build gas compression stations wherever they thought they were needed, subject to getting a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, the staff analysis says that Federal law prohibits local governments from regulating natural gas facilities through zoning so even if passed the courts would likely rule it not enforceable. See the public hearing see time stamp at time stamp 1:36:07 where Ken Jakes, citizen activist and candidate for Councilman at-large, speaks in favor. It passes second reading on a voice vote. For the full discussion see time stamp 52:21- 1:59:34.
BILL NO. BL2015-1273 creates the Bordeaux Redevelopment Plan which would cover an area of 525 acres and would allow Tax Increment financing to be available in the area covered by this plan. Under TIF the increased property tax revenue generated by a development is used to pay the debt service on loans for the construction of improvements related to the project. Redevelopment plans must be approved by the council under state law for the purpose of redeveloping blighted areas. It passes.
BILL NO. BL2015-1274 approves the Cayce Place Redevelopment Plan. Casey Homes is one of the cities oldest and worst public housing projects, just off of Shelby Avenue. This plan would demolish that housing and replace it with a mixed income housing development. As explained above, this would make TIF available for this development. It passes.
BILL NO. BL2015-1167 by Councilman Scott Davis changes from SP to RS5 zoning on about 238 acres. “Specific Plan District,” generally known as “SP,” zoning refers to a type of base zoning district which is not subject to traditional zoning districts’ development standards. Under an SP zoning, design standards are established for that specific development and are written into the zone change ordinance. RS5 is a medium density residential zone requiring a minimum 5,000 square foot lot and intended for single-family dwellings, prohibiting duplexes. This is deferred to the August 4th meeting.
BILL NO. BL2015-1168 on public hearing also by Councilman Scott Davis effects about 636 acres and would change the current zoning by making applicable the provisions of the DADU overlay. DADU allows for accessory dwelling units, such as garage apartments, on a property and provides a way to create affordable housing options while also maintaining the character of the existing street-facing homes. It is also deferred to the August 4th meeting.
Resolutions on the consent agenda pass. Included are these:
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1573 appropriates $2,150,000 from four percent account of the General Fund to fund 30 different non-profit organizations. To receive funding a non-profit had to apply and their application was scored. Most to the funds go to fund after school programs that serve disadvantaged children but also lots of other causes get funding such as Second Harvest, Fifty Forward, and ARC. There is no funding for the liberal political advocacy "charities" such as the Neighborhood Resource Center or any organization of that kind and there is no funding for Planned Parenthood. I assume the process of selecting which charities get the money is a fair process and see no reason to oppose this appropriations. It passes.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1575 is a tax giveaway to benefit HCA. See the staff analysis for the mechanics on how this works. It passes.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1572 appropriates $1.86 million from the undesignated fund balance to fund some items not included in the recently passed annual operating budget. This is unusual. Somebody screwed up and left this money out of the budget. The bulk of it is to fund pay plan improvements, but $375K is an additional subsidy for the show Nashville. It passes on a voice vote.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1574 gives $875,000 to subsidize season 4 of the TV show Nashville. This is in addition to $340,000 from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation and $335,000 from the Events and Marketing Fund and the $375,000 included in Resolution RS2015-1572 above. It overwhelming passes by a show of hands.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1498 by
Charlie Tygard request the Metropolitan Civil Service Commission to
consider and recommend an amendment to the General Pay Plan to
partially base the compensation of Members of the Metropolitan Council
upon Council and committee meeting attendance.
Recently, Channel 5 did an investigative piece and revealed that some Council members almost never attend committee meetings. As Tygard said, "It's not fair for certain council members to do all of the homework and others to get the same rate of pay and do nothing of the work.”
With a large council, the council must have a strong committee system. It is in committee where the real work of the Council is done. It is in committee where the council can ask hard questions and get answers. There is no way a council member can know all there is to know about the bills on the agenda. Some of the Councilmen said they had regular jobs and could not take off work to attend committee meetings. In my view, if a council member does not have flexibility in his job to attend to his council duties, he should not run for council. If he cannot attend Council committee meetings he should resign from the council. The worst offenders were Emily Evans, who missed 83 committee meetings since 2013, Robert Duvall, who's missed 93 committee meetings in that time period, and Sean McGuire, who's missed 132 committee meetings since 2013! Among the top twelve members with the worst attendance records was Council member-at-large and Mayoral candidate Megan Barry. This resolution was on the agenda for two meetings and was deferred both times and is now back on the agenda. To see the discussion see time stamp 2:55:30. It failed by a vote of 6 against defeat of the bill-25 for defeat with 2 abstentions on a roll call. When available, I will post how members voted.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1515 as amended by Charlie Tygard requests the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to require full-time Davidson County elected officials to submit an annual report to the Metro Clerk detailing the dates they worked. A recent report in The Tennessean revealed that many elected officials often do not work. This was discovered by an examination of when they used there swipe card to gain access to their office. It passes on a roll call vote.
There are 26 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones I find interesting:
- BILL NO. BL2013-569 amends the zoning text as it relates to car sales lots, car washes, auto repair centers and maybe some others. It does a lot of things including dictating the type of fence or wall that is permitted in front of the establishment, to requiring at least 1,000 feet between car lots. This bill was disproved by the planning commission. It was first introduced in October 2013 and was deferred several times and then deferred indefinitely on March 4th 2014. It was placed back on the agenda on July 7th and then deferred to this meeting. While a lot of people think that when a bill is deferred indefinitely that means it is defeated, that is not the case. Months later when the interested parties have stopped paying attention a deferred bill can be resurrected and placed back on the agenda. It is deferred one meeting.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1212 would prohibit the sale of single cans or bottles of beer by off-sale permit holders located within 100 feet of a facility that provides food to homeless persons. I oppose this type of bureaucratic micro-management. This is deferred one meeting.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1277 as substituted says that if someone donates art work to Nashville, valued at over $5,000 or will have an installation cost or maintenance cost of over $5000, then it must be approved by the Council after having been approved by the Arts Commission. It passes on a voice vote.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1278 would allow the Council to grant a waiver from the distance requirements that apply to beer retailers.
Currently places selling beer must be a certain distance from churches,
schools, day care centers, parks and homes. The only time the Council
can grant a waiver from these requirements is if the establishment
already has a State liquor license. This would allow an applicant to
appeal for a waiver just as those establishments with liquor license
are now permitted to do. It passes.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1279 by Council member Blalock, says that if a place has a beer permit and a school moves within the 100 feet of the establishment with the beer license then the establishment does not lose its beer license. It is deferred.
- SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2015-1120 would expand where one may build secondary dwelling units. This would amend the zoning code to create a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU) Overlay District. I think this is a positive development and it is one way to increase density and increase the stock of affordable housing. While I oppose price fixing to increase affordable housing, I do think increasing the stock of affordable housing is a worthwhile goal. Also, if Nashville is to grow and avoid massive urban sprawl and if Nashville is going to ever have adequate mass transit, and if we are to afford the services we want and need, without massive tax increases, we need greater population density. Some, however, raise the issue of parking, road capacity, sewer capacity and maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods as reasons to oppose greater density. It is deferred.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1121 would permit "Artisan manufacturing" in a whole bunch of zoning districts that now permit manufacturing. It would allow people to live and work in these districts and sets standards such as parking requirements and screening requirement for loading docks when such would adjoin residential areas. I think this is a good bill. It is approved.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1129 would establish a Codes Offender School, much like we have a traffic violations school or a "John's School" for those arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. I don't feel strongly one way or the other. I am not sure codes violators would benefit from a codes school the same way a traffic violator or solicitors of prostitution benefits from school. Apparently the fee paid by the "student" would cover the cost of the program. It is approved.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1139 is the bill that advances housing price control known as "inclusionary zoning." This directs the Planning Department to create rules and regulation that implement "inclusionary zoning" and directs that such rules establish that 14% of the units in any new development or renovation of existing developments or conversion of existing rental developments to for-purchase units, be set aside as "affordable." It define "affordable," as affordable to someone making between 60% and 120% of the area median area income. The effect of this is that the cost all new developments would increase and development of new residential property would be slowed and prices of all new development would increase. Housing prices would increase for everyone else not eligible for a set-aside priced house to cover the subsidy to the set-aside homes. Obviously some people who can now afford new housing will not be able to do so. You cannot lower the price of some housing without raising the price of other housing. The final rules established by the Planning Commission would have to go back to the Council for approval. It is my understanding that State law would have to be changed before Metro could do this, however that is not certain. This is one of the worst bills ever considered by the Council! On second reading it passed by a vote of 27 to 11.
Councilman Tygard moves to amend the bill to establish a committee of stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commence and lenders and developers to work with the consultants over the next 180 days to help craft the proposal that will come back to the Council. Anthony Davis and Ronnie Stein speak against the amendment. The amendment fails on a roll call vote! Back on original bill Emily Evans urges caution on this bill and says it could have unintended consequences. Claiborne moves to defer one meeting. That motion fails on a roll call, then Councilman Clairborne attempts to suspend the rules to move to amend out the 14% set aside mandate in the bill. The effort to suspend the rules fails. The bill is then passed on a roll call vote.
Council members Phil Claiborne, Robert Duvall, Tony Tenpenny and Charlie Tygard were the lone "no" votes. I am disgusted that those council member who claim to be conservatives voted for this bill. To see the discussion see time stamp 3:49:32- 4:18:25.Here is The Tennessean's report on the meeting: Metro Council approves affordable housing bill.