Monday, November 2, 2015

What's on the Nov. 2nd Council agenda? Stopping the Old Hickory Dam rock quarry and banning The Contributor street sales.

The Metro Council will meet in regular session at 6:30 PM on Tuesday November 3rd. Council meetings are important but can really be boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on.  If you follow the meeting with an agenda and the staff analysis, while they may still be boring they are not quite as boring. I try to report on each agenda as to what I think is important, but sometimes I miss things and I don't even attempt to stay informed about all of the rezoning issues before the Council, so I encourage you to review the agenda and analysis for yourself. Follow the highlighted links for your own copy.

The first items on the agenda are elections and confirmations. While we owe those who are willing to serve on Metro's numerous boards and commissions a debt of gratitude, the council should take its roll of confirmation seriously. I hope the new council will do better than the old council in evaluating mayoral appointments. If appointees are going to pursue policies a council member may not like, that member should vote against that nominee. Also the council should expect a geographical balance and some diversity on the boards and commissions. There are nine mayoral appointees to boards and commission on the agenda for confirmation.

The council will also be electing members to the Industrial Development Board. This Board controls a lot of money. It develops property then leases it to businesses. This is one of three ways the Council bribes companies to locate in Nashville by giving sweetheart deals to favored companies. Another way of looking at it is that this is a tool to encourage companies to locate in Nashville.  Since the property remains the property of Metro Government and thus exempt from property taxes, companies awarded these deals do not have to pay property taxes but instead pay "payment in lieu of taxes" or PILOT, which is often much less than they would pay in taxes. Last council meeting, council members nominated people to serve on this board. The council will elect four members for positions on the Board from the 13 nominees. Here are the list of nominees and the Council members who nominated them:

  • Ms. Karen Johnson nominated Mr. Nigel Hodge
  • Ms. Hurt nominated Ms. Saletta Holloway
  • Mr. Pulley nominated Ms. Cristina Allen; 
  • Mr. Pridemore nominated Mr. Howard Wedekind; 
  • Mr. Rosenberg nominated Mr. Jeff Wilson
  • Mr. Syracuse nominated Ms. Lara Tucker; 
  • Mr. Hagar nominated Mr. Kenneth Weaver
  • Mr. Elrod nominated Mr. Chris Harmon
  • Ms. VanReece nominated Mr. Jeff Weems; 
  • Mr. Withers nominated Mr. Clay Haynes
  • Ms. Murphy nominated Mr. Brad Pickett; 
  • Mr. Shulman nominated Ms. Erin Coleman; on behalf of Mr. Scott Davis, 
  • Ms. Hurt nominated Mr. Eddie Gray III.
Public hearing
There is one resolution and  19 bills on public hearing. The resolution is to allow an entity that already has a liquor license an exemption from the distance requirement necessary to get a beer license. Metro requires that establishments seeking a beer permit be a certain distance from churches, day care center, parks and residences.  Metro awards beer permits; the state awards liquor licenses. In my view, this hearing is a waste of time. If an establishment already has a liquor license, I see no reason to deny it a beer permit and I think the establishment should automatically be exempt from the beer permit distance requirements, but that is not the way it is.

Most of the bills on public hearing are rezoning issues. Most rezoning concerns only nearby neighbors and I do not even attempt to stay informed about all of the rezoning issues. Here are the ones I find of interest:
  • BILL NO. BL2015-13 and BILL NO. BL2015-14  are attempts to stop the development of a rock quarry very near Old Hickory dam. No one wants a rock quarry in their neighborhood, but in this case there is fear that the blasting at the rock quarry could weaken the dam which, if it caused a failure of the dam, could cause massive flooding of Nashville. For more on this issue follow this link.  I am normally a strong advocate of private property rights and the developer may already be "vested" in the right to build the quarry.  However, in this case I would err on the side of safety and join those trying to stop this development.
Resolutions: There are 14 resolutions all on the consent agenda. A bill is put on consent if it is deemed non controversial and stays on consent if it passes the committee to which it was assigned unanimously.  However, any member may ask to be recorded as abstaining or voting "no" or he may ask to have the bill taken off of consent. None of the resolutions are of much interest or are controversial.

Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and voted on without being considered individually.  First reading is just a formality and unless something is absolutely atrocious, no one ever votes against anything on first reading. I don't pay attention to bills on First Reading and wait until second reading to read them.

Bills on Second Reading: 
  • BILL NO. BL2015-32  is a bill that would ban vendors from selling newspapers and magazines in the street. This bill is sponsored by Councilman Glover. It would prohibit the homeless from selling The Contributor to occupants of vehicles who are in a lane of traffic. I approve of  The Contributor and the way they operate. It has helped many homeless be able to afford rent instead of living under a bridge. It is a good way for the public to help the less fortunate. I have on occasion seen what I thought was a dangerous situation or have been annoyed by waiting for someone to complete a transaction when the light changes but I would not support this bill.
Bills on Third Reading: None of them are of much interest.

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