Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Final update: The 11-3-15 Council meeting: Effort to stop Old Hickory rock quarry advances, Industrial Dev. Bd. elected.

At 3 hours and 15 minutes this is a long council meeting. Council meetings are a lot more interesting if you know what's going  on. For a link to the agenda, staff agenda analysis and my commentary follow this link.

The meeting opens with a prayer offered by Council member Erica Gilmore. The first meeting of the new council opened with a moment of silence in place of a prayer and the second meeting had someone singing a sacred song in place of a traditional prayer.  Also, Vice Mayor Briley has written an article in the Tennessean  titled Use invocations to celebrate beliefs, not divide people. In that article  he said  the courts have placed limits on prayer before legislative meetings and said that in the next four years the prerogative as to manner of invocation at each meeting would rotate from one council member to another but hoped they would be mindful of the ruling of the Supreme Court. So, I was wondering what would happen at the third meeting of the new Council. I am wondering if prayers have to be submitted in advance for approval.  It looks like we will still have an opening prayer in the Metro Council. I still wonder however, if someone would be called out of order it they ended their prayer with the words, "in Jesus name, Amen."

Following the prayer was the Pledge of Allegiance. So far, the Pledge of Allegiance does not appear controversial in Nashville and I have heard of no move to discontinue the practice as has occurred at other progressive places around the country.

I am only going to call attention to the most important items on the agenda. I may miss something that interest readers, so you may want to read the agenda for yourself.

All mayoral appointments to boards and commissions are approved unanimously.

The process of electing members of the Industrial Development Board begins at time stamp 9:13 and ends at time  56:00. This is something that the general public could care less about, but moneyed people sitting on boards of  large corporations, bankers, developers, and movers and shakers may care.There were originally 13 people nominated for the four positions but two of them withdrew their name from consideration.  For those who may want to see for whom each council member voted, watch the video or check the minutes of the meeting at this link. The winners are:

  • Former Councilman Chris Harmon, nominated by Councilman Elrod.
  • Former Bridgestone Americas Executive Vice President Ken Weaver, nominated by Councilman Larry Hagar.
  • Nigel Hodge nominated by Councilman Karen Johnson
  • Cristina Allen nominated by Councilman Pulley
Public Hearing: I do not event attempt to understand the pros and cons of every rezoning bill so if there is a particular bill you care about, watch the meeting. This is the item that 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.  The chamber is full of people in favor of the bills. The public hearings on the two bills start at time stamp 1:02:00 and end at 2:15:10 Representative Bill Beck is the first person to speak in favor of the bills. He makes the argument that the developer is not "vested." Attorney Tom White who often represents developers at public hearings speaks against the bill at time stamp 1:31:13 and makes the argument that is client is vested. Councilman Hagar makes a plea that the Council pass the bill. The Council staff attorney in response to a question from Councilman Coleman asking if the developer is vested, says the council should not base their decision on that question and that this bill would have general application to all future rock quarries and that the question of the vested rights of the developer would be a question for the courts to decide if the bill is passed. Both bills pass. 
 All Resolutions on the consent agenda pass. There is a late resolution to accept a grant from the Justice Department to fund a Civil Legal Advocacy program. There is opposition to item number 48 in the grant.  Apparently this item was accidentally included in the grant by the Justice Department and due to some technicality the Justice Department cannot remove that item until after the grant is accepted by the cities. Councilman Glover questions the process and wisdom of passing the resolution with a promise that, that item will be removed. "Condition 48" is some sort of audit that would be required. I know I would not trust the Obama Justice Department. Any single council member could keep the resolution from being adopted but no one objects and the resolution passes. The Council apparently is not completely relying on the good faith of the Justice Department and could amend out this item themselves if the Justice Department fails to do so. Also, if the Justice Department does not remove the condition 48, they would apparently have to provide another $400,000 to metro, so approving this is not totally dependent upon trusting the Justice Department. It is good that this concern got expressed at this meeting. At least the Council's concern is on record.

Bills on Introduction and First Reading pass as is customary.

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. It is deferred until March 15th. 
All Bills on Third Reading pass and none of them are of much consequence. 

Below are news reports on this council meeting.

From the TennesseanBuffer bills aimed at Old Hickory quarry advance. 

Metro Council Advances Quarry Restrictions, But Old Hickory Company Says Bill Doesn’t Apply

Nashville Public Radio - The Metro Council moved a step closer Tuesday to restricting quarries and concrete plants across Davidson County. But, in a twist, it appears that the proposed quarry in Old Hickory that triggered concerns could be exempt from the limitation.

After waiting months to speak out, dozens of residents packed the council meeting to decry the quarry that’s trying to open near their homes, a popular public beach and an aging Army Corps of Engineers dam.(link)

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