Update #3: There is another zoning bill that will be controversial. See "BILL NO. BL2015-81" below.
The Metro Council agenda for January 5th is available at this link and the staff analysis at this link. Since the last update, the staff analysis has been published and I have reviewed it and updated this post to reflect anything of significance gleamed from that information. If you watch the council meetings and you don't have an agenda and an analysis, it is really hard to know what is going on and the council meetings will seem really boring, so if you are going to watch the meeting I suggest you get your own copy of those documents. The meetings will still be boring, but you will know what it is that is boring you. For you own copy, follow the above highlighted links.
There are three mayoral appointees to Board and Commissions up for council confirmation. None of these are to the commission that are the subject of controversy.
There are 22 bills on public hearing on Second Reading. I, for the most part, don't really care much about zoning issues unless it is a proposed rezoning in my neighborhood and I don't study zoning issues unless something has impact beyond one little neighborhood. I don't even try to be knowledgeable of all of the rezoning bills, so you are on your own. Zoning can have a tremendous impact on one's quality of life and financial standing, so zoning is very important, but the impact is often limited to just a few people. Most council members will work with their constituents to let them know of any significant rezoning proposals and hold neighborhood meetings if a rezoning is significant or likely to be controversial. Also, the property to be rezoned must post signs stating it is slated to be rezoned and advertise the date of the pubic hearing. An active neighborhood organization can be important in keeping neighbors abreast of zoning and land use developments. If you have a neighborhood organization where you live, I suggest you join it. If not, I would suggest you start one. Also, get to know your councilman so he will be sure to communicate to your neighborhood any proposed significant rezoning.
The bills on public hearing on second reading, that I find of interest are these:
- BILL NO. BL2015-81 rezones 9.2 acres off on Clarksville pike which if approved would allow the construction of between 72 to 120 apartment units of what is considered "workforce housing" which is another term for affordable housing. The planning Commission unanimously voted to disapprove this bill and there is a lot of neighborhood opposition. Here is a link to a Tennessean story about the issue.
- BILL NO. BL2015-84 establishes the Waverly Belmont Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District. This is significant because if covers such a large area and so many parcels. A conservation overlay is less restrictive than a historical overlay but is a planning tool to protect the architectural character of Nashville’s historic neighborhoods by managing growth and change. It is a type of ‘overlay zoning’ that is applied in addition to the ‘base’ land use zoning of an area. It makes it more difficult to demolish an existing home and insures additions are in character to the neighborhood. This bill does not give the details.
- BILL NO. BL2015-85 adds eight acres to an already existing Contextual Overlay District. A Contextual Overlay District is a zoning tool that can be applied to residential neighborhoods. The Contextual Overlay applies design standards necessary to maintain and reinforce established form or character of residential development in a particular area. A Contextual Overlay must apply throughout the residential portion of a complete block face. This is for an area along Pinewood Road, west of Stratford Avenue.
There are eight resolutions, all of which are on the Consent Agenda. While a bill requires three readings to become law, a resolution only requires one vote. Resolutions include things like accepting grants, and spending money out of funds already approved, and other minor things. Bills are laws or are changes in zoning. All of the resolutions are at this time on the consent agenda. Resolutions are placed on consent if the Vice Mayor deems them non-controversial and they stay on consent if they pass the committee to which they are assigned unanimously. Resolutions on consent are all lumped together and pass by a single vote of the Council. However, any member of the Council may, from the floor, ask for a bill to be considered individually or may ask to have his dissenting vote or abstention recorded. This are the only resolutions I find of interest:
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-77 accepts a grant of $100,000 from the Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park to hire one employee. Metro must pay the fringe benefits which come to $35,460. While it is not wise to look a gift horse in the mouth, that is one expensive employee. I hope the Council is curious as to this person's qualification and job description. What will they be doing? Will this position be advertised and will filling this position be competitive or is the person to fill this position already chosen? I also find it informative that fringe benefits equal more than a third of an employee's salary. I wonder what that ratio is in the private sector?
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-85, "A resolution requesting the Nashville Farmers Market to provide a comprehensive report to the Metropolitan Council regarding its current financial status and its capital and operational needs to guarantee future success." I am pleased to see this. The Farmers Market has been losing money for years. It is not structured to provide a market to help farmers sell to retailers such as super markets and restaurants but is designed for farmers selling retail to consumers. Think of it as boutique farmers market not a real farmers market. Recently the Farmers Market restricted the sale of produce to only locally grown products so the consumer may buy their watermelons and tomatoes at the Farmers Market but they can't buy their bananas and oranges. Also, the Farmers Market stopped the sale of the velvet Elvis vendors and vendors of twelve socks for twelve dollars and restricted the flea market operation to the sale of locally produced artisan stuff such as soy candles and handicrafts. The Council needs to keep close taps on how much money the Farmers Market is losing. I was skeptical when the Farmers Market kicked out the food vendors who sold bananas and the flea market vendors who sold the velvet Elvis and socks, however with Nashville continuing to be the "it" city, perhaps the Farmers Market can be a success by being "authentic." We will see, but in any event the Council needs to keep close tabs.
There are only six Bills on Second Reading. These are two of interest:
- BILL NO. BL2015-94 amends the code pertaining to Short Term Rental Property. One change is that DADU's (Detached Accessory Dwelling Units) will now be subject to the 3% limit the same as non-owner occupied units. In any area (and I think it is my Council district but I am not sure, it may by census track or some other delineating measure) only 3% of the non-owner occupied properties may be approved for short-term rental and it is first-come, first-approved. I know someone who has spend a lot of money building a DADU "tiny house" for the purpose of renting it as a STRP. It has taken longer to build it than they anticipated and they may be screwed if this passes. These folks are a young couple who have risked a lot to build this house. They are not wealthy. Another provision prohibited advertising the short term rental as lodging for more people than is permitted by the permit for the property. That provision sounds reasonable to me. Another change would change the definition of "detached" so that if the rental unit is actually attached or separated by no more than 6 feet is is not considered detached for purposes of this ordinance and would not be subject to the 3% rule.
- BILL NO. BL2015-95 would restrict pedal taverns to certain areas and impose other restrictions.