Monday, July 18, 2016

(update) What's on the Council agenda July 19th. Bill to take property rights in Antioch and stop affordable housing development, back on the agenda.

BILL NO. L2016-219 that would strip property rights from a property owner in Antioch in order to stop the development of an affordable housing development is back on the agenda of the Tuesday July 19th Council meeting on Third Reading.

Two weeks ago at the July 5th meeting at the conclusion of the public hearing on the bill, Karen Johnson, the district council member, passing the bill on second reading and then moved to defer the bill indefinitely.  A bill deferred indefinitely can be brought back up but Council members have to be given a week's notice. I do not know that a bill deferred indefinitely cannot be placed on the very next agenda, but it is highly unusual. At the time of the July 5th meeting, she said she planed to bring it back and have it placed on the October 18th agenda.

In an article that appears in the Tennessean the next day following the July 5th meeting, Johnson said that while her proposed ordinance is considered still active, the indefinite deferral would prevent the developer from getting permits needed to begin construction on the project. I did not see the logic of her reasoning since the owner already has all of the rights he needed to proceed with his development.  Metro Planning Director Doug Sloan apparently also did not see Johnson's logic and told The Tennessean that because the owner's  rights are vested, the developer should be able to move forward with getting permits approved. I would have to assume Council member Johnson realized she was mistaken in thinking that by simply proposing to take away a person's property rights that that would in fact take away their property rights.  I would assume that is why the bill is back on the agenda at this time.  This is a bill that is disapproved by the Planning Commission bill and will take a 2/3rd positive vote of the Council to pass.

While we now have the most liberal council in Nashville's history, I suspect that even this liberal Council is not prepared to trample private property rights to this extend.  If not motivated by a respect for private property rights, they may be concerned by the threat of The Tennessee Development and Housing Agency (THDA) that if this passes, the agency will withhold future tax credits from Davidson County. Tax credits are one of the major means of financing affordable housing.  Tax credits have been awarded for this development and if Metro kills the project, it will be too late to award those credits to some other project. They will have been wasted. Tax credits are limited and not easy to come by.

If unconcerned about trampling of private property rights or loss of tax credits for affordable housing development in Davidson County, some council members may be concerned about sitting the city up to be sued in a law suit the city is bound to lose. To learn more about the issue and view the discussion of the bill at last council meeting follow this link. The discussion is at  timestamp 16:47- 1:00:45 in the video.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, July 19th at 6:30 PM.   Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you don't have to. I will post a video of the council meeting and point out the interesting parts. If you are going to watch a council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis or you won't even have a clue about what is going on.  Unfortunately the staff analysis is not yet posted so, I am providing my commentary without benefit of it. I will update when it is available. At 7PM on Monday July 18th the staff analysis is still not posted. If you want to check for yourself and see if the staff analysis is available follow this link. Most likely I will not have an opportunity to update this post again prior to the Council meeting.

Resolutions. There are 30 resolutions on the agenda, all on the Consent Agenda at this time. Most of them are routine things such as approving acceptance of grants or approving allowing signs to overhang the public sidewalk. If a resolution has any negative votes in committee it is taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded. All items on consent are passed by a single vote instead of being voted on individually. Below are the Resolutions of interest.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-307  appropriates $17.4 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments of The Metropolitan Government.  This is normal. That is how the city pays for building maintenance and purchasing equipment.  Some equipment that will last a long time may be funded through  the normal budgeting process but equipment that will wear out in a few years is normally paid for from this fund.  4% of the cities revenues are set aside for this reserve fund. This is where the Council needs to be vigilant and make sure that Departments are not abusing this fund.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-308   appropriates $2.15 million from four accounts of the General Fund  to various nonprofit organizations selected to receive community enhancement grant funds. This grants are for such things as after school programs, domestic violence programs and literacy programs. A whole bunch of local non-profits get a piece. To see a list of all of the agencies getting some of these funds and how much they are getting, follow the link above.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-317  request the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment to work with the Metropolitan Council’s Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to address the issue of housing affordability in Nashville and Davidson County. This is a harmless resolution.  Since this was placed on the agenda, the mayor has proposed a new plan for affordable housing that is based on grants and is not punitive nor does it place mandates on developers. There are also a couple other bills pending that also address affordable housing. One is similar in intent to what the mayor has proposed and one is a bill that is considerably worse.
Bills on First Reading. There are 14 bills on First Reading but I usually don't review bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not evaluated by committee until they are on Second Reading. All bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote.

Bills on Second Reading. There are ll bills on Second Reading. None of them are of particular interest.

Bills on Third Reading. There are 39  bills on Third Reading. Most of them are boring zoning bills. In addition to BILL NO. L2016-219 discussed at the top of this post, these are the bills of interest:
BILL NO. BL2016-240 establishes new rules and fees for developers who close streets or sidewalks during construction. This is more complex than it sounds.This would attempt to fix what is a real problem.This was on Third reading last council meeting and deferred one meeting.
BILL NO. BL2016-297  is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. It is a downzoning, without the property owners consent of 19 acres, essentially a "taking" of property. It is opposed by the Chamber and various other pro private property rights groups. 
BILL NO. BL2016-298 in Scott Davis's district would rezone 46 acres consisting of a bunch of properties from various current zonings to RM40-A which is a high density residential zoning allowing 40 units per acre. I do not know if this has the support of the property owners or not. This bill needs scrutiny to make sure it is not a taking of property rights.

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