Monday, November 6, 2017

What's on the Council agenda for Nov. 7, 2017: The $275 million soccer deal, slowing down the mayor's transit plan, a Transgender day of remembrance.

The most important item on the agenda is RESOLUTION RS2017-910 to authorize issuance of $275 million in bond sales to build a soccer stratum on the site of the fairgrounds. Despite some tweaks that improve the bill, it still includes giving 10 acres of prime property to the developer and the guarantees that the proposed team owners will be responsible for the bulk of the debt remains weak. Before the bonds could be issued the team must be awarded a major league soccer franchise and some other conditions must be met. One of the conditions that must be met is that the Council must approve demolition of some existing building on the fairground site which are to be replaced under this plan. For a more detailed analysis of the resolution follow this link and see the staff analysis and read the bill. The staff analysis runs several pages long. It should be noted that I am writing this on Sunday November 5 and more changes may be made to the resolution at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Monday November 6. As of this time, I remain opposed to this resolution.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the staff analysis at Fiscal Notes 11.7.17.pdf or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

There are three mayoral appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda for confirmation and as always they will be affirmed.

There are two resolution and 27 bills on Public hearing. The resolutions are unimportant and simply exempt  establishments from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit.The bills on public hearings are all rezoning bills or related to planning and zoning policy.

Rezoning hearings bore me and I don't even try to form an opinion on the merits each rezoning bill before the Council.  Rezoning bills usually are of interest only to people who live near the proposed rezoning. People who don't care one way or the other do not show up and with rare exceptions the only people who speak in favor of rezoning bills are those who will benefit from the rezoning such as the property owner or the developer.  Opponents always make the same argument which boils down to one of these: 1) the change will result in stressing the infrastructure such as too much traffic on the roadway or overcrowd the schools, 2) will cause flooding, and 3) will change for the worse the character of the community. If you are interested in knowing what is permitted in different zoning districts, follow this link. I call attention to only those bills on public hearing that for some reason I expect to be controversial or to bills which have been disapproved by the Planning Commission. A bill disapproved by the Planning Commission requires 27 votes to be approved on third and final reading and sometimes that can be difficult to obtain.  Some bills on public hearing have not yet been to the Planning Commission and some are approved contingent upon the sponsor making changes recommended by the Commission. Below are the bills on public hearing I find of interest.

BILL BL2017-903 would ban decorative "rope lighting" on any building, sign, or property with non-residential zoning located adjacent to an arterial or collector street except those in the downtown area. The sponsor tried to pass something similar back in August (BILL NO. BL2017-704) but that bill would have applied to residential property also. This bill is not as bad as that bill, but I still do not see the necessity of this and remain opposed. Rope lighting is that lighting that you have probably seen that outlines a tree or structure. It is often used as Christmas decorations but sometimes is used year-round. Why one would want to ban this I have no ideal. I like it. I oppose this bill.
BILL BL2017-937 is another bills that would address home-sharing or short term rental. It would establish a STRP Advisory Committee and it would allow existing permit holders to renew definitely, apply percentage caps to Not Owner-Occupied units within certain census tracts, and apply distance restrictions of 1,320 feet between Not Owner-Occupied units, among other changes. The Council has been working on the issue of short term rental property for a long time, at least a year. A comprehensive short term rental ordinance is in the works and is to be presented to the Council in January. This bill is do be deferred to December 5th.

BILL BL2017-938  would exempt religious institutions from current sidewalk requirements, provided the religious institution is within the General Services District and does not abut an existing or planned sidewalk. Currently if a developer does an infill development even on a street without sidewalks they must build sidewalk even if there are no other sidewalks on the street. This can greatly increase the cost of development and can result in less affordable housing. In my view the whole requirement that developers build sidewalks should be scraped except in rare circumstance. I support this bill but the whole issue should be addressed. 

There are 27 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes  unanimously the committees to which it was assigned. Since the committees have not met yet, some resolutions which are listed as on the consent agenda may not be on the consent agenda when the council meets. Resolutions on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government, entering into inter agency agreements over mundane things, appropriating money from the 4% fund, settling lawsuits, or approving signs overhanging the sidewalk. Resolutions on the consent agenda are lumped together and passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a resolution pulled off of the consent agenda or have their "no" vote or abstention recorded. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. there are several resolution on this agenda which would complete the purchase and removal of certain previously identified flood-damaged properties.Below are the resolutions of interest.
RESOLUTION RS2017-910  is the soccer stadium resolution addressed at the top of this page.

RESOLUTION RS2017-951 would accept a grant of $50K from the State to be matched by $50K from Metro to print new, larger recycling cart stickers and tags to increase curbside recycling and participation in Nashville. Unless I am missing something, this seems like a waste of money.

RESOLUTION RS2017-962  recognizing November 20, 2017 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. I am sorry that any transgender person or any other person has lost their life to violence but this is meaningless political correctness. However, if I were serving in the Council, I would probably let it slide since these memorializing resolution simply express the view of the council and are not official acts of the Metro Government. The handful of conservative council members should probably pick their battles and just let this pass.
Bills on First reading: There are 35 bills on first reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda and they are not considered by committee until after they pass first reading. I do not read them until they get to second reading. Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 9 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of interest.
BILL BL2017-939 would add additional obstacles to adopting the mayor's proposed transit plan. The state enabling legislation allowing for transit improvement known as the IMPROVE Act, provides that a  transit improvement program be adopted by ordinance or resolution by majority vote of the local government’s legislative body. This would specify that such a plan must must be approved by ordinance rather than a resolution. A resolution only requires one vote of the Council; a ordinance requires three votes. This is a good bill.

BILL BL2017-941 would establish a a Commercial Permit Parking Program. The council would have to approve the geographic areas in which this applied. In those areas commercial vehicles could only park on the street if they had a permit to do so.  As we grow, parking become more of a problem with people parking on streets taking parking places that deny those spaces to those who have businesses or residence on the street a place to park. These seems reasonable.
Bills on Third Reading. There are 9 bills on third reading. Most of them are zoning bills that have been approved by the Planning Commission. None of them are very interesting.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site and you can watch it live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

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