Saturday, April 28, 2018

What's on the 5-1-18 agenda: Keeping Auto Emission testing, trying to move the Soccer stadium, taking property along the river. attempt to regulate Airbnb type websites, pet stores could only sell pound pups.

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, May1, 2018 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  or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

The order of business is the call to order, prayer and pledge. The next order of business on this agenda is a proposed amendment to Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure of the Metropolitan Council. Rule three concerns the standing committees of the Council.  I do not know what is proposed. The agenda does not say. It is probably nothing very important.  The next order of business is consideration of mayoral appointments to boards and commissions. There are nine mayoral appointments to boards and commissions on this agenda for Council confirmations. These are all reappointments. The council normally rubber stamps whomever the mayor appoints. 

Public Hearing
There is one resolution and 14 Bills on Public Hearing. I do not even attempt to understand the pros and cons of every zoning bill and they generally bore me and are of interest to only the people in the immediate vicinity of the rezoning. At public hearings almost all opposition come down to (1) concern about traffic, (2) water runoff and potential for flooding, (3) overcrowding of local schools and impact on infrastructure, (4) detrimentally changing the character of the neighborhood. You will hear the same arguments over and over. I only call attention to bills that I think will have an impact beyond the immediate neighborhood or are bills disapproved by the Planning Commission or  for some other reason are of interest. Here is the only one of interest.

Bill BL2018-1157  establishes a 50 foot floodway buffer along the Cumberland River and
A House on a cliff on the Tennessee River
prohibits variances.
The floodway is the river channel and adjacent low lying areas that would be underwater in a 100 year flood. No new construction could occur in this area and no existing building could be expanded. My initial reactions is opposition. Suppose within the fifty foot buffer, the property sit on a high cliff a hundred foot drop to the river. Should that property not be allowed to be developed?  That property could have less impact on the river than a property miles away.  Also, building in the area adjacent to a 100 year floodway does not add to the potential for flooding if displacement is applied. Displacement means that if any capacity for the land to hold water is decreased on one part of a parcel, then more capacity must be added elsewhere. As an example, if a home is build and near the front of the property, the lot is build up by adding so many cubic yards of dirt to a low area, then the same amount of earth would have to be removed elsewhere.
This would also appear to be a  "taking" property. If someone has a right to develop their property and that right is taken from them,  that is a "taking" even if the owner retains legal title. If property is taken the owner should be compensated and it should only be taken for a public purpose. The public purpose may be to reduce flood risk. That may be a valid public purpose, but the owner should be compensated if his land is now worth less because it cannot be developed. Also, there is a proposed development of a boat-oriented development along the Cumberland with canals and boat docks. This type of development could not occur if this rule was in place and if there were no variances permitted. 
There are 26 resolution on the agenda and all are on the consent agenda at this time. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes unanimously the committees to which it is assigned. Resolutions which receive negative votes in committee are pulled off of consent. Also any councilman may have a resolution pulled off of consent. Those remaining on consent are lumped together and passed by a single vote. 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. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. Here are the resolutions of interest: 
Resolution RS2018-1158  is and an attempt to decouple the development of a soccer stadium from the location of the Fairgrounds. This resolution authorizes the city to issue bonds for construction of the major league soccer stadium but does not specify the location. There is an effort which I approve of to have the soccer stadium build in Metro Center instead of the Fairgrounds.  The staff analysis says there are several things wrong with this resolution.  If you want to know what they are click here. I would assume this resolution will have to be substituted or deferred to correct the deficiencies, but don't know that.  The owners of the soccer franchise say that building the stadium anywhere other than the fairgrounds would jeopardize the soccer deal. 

Resolution RS2018-1165   is even more money for the Metro General Hospital money pit. It is half a million from the 4% fund for equipment and building repairs. A half million here and a half million there and pretty soon you are talking about real money. 

Resolution RS2018-1171  would continue the auto emissions testing program in Nashville even though the State says we may discontinue it. This needs to be defeated.

Resolution RS2018-1180  proposes three amendments to the Metro Charter, all related to the procedure for succession when a mayor leaves office prior to the end of his term. I think what occurred when Mayor Barry was forced to resign worked pretty smoothly and do not see the need for revising the charter, however it is no big deal. It will take 27 votes of the Council for this to pass and then the proposed changes would be decided in a referendum. If I had a vote I would vote "no" but might be persuadable.

Resolution RS2018-1182  honors "James Shaw, Jr. whose heroism, prompt action, and selfless disregard for his own safety spared numerous lives" in the Antioch Waffle House shooting.
Bills on First reading: There are 13 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. They are all lumped together and pass by a single vote except in rare circumstances. This is one of those rare occasions which if I had a vote I would vote against a bill on First Reading. The bill is Bill BL2018-1173  by Councilman Davette Blalock which would ban the sue of plastic grocery bags.

Bills on Second Reading: There are eleven. Here are the ones of interest:  
Bill BL2018-1056 would regulate the on-line market for Short term rentals, that is it
would regulate websites such as Airbnb.   It would require these sites to  require a Metro permit number for each STRP application prior to placing the property on the online marketplace site. It would also require the sites to provide a detailed quarterly reports to Metro. I would oppose this if I served in the Council. The development of the quarterly report could require new computer programs or lots of man-hours for the sites. While the staff analysis does not address the issue, I would like to know by what authority Metro had to require this of a company that is not physically located in Nashville and is simply a go between facilitating the interaction of people who want to provide a place to stay and people seeking a place to stay.  What if Metro required Airbnb to have agents who were locally licensed real estate agent? Could Metro do that?  If Airbnb simply ignores this law, what can the city do about it? How would they enforce it? The Internet does not stop at the county line. Could Metro ban gambling sites or porn sites from doing business in Nashville?  Could they ban advertising of wine for sale online?  Also, as noted in the staff analysis, Tennessee General Assembly has very recently enacted legislation that impacts the ability of local governments to regulate short-term rental properties. I don't know if that would apply since this is an attempt to regulate the websites not the properties, but it might. This bill needs to be defeated. 

Bill BL2018-1159 would prohibit pet stores form selling any cats or dogs except those obtained from the pound or other such animal rescue organizations. What! Have we gone nuts! Not everyone wants a pound pup. Some people want pure bred dogs. Bad bill. 
Bills on Third Reading: There are six. None of them are of much interest. Bill BL2018-1111 (as amended)  would put under the purview of the Board of Ethical Conduct and the Standards of Conduct those who violate executive orders regarding rules of conduct. This was controversial when introduced but as amended, according to the staff analysis, this really doesn't do much. 

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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