Sunday, July 8, 2018

What happened at the July 3rd Council meeting: Effort to stop fairground giveaway fails, Scooter regs, new floodway buffer, new dog regs advance.

Here is the video of the Council meeting of July 3rd.. I almost always watch the Council meetings but did not watch this one. The actions reported below are what is reported in the Council minutes of the meeting.

To see my commentary on the agenda and a link to the agenda and the Council staff analysis follow this link.

Absent members: Any member may have an occasional reason to miss a council meeting, but this meeting had six absent members.That is a lot. I guess the day before July 4th is not a good day to have a meeting. The absent members were Absent: Hastings, Scott Davis, Anthony Davis, Pardue, Roberts and Henderson.

All appointees to Boards and Commission were approved.

Bills on Public Hearing:

Bill BL2018-1182 is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. It would rezone from R10 to OL property located at 355 Bell Road. R-10 is a residential zoning; OL is a office zoning intended for moderate intensity office uses. This looks like a spot zoning. This passed on Second Reading by a voice vote.

 Bill BL2018-1197  approves a waste processing facility at 4648 Ashland City Highway. All landfills or waste processing facilities have to be approved by the Council and they often generate neighborhood hostility. This facility would be an  anaerobic digestion facility which processes food waste. This passed on Second Reading by a voice vote.
Resolution RS2018-1244  would require the city to fly the Metropolitan Government flags at half-staff for a period of one year in honor and memory of students killed as a result of gun violence and as a reminder of the urgency of gun violence solutions. This would not be one year from the date of any future shootings, but one year from the effective date of the passage of the ordinance. I don't like this resolution.  The flag should not be flying at half-staff all the time.  What if we had a local occurrence of something, such as death of a local dignitary that warranted a show of respect and honor?  If the flags were already at half staff, we could not use the flag to honor that person. This was deferred indefinitely. It could be brought back up but usually that means the resolution is dead.

Resolution RS2018-1253 would extend the maturity date a bill that is coming due.
It extends the duration of the water and sewer extendable commercial paper program. This would result in more fees and a higher interest rate. This seems like poor money management to me. It looks like Metro has been so mismanaged that we are like a family that is juggling bills and flipping credit card debts from one card to another to weather a crisis.  Maybe this is a wise thing to do at this time, I don't know, but it appears we keep kicking the debt down the road.  This was approved on the consent agenda.
Bills on Second Reading: Below are the ones of interest.

Substitute Bill BL2018-1157  establishes a 50 foot floodway buffer along the Cumberland River and prohibits variances. The floodway is the river channel and adjacent low lying areas that would be underwater in a 100 year flood. This bill would establish that no new construction could occur within an area that is within 50 feet of the floodway and in this buffer no existing building could be expanded.  
If a building site was on a 50 foot tall bluff but within 50 feet of the floodway, as I read this bill, one could not build on top of that bluff. Also as I read this bill, this would not allow "displacement" to justify a variance. 

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 on a lot and near the front of the property the lot is build up by adding so many cubic yards of dirt, then the same amount of earth would have to be removed elsewhere from that parcel. This neutralizes any impact the development would have on flooding. 

I understand what the sponsor is trying to do, but rather than a buffer 50 feet from the floodway, it appears a better approach would be elevation above the floodway.  In reality, a house within in a 50 foot floodway buffer but on a bluff may have less impact on the potential to contribute to flooding than a house ten miles away that is only a little higher in elevation than the floodway. Addressing elevation above the floodway seems to be a more rational approach than measuring distance from the flood way.  

Also, for years there has been talk and proposals of building a river-oriented development in Nashville with homes on canals with homesites having private boat docs.  I am sure such could be done without contributing to flooding but this bill would  preclude that possibility.

This bill is trying to address a real need.  The Storm Water Management Committee has been granting variances to build in flood prone areas simply based on hardship (link).  That needs to stop, but I think this is the wrong approach. This passed on second reading on a voice vote.
Bill BL2018-1189  would require Metro to make an even greater effort to make sure some Metro business goes to minority contractors when Metro has projects to put out for bid. The staff analysis says Metro legal has expressed concern that the bill may contain unconstitutional race and gender based preferences and is inconsistent with the current framework of the Procurement Non-Discrimination Program. Last meeting this was on Second Reading and deferred to this meeting. This was deferred indefinitely.
Bill BL2018-1190   would give free parking at public parking meters in Davidson County for environmentally friendly vehicles and for vehicle owners that purchase carbon offsets. I oppose this. If we are going to give anyone free parking, I would prefer to give it to low-income people who were forced to spend money bringing their car into auto emission standards compliance rather than wealthier people who can afford an environmentally friendly car. Also, carbon offsets are a often a scam. This passed on a voice vote.

Bill BL2018-1200 would require that if hotels or roominghouses accept cash payment, they must also accept at least one other form of payment such as check or credit cards. I seldom carry cash and would find it inconvenient if I tried to do business with an entity that was cash-only, but why not let the market work this out?  Why must the government try to micromanage every aspect of commerce and our lives? This was on second last time and deferred to this meeting. This passed on a voice vote.
Bill BL2018-1201  would tighten animal control regulations. Now, you are not supposed to leave your pooch out if the heat index will be above 95 degree. This lowers it to 85. Animal Control says to enforce this will take more people, space, and equipment and cost $472,617. $472,617 hear and $472,617 there and soon you are talking about real money. This was on the agenda last time and deferred to this meeting. This passed on a voice vote.

Substitute Bill BL2018-1202 proposed new rules for scooter prompted by the
arrival of Bird Scooter here in Nashville. It would require new fees including a fee of $35 per scooter.  This does a lot, but if Bird can live with it and is not fighting it, then I would assume it is an OK bill. Bird and similar scooter companies are in lots of other cities. I hope we are not over regulating them. Something like Bird can be an important part of making our city more mobile and can take cars off the road. Some cities have welcomed scooters and merchants have  installed scooter racks. This passed on a voice vote.

Bill BL2018-1203  also deals with scooters, in-line skates, and roller skates by removing the requirement for wrist guards, elbow pads, and kneepads and updating audio device references. It redefines the word "scooter" to mean non-motorized scooters, so this section would not apply to the electric Bird scooters.They would be regulated by the regulations contained in 1202 above. This was amended and deferred one meeting by a voice vote.

Bill BL2018-1205 is an effort to stop the fairgrounds giveaway.  It wold ban the sale, lease, transfer or conveyance of property adjacent to the proposed Major League Soccer stadium to any third party for purposes of private development. I support this. We should not be giving away land to private developers and we ought to save the fairgrounds for an improved fairground facility not shrinking the site. This was deferred indefinitely which usually means it is dead.
Bills on Third Reading: There are 21 bills on third and final reading. None are very important or of interest. Most are zoning bills approved by the Planning Commission. 
Bill BL2018-1099  is a disapproved zoning bill in Scot Davis' district. This bill was deferred "by rule."

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