Monday, May 4, 2020

(update) What's on the Council agenda for May 5th: Face mask required, new short term rental rules, legalizing some home-based occupations.

by Rod Williams - The Council meeting will occur on Tuesday May 5th at 6:30pm. Again, most council members will participate electronically and will not actually be in the chamber.  This is the first Tuesday of a month which is pubic hearing night on zoning and related matters. Those wishing to address the Council on a zoning matter can do so by phone.  For detail on how that will work, follow this link.

Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council staff agenda analysis. Below I am providing a summary and some commentary on what I deem the most important items on the agenda. I am not attempting to form an opinion and understand all of the zoning bills. Most zoning bills only concern nearby neighbors. I am only calling attention to a bill on pubic hearing if it is disapproved by the Planning Commission, I think it is controversial, or it has a wider impact than a simple zone change.

Bills on Public Hearing.

Bill BL2019-7 would liberalized the policy regarding Short-term rentals. Currently if there are two family dwellings on a lot, only one STRP permit can be issued for the lot. This would allow two separate STRP permits to be issued, one for each dwelling, when the units are owned by different persons and each unit is the primary residence of the corresponding owner. No more than two permits could be issued per lot, and only one permit could be issued per dwelling unit. That sounds reasonable to me but I would expect some opposition. There are some people who want to abolish short-term rentals and will oppose any move that would allow an additional STRP unit.

Bill BL2019-8 concerns the sidewalk fund. Currently, money collected from the payment in lieu of sidewalks is collected into a pedestrian benefit fund. The funds are required to stay in the pedestrian benefit zone from where the payment was made. This ordinance would remove the pedestrian benefit zones and instead require funds to stay within the Council district of the new development. I don't have a strong opinion about this and don't think it really matters. Council members generally like more control of what happens in their districts and will most likely approve this.

Substitute BL2019-48 would liberalized the policy regarding home occupation. Currently if no

customers are served on the property and if no more than one employee not living at the home is employed by the business, and a few other requirements are met, one may get a permit to have a home business. Currently a permit is required for all home businesses There are probably thousands of people violating the ordinance. If you are writing the great American novel at your kitchen table or writing the next hit song in your den, you are suppose to have a permit. Under this bill a permit would not be required for a home occupation where no customers are served on the property.  Under this bill if one did serve clients on the property they could get a permit.  There could be no more than three vehicle trips per hour, with a maximum of six visits per day related to the business. Customer visits could only occur by scheduled appointment and between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Only certain occupations would be permitted, including personal instruction, general office, personal care services, multimedia production, and artisan manufacturing uses. The lady who offers neighborhood kids piano lessons could be permitted and do so legally if this passes. I strongly support this bill.

Bill BL2020-188 would require a paved drive ways for all residential property for the first ten feet from the edge of the road in.  The purpose of this is to keep gravel from washing into the road.  The effect of this will contribute to a loss of affordable housing.  I own one rental unit and get about five offers a week by phone, text, emails or cards wanting to buy the property.  If I sold it, it would be torn down and a tall-skinny would replace it. If I am forced to spend money and make improvements, I may just sell it.  Things like this have a cumulative effect leading  to a loss of affordable housing.

Substitute Bill BL2020-197 would declare a 120-day moratorium upon the issuance of building and grading permits for multi-family developments on property within portions of the Antioch area of Nashville & Davidson County. I oppose this.  If a developer is ready to build and must put plans on hold for three months that can cost a lot of money.  Combined with others things that can go wrong, that can kill a project.  I oppose this.


Resolution RS2020-202 is "a resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement by and between the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation, and The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, acting by and through the Metropolitan Department of Public Works, for signal maintenance for I-440 Traffic Operational Deployment of Blue Toad Spectra Power over Ethernet (PoE) Data Collection Devices, State No. 99111-4604-04; PIN 125652.00 (Proposal No. 2020M-004AG-001)."  This has been pending and deferred for months. This is the type thing that normally would pass easily, however there is an issue that I suspect, but don 't know, that may have made this controversial. Many neighbors of the expanded I-440 corridor have complained of lighting pollution. Some have said that prior to the expansion that they were not bothered by the I-440 lighting but now it shines in their house like a spotlight. Over 500 neighbors of I-440 have signed a petition complaining about the lighting. Normally the Council would have little leverage to influence the State to address these concerns. This may have been held up to exert influence on the State. This is just speculation. I don't know if neighbors bothered by the I-440 lights have had any relief or not. Apparently this data collection system works anonymously collecting Bluetooth signals from paired vehicles and it seems there are some concerns about privacy. That may be the reason this is being held up and may have nothing to do with trying to exert leverage to solve the unrelated lighting complaint.  This time it is on the consent agenda so what ever the concern was, it must have been resolved.

Bills on Second Reading

Bill BL2020-147 concerns lobbyist registration.  Anyone who is paid to influence Metro is supposed to register as a lobbyist. The current fee is $50. This would raise it to $100.  It would also identify a new class of lobbyist called "volunteer lobbyist" and requires them to  register.  That is people who do not get paid to lobby but get reimbursed for expenses only. I do not have a firm opinion on this bill but would urge the Council to carefully study the issue and make sure that we are not impeding the right of people to petition government for redress of grievances.

Bill BL2020-276 would establish an impact fee on development. An Impact fee is money paid by a developer at the time a development commences that is designed to offset the impact the development will have on government services and infrastructure.  This would apply to both business and residential.  I oppose this.  The staff analysis says we can't do this as it violates state law.

Bill BL2020-285 would require employees of essential businesses interfacing with the public to
wear face masks. There is not even evidence that wearing a face covering does much good. I wear one but I don't want to force people to were one.

Bills on Third Reading

Substitute BL2019-78 - This ordinance requires a minimum distance for any new Short Term Rental Property that are Not Owner-Occupied, from churches, schools, daycares, and parks. No new STRP permit could be located less than 100 feet from a religious institution, a school or its playground, a park, or a licensed day care center or its playground, unless, after a public hearing, a resolution receiving 21 affirmative votes is adopted by the Council. In my view this is uncalled for. I oppose this bill. I live on a street with several short-term rentals and have never had a problem. I have one diagonally across the street from me. Maybe some people do have a problem but that indicates a need for more enforcement not making it more difficult to have short-term rental. There are hotels and restaurants within 100 feet of some of the same class of entities identified in this bill. This would place greater restriction on homes rented short-term than we place on businesses. There is a greater likelihood of complaints against owner-occupied housing and long-term rental housing that there is from short-term rental.

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