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Brett's 02/04/14 Council Meeting Debrief


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I left my notes at home, but here is my play-by-play for last night's Council meeting, which lasted 3 hours.  The first council meeting of the month has bills that are up for second reading, which usually includes a public hearing.  All seats were full with people waiting in the mezzanine for others to get their bill heard and leave so that new people could come in out of the mezzanine and be seated in the Council chambers.


-2nd reading for the massive Hillsboro West End Conservation Zoning Overlay including about 500 parcels.  Approximately 15 people spoke in favor.  The neighborhood chair and the committee chair did an excellent job with their presentation and they had their speakers lined up with scripts ready so as not to repeat.  That's right, about 40 minutes of testimony in favor excluding Council member comments and committee reports.  One neighbor was opposed because "only" 60% of her block was in favor of the CZO.  Council Member Burkely Allen graciously agreed to meet with the folks on that block to work out final details before the 3rd reading in 2 weeks.  CM Allen is a class act!

-Tons of projects in The Nations.  Their neighborhood president was at the podium speaking for each one and had more floor time than Charlie Tygard, which is saying something for those of you who are Council groupies like I am.  Note to developers:  the key to passing massive townhome or infill projects in the Nations is to publish an SP and vet it with the neighbors.  The one project that was opposed was a project in the Nations to replace an old lumber yard or something like that.  The neighbors stated emphatically that a standard rezoning won't do.  They need to see the details spelled out in an SP.  Good for them!  As a neighborhood president myself, I learned from many of my colleages last night and have an even greater appreciation for the quality of individuals we have who work tirelessly as volunteers to ensure that developments meet the needs of both new and existing residents.

-South Nashville downzoning:  One neighborhood near Tusculum Road in South Nashville petitioned Planning to downzone their neighborhood from an R- zoning that allows single- or two-family homes to an RS- zoning that limits the lots to single family homes.  The Planning Commission denied their request, and so the community needed a super-majority of the council to overturn the Planning Commission recommendation.  The neighborhood prevailed and got their single-family home limit for their area.  I know that many of us on this board support increased density.  But I am still inspired that this community organized, paid the notice fees and signage costs, brought out their people, and got their way.  Sometimes if you want it badly enough and work hard enough, have a convincing argument, and get enough people to support you, democracy works.


In my own neck of the woods, an expansion of the Eastwood Neighbors Conservation Zoning Overlay to include the parcels east of Walden/Portland Brew in our Overlay passed 3rd reading alongside a bill to give the parcels on the south side of Eastland MUN-A zoning so that those houses can be operated as businesses as long as the historic houses remain.  We are now considering the same arrangement for other parts of our neighborhood so that Eastland/Porter will come closer to resembling Five Points.  This deal for this handfull of parcels has been well over a year in the making and it is finally done.  Now for our larger rezoning.  Wish me luck!

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