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Should Nashville be regionalized?


Should Nashville be regionalized?  

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  1. 1. Should Metro Nashville be regionalized?

    • Yes! It would allow Nashville to manage its growth better.
    • No! It would take away authority from the city level and therefore risk losing the character that has come to define these cities.

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Chances are, you've read articles in The Tennessean or something like it about people advocating regionalization of Metro Nashville. Now I'm asking you; should Nashville come together to manage it's growth better? Here are some pros and cons:


-The biggest pro: Metro Nashville could freely manage its growth between cities. This would save money and a lot of time.

-If done well, it could potentially bring in more jobs

-It would somewhat "futureproof" Nashville to potentially avoid crisis such as the water crisis Atlanta is experiencing.


-The biggest con: it would take away much authority from the local city level (i.e. Franklin, Hendersonville) and thus, risk having those cities lose their charming character that has defined them for years.

-If done poorly, it could potentially drive away buisnesses.

Cities that have regionalized themselves to much success include Portland (Oregon) and Seattle.

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Here is a dated, yet interesting article highlighting Portland's regionalism. I think it's neat that the city had the forsight to be the first to do this. However, I am not so sure it would work in Nashville where it seems the ring cities have power and influence in their own right. I love how the manicured/planned form of growth in Portland, though, set them up to have much better mass transit and interconnectivity.


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I was going to write that exact same post, Lexy. ATL is not something we want to duplicate. Regionalism would do nothing to threaten the character of surrounding cities; as a matter of fact, it would go much farther to preserve them by influencing smart transportation and much more efficient land use policy.

As we continue to grow and populate this planet, these kinds of considerations for how we grow are going to become mandatory in order to manage our energy, space and resource consumption so we do NOT end up like Atlanta. You may or may not be aware, but Atlanta is one of the world's busiest cities, is ranked 1st or 2nd in terms of traffic congestion and is currently running out of water. Hear that? WATER. It covers 75% of this planet and yet they can't seem to get enough to service their population. That is the epitome of incompetent governing.

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I don't know much about regional governments, but I think if properly executed it could be very successful and beneficial in the future. The main thing I would want to ensure is that local governments still function and govern within their municipalities (new parks, zoning, and schools) but issues that would impact the area should go to the regional government (interstate exits, attracting HQ's from other cities, water, etc). How would the area decide which area would get things like the Nissan HQ? Would it just be assumed that Nashville gets it? I think a lot of things could be beneficial, but a lot of things would need to be worked out to ensure a balance of power between cities and the regional government.

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Here are a couple of articles for you that may help. I have included a proposal of what the Twin Cities are trying to do with a 7 county land use plan as well.

From the Yale Law Journal


An article from David Rusk


Twin Cities proposal


In some ways regionalization makes since but there are a lot of problems that come with it. I think the tax base issue would be the greatest. What is a fair tax for all of the city and county governments? I don

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All local government issues that change their governing functions, powers, titles, etc. get passed through the state legislature, so a regionalized government like this would have to pass through the legislature before it would be allowed to be created. For example the state legislature had to vote to allow the creation of every metro government in the state and will have to vote to allow all future ones. Usually the legislature will pass what has been approved by local government without much question as long as its not controversial in terms of whats being asked to be allowed and/or no controversies exist as to how it was passed by local government. A regional government like this would be unprecedencted and would face a lot of debate and effort to get out of the legislature and signed by a governor.

I could never see the metro's city and county governments getting behind a unified regional government for this to even get off the drawing board. The local elected governments and electorates of the metro counties aren't going to want to give up local governance and powers to a new over-arching non-reflexive governing body based in Nashville.

I do think local cities and counties in the metro could be persuaded to co-operate on a whole host of regional issues via regional compacts.

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Karl Dean has stated that he would like this to happen but the local governments would have to agree with it. As of right now, they're getting closer due to the fact that some are beginning to have trouble keeping up with their respective growths added to the fact that they're witnessing what is happening in Atlanta but they are still a long way away from agreeing. Some are at least beginning to cooperate better though insted of bickering about everything. That's a start.

For all of you who are trying to figure out what regionalization is:

Right now the way we operate is that all of metro nashville's smaller local cities (franklin, hendersonville, murfreesboro, clarksville, brentwood, etc) operate independently of eachother. Meaning, if Bentwood wanted to build a road that might cross into franklin territory, they would have to get permission from franklin first, then franklin would pretty much have complete control over what happened with the road once it was in their area. The same goes for buisnesses. The local cities compete with eachother for buisnesses which can be good (competetion is always good) but for anyone who wants to see these buisnesses go downtown, it's not so good.

In a regionalized government, you still have the local cities and their board of directors and all of that but they have to go through the regional government for their various projects, etc The regional government has the final say for just about everything I believe.

If I'm wrong about any of this then someone please correct me.

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I think a regional authority with power to control would never go anywhere....people aren't going to be willing to give up say and power. A regional authority that would help control regional issues (in the road situation, they would help allign the roads in Bwood and Franklin and oversee them and their design) and provide advice and guidance I could see. It's pretty Anti-Federalist around here - people and cities want their liberties....right or wrong IMO

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If done properly, this would be great for Nashville. However, being the misanthrope that I am, I do not see this as practical. Greedy politicians would create conflict and cities like Murfreesboro, Franklin, and Spring Hill would hate the fact that they would not be able to grow as they pleased (completely out of control with disgusting sprawling neighborhoods ruining the countryside and bland office parks with massive parking lots). I think it would be great if there was a single authority to guide and direct growth statewide. I think only the state would have the authority to get the growth under control and not appear as overly biased in doing so.

Also, remember that Nashville itself is very liberal, and the suburbs are very conservative. I think that would create problems...Nashville and its suburbs seem to have different ideas about how to manage growth. Who would be neutral enough to be in charge?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tennessean Article: "Cooperation, Competition Help Nashville Area Rise."

Attached is a link to the latest installment of the Tennessean article series on this topic.

Tennessean Article: "Sumner Commision Adopts A Fee To Fund Road Work."

And here is a link to a loosely-related article about Sumner County imposing fees for new housing to fund road work. I know how some people feel about taxes, but this seems like a very common-sense approach to me.

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