A couple of months ago, I blogged my concerns about Belmont's plans to swallow up residential properties around it, allow them to fall into blight, and then swallow up more land as real estate prices dropped. I was particularly irked that Belmont officials seem to think that, because they send some students out to rake some leaves, those folks who live around the university owe Belmont acquiescence in return as it tries to drive down their real estate prices and then appropriate their land.
Yesterday the Planning Commission gave approval that would ease Belmont's attempts to continue to acquire residential properties beyond those it already owns. Neighbors from the area continue to express their protests about Belmont's already blighted holdings in the neighborhood. Nonetheless, the Planning Commission gave Belmont the green light to target properties for acquistion without having to come back to the Commission everytime they do so.
If I have understood the Commission's action, it seems effectively to guarantee that the owners of each residential property targeted by Belmont will not have his or her day before the Metro Planning Commission to express opposition to the university if he or she so chooses. The Commission seems to have given Belmont a leg-up ahead of each of its other neighbors.
The question remains: will Belmont treat surrounding neighborhoods as Vanderbilt University once treated neighborhoods like West End-Hillsboro, as pawns rather than partners?