Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another at-Large Council Member Hocking a Bright Sign Bill

Last term it was Buck Dozier (at-large) sponsoring a bill (unsuccessfully) to allow more distracting bright light clutter on the streetscapes of Nashville. Now Charlie Tygard is poised to take his turn. And I have to wonder how far local sign maker and Metro patron Bobby Joslin's foot is in the door CM Tygard is opening.

In a Friday afternoon e-mail to fellow Metro council members, CM Tygard (at-large) says that he intends to file an amendment to Metro's Sign Ordinance on Tuesday that would "allow churches, synagogues, and other non-profits that exist on major streets, i.e. collector & arterial roads only, to install LED-signs as a matter of right." He is doing so on behalf of a Baptist church in Bellevue. He tells his fellows that churches and non-profits in residential neighborhoods would not be permitted LED-signs; only those that have to compete with Walgreens or Publix on "major roads" would be allowed. That sounds like a lot of new business for Mr. Joslin's company.

I'm not a big fan of any of these new iris-branding LED signs that lead to driver rubbernecking at places like Walgreens, but in fairness to commercial establishments, we should ask whether Baptist churches are aiming for the same market niche as the local drug store or supermarket. What kind of competitive edge does Publix LED have that puts Harpeth Heights Baptist Church at an economic disadvantage? The church is in the business of saving souls, not selling oranges, and permitting rezoning so that it can proselytize seems to be skirting a rather gray area.

CM Tygard's bill also looks like a narrowly suburban-leaning one. This distinction between commercial areas placed along arterial streets completely set off from sprawling neighborhoods and secondary roads is irrelevant to high-density urban neighborhoods, where either commercial areas are mixed-use or arterial roads are right on top of stoops. An LED sign at a great distance in suburbia would loom very near many urban homes.

One would think that as an at-large member, vested with representing all of Nashville, CM Tygard would have branched out from his former Bellevue seat and started considering the consequences of such a bill for all of our neighborhoods. But with this bill and his recent comments about getting a Bellevue library stuck into the Bellevue Mall financing plan, it appears that he ran for this seat in order to bring the goods home to his own former constituents.


  1. There are two main reasons HH Baptist Church cannot have a sign such as this. The first is they are not on commercially zoned property. The second is they are within 100 feet of a residence. They don't need this bill, they need to change their zoning. They are already in talks to potentially buy the residence. Obviously there are reasons that are beneficial to them to not have commerical zoning but they shouldn't have their cake and eat it too. They need to change their zoning, they need to purchase the residence. They need to follow the rules of every other business that has to meet these requirements just as Walgreens and Publix did. The YMCA did get a variance on their signage because they are off the street and there's no way to know they're there without the sign. But I still don't agree with that - they didn't need an LED moving sign to make that happen either. The zoning commission shut Tygard down and now he's trying to get HH permission to get their sign at the visual cost to the entire population of Nashville.

  2. Tygard put his LED sign bill on the consent agenda Thursday, February 28. Because he did this, no public hearing was held and no citizen got to oppose the bill. Several opposing citizens came to the Planning Commission to speak but were not allowed. The bill goes to Metro Council this Tuesday night, March 4th, for public hearing. This will be the only opportunity for the citizens to speak unless Tygard can figure out a way to silence the residents again. Who wants an LED sign shining in their window all night? If the church wants to have an LED sign, they can go to the Board of Zoning Appeals and plead their case. That's why they exist. If they have been turned down there is a reason. Check Tygard's campaign disclosure and I bet you will find Mr. Joslin's name listed. Tygard is willing to sell out every Nashvillian for Joslin and the under the table kickbacks he will receive. Why hasn't the press picked up on this? The residents of Nashville won't have a clue what is going on until the Joslin truck shows up to plug in their new sign. This ain't Vegas Charlie. We don't want your stinking signs in our neighborhoods. Everybody call the mayor, call the tv stations, call your council person. This scam cannot be allowed to continue.