Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Woodlawn Area NA President Petitions Planning Commission to Deny Charlie Tygard His Neighborhood LED Billboards on June 11

In a letter to the Planning Commission and several other Metro leaders, WANA President Bell Lowe Newton makes some strong arguments:
The fact that [the neighborhood light emitting diode billboard] ordinance will open up of every zoning district in Nashville to the possibility of LED signs is shocking and appalling to me. In reading Section 17.16.140 [of the Metropolitan Zoning Ordinance], which describes the general conditions that all special exceptions have to fulfill, I now know that I would have to refer to these conditions to show the BZA how an LED sign negatively affects my home, property and neighborhood. These include not adversely affecting other property to the extent that it will impair reasonable long-term use, and protecting persons and property from erosion, flooding, fire, noise, glare, or similar hazards. I am further disturbed to learn that although the BZA has the latitude to determine that an LED sign could be detrimental to a neighborhood, the fact that the majority of a neighborhood opposes such a sign would not be the determining factor in whether a sign of this nature is erected.

Of even greater alarm is that I feel you are so out of touch as to how the majority of taxpaying citizens feel about this extremely important issue. While Mr. Tygard “sees nothing objectionable for a church or school to use a changeable message panel to convey the good deeds and events going on within those buildings, especially since there is less power & less light produced than the current floodlit signs,” my neighbors and I do.

Excuse me, but it appears that some government officials are not voting the voice of their constituents and I urge you to disapprove this bill.

The overwhelming majorities of many of our neighborhood associations believe that the city should be LED free, but, if you insist on having them, please resign these gaudy, atrocious signs into the remaining commercial, office, and shopping areas and allow agricultural and residential need to stay LED FREE.

I oppose LED signs in neighborhoods even with the protections described in the draft ordinance.

And, please know that I clearly understand the difference between these signs with all their protections and video signs. I know that Councilman Tygard is not trying to put moving video screens on every street. I feel that even if a monument type sign that would be generally similar to what the proposed ordinance would allow isn't as gaudy as the sign on I-65, it is still inappropriate in a neighborhood and even the less commercial areas around town.

I don't think a monument type LED sign with amber letters is appropriate for a neighborhood even if it does turn off at 10 PM, and I am concerned about enforcement since there are over 50 signs that have been determined to be out of compliance with the existing ordinance.
Putting LEDs in a "monument-type sign" is merely dressing up and putting female warpaint on a porker.

President Newton's insight on the likelihood that CM Tygard is taking control of quality of life decisions away from neighborhoods should be sobering to all of us who are concerned with the erosion of local autonomy. What is even more frightening is that the control is being handed to the Board of Zoning Appeals, a Metro bureaucracy that does not have an uncontroversial reputation. Last year, Mayor Karl Dean appointed and the Metro Council unanimously approved anti-neighborhood Belle Meadean Chris Whitson, who asserted that he would "interpret and apply" existing laws rather than creating new ones. Whitson won't have to make a new law toxic to local communities; CM Tygard is handing him one that he can merely "interpret and apply" against neighborhoods in the LED billboard legislation.


  1. Just curious, but what is "female warpaint"?

  2. An archaic colloquialism for "lipstick," as in "lipstick on a pig."