Thursday, January 24, 2013

URGENT: East Nashville leaders urge Planning Commission meeting attendance today on Midtown rezoning

From an email blast sent out to East Nashvillians earlier today and forwarded to me:

As you may be aware, the Metro Council reached a compromise 4 months ago on the proposed Midtown rezoning (BL2012-195), which maintained the current rules for development in midtown, but also acknowledged that some of those guidelines could change IF if other protections for quality of life were added instead. The Council ordinance, which was unanimously supported by the Council, including every East Nashville councilmember, directed the Planning Department to engage the community and begin the process to resolve these issues before the end of 2013. Midtown, like East Nashville, has a long history of weird commercial development standing next to historic buildings. Getting the design properties right for that area of town is, as Martha says, a good thing.

Specifically, the compromise Council legislation stated the following:

"Be it further enacted that the Metropolitan Planning Department staff shall prepare Urban Design Overlay Zoning Districts (UDOs) to achieve the goals of the Midtown Community Plan Update and other public policy goals. Such UDOs shall provide additional development incentives in exchange for a higher level of building and site design in regard to the provision of additional pedestrian amenities, context sensitive considerations, the provision for work force housing and historic preservation, and other community goals or by the purchase of transfer development rights. The Metropolitan Planning Department staff shall further submit proposed legislation to the Metropolitan Council to provide for the transfer of development rights from historic properties deemed appropriate by the Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission. The Planning Department staff shall prepare such UDO and transfer of development rights legislation, and plans for incentivizing the construction of work force housing to the Metropolitan Council not later than December 3, 2013."

Unfortunately, Metro Planning staff and Councilmember Langster, contrary to the compromise unanimously approved by the Metro Council in BL2012-195, are bringing 163 of the previously proposed 455 acres of property contained in the Midtown rezoning proposal back to the Metro Planning Commission TODAY without any of the design guidelines or other stipulations that were agreed-upon last September.

Why should this matter to you? Because if a single councilmember and the Planning Department can circumvent the unanimous agreement of the rest of the council and ignore the need for public involvement in major rezoning issues in West Nashville, a single councilmember could do that here. Community input matters. One Councilmember should not be able to bully through major changes to our collective rules, on behalf of one or two developers and against the voice of his or her constituents.  I would encourage you, if you're able,  to attend the meeting today at 4:00 p.m. at the Sonny West Conference Center (old Howard School Building on 2nd Avenue) and voice your concerns. You can also e-mail Metro Planning Commissioners at: [unlinked].

Please take a minute to support our neighbors on the other side of the river. There are thoughtful, responsive ways to balance development, historic protections,  and neighborhood interests, but they're best identified with public input and a transparent process.

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