Friday, April 05, 2013

Developer watchdog: Mike Kenner proposes SP for edge of Salemtown

Last year I described problems with perceptions of a 5th Avenue development and I suggested that we keep our eyes open in the future for any other rezoning requests by the developer, Mike Kenner. The future is now: the Nashville Post has the latest spin on properties along Rosa Parks and I-65 that Mr. Kenner wants to rezone for "cottage-style" abodes. He is seeking a "specific plan":

For Salemtown Cottages, Britnie Faith Turner serves as principal of Aerial Development, with Michael Kenner the principal of MiKen Development.

Kenner said the next step in the process is an April 10 [date changed; see below] community meeting (one has already been held) at Morgan Park Community Center. Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, within whose district the proposed development would sit, is expected to attend.

“We want to develop in Salemtown with the support of Councilwoman Gilmore,” said Kenner, adding that Civil Site will serves as the project’s main engineer, with Village Real Estate Service’s City Living Team to market and sell the homes. He did not disclose the name of the architect.

“We’ve already submitted an SP (specific plan) and are waiting for comments from the Metro Planning Department,” Kenner said. “If everything goes well, we’ll get Planning and Council support and break ground within 90 days.”

Kenner said the development team will purchase eight different parcels on which Salemtown Cottages will be built only after all Metro approvals are finalized.

Rezoning for a specific plan allows a development to integrate elements of the neighborhood and allows neighborhoods a voice through community meetings and public hearings. It has been used well and misused, but it is generally designed to address "the unique characteristics of an individual property" while ensuring that "the surrounding neighborhood and community at-large are not adversely affected".

The concept posted here to keep our community informed.
In his interview, Mr. Kenner did not say he was seeking the support of Salemtown neighbors, even as he admitted that he was seeking CM Gilmore's support. However, the spirit of the original SP legislation is that developers seek the support of the neighborhood and not only the council member. Feedback about integration with community character and plans are welcomed in the process of this, and the council member is supposed to facilitate that process. In exchange the developer does not have to navigate pre-existing zoning that itself may no longer fit community character and hampers the build. It is vital that Salemtown residents attend the meetings and public hearings and give feedback that can be incorporated into the SP. It is also important that Mr. Kenner, who lives in the Sylvan Park neighborhood, listen to feedback in good faith.

I emailed Erica Gilmore to tell her that I did not receive an announcement about the April 10 meeting advertised in the paper and to ask her for all the details. She replied that the meeting had been moved to April 17 and that she was working on a mailer. I will post the details here when I am made aware of them.

Former CM Mike Jameson held an SP community meeting process almost 7 years ago that gives us a good idea of what it is supposed to look like:

JAMESON: “If you build a coffee shop in a residential area, right now you just get zoning variances or terms of conditions and it doesn’t say anything about hours of operation, so many parking spaces and so forth. SP allows that and it becomes your zoning. This coffee shop will have 6 parking spaces and will close at 9pm and it won’t play loud music or live music after 9pm or whatever you want to put in and that is the zoning.”

Both traditional and SP zoning have to go through the same process: planning commission approval, public meetings, and three readings before the metro council. But SP lays out the land usage up front, and neighborhoods have the opportunity to change what goes into a given property ....

SP can be used to apply design guidelines, or even regulate what types of businesses are in an area. Councilman Jameson wants to use SP to curb the number of duplexes built in his district. He hopes that including the neighborhood on the front end will give his SP duplex regulation smoother passage.

In the case of Mr. Kenner's request, the SP process actually allows us to keep tabs on what he is doing with his development and how whether he is responsive to community feedback. Once the SP is approved, the developer has to abide by the terms and we can verify whether he is or not. During a separate SP in 2007, I documented how another development team initially reversed course on installing brick veneer, which had been mandated in the SP. They would have had to go through whole rezoning process again if they had not gone back and installed it.

Let me reemphasize the important point that all neighbors interested in the character of our neighborhood should attend community meetings and public hearings on the Salemtown Cottages SP and keep up with the process. If you are a property owner who lives out of town, follow the news on it and write CM Gilmore with your feedback (""). If you have concerns about parking, noise, signage, landscaping, design, number of homes, square footage, density, etc. you should involve yourself in this process. You can be sure that both the developer and the council member will. You cannot have any influence over them if you do not participate.

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