Residents have been made to follow the historic design guidelines for a generation, guidelines they were told must be consistent in terms of the "community character." And they were led to believe that community character is defined as:
The image of a community or area defined by such factors as its built environment, natural features and open space elements, types of housing...(and) to preserve the general character of the neighborhood as characterized by its development pattern, building form, land use and associated public realm. These areas will experience some change over time but efforts should be made to retain the existing character…Now ..., residents are being told the community character only involves the specific design elements of buildings that can been seen from the street. Nothing abut green space, the space between buildings, the alignment of buildings, or the number of residents - or anything else the residents consider as community character - may be considered, they are told.
Residents are concerned that the new high-density cottage development with a minimum of yard space will attract a different demographic - one that is not interested in yards and gardens. They are concerned of attracting a younger demographic of single persons - such as college students - with too many cars and pets and friends to comfortably fit onto a 150 by 165 foot lot along with eight cottages.
My considered suspicion of Nashville Next is often met with disbelief, defensiveness and frustration by those who enthusiastically participated in its process or those who believe it changes nothing about past community planning.
But Nashville Next has been the next stunt to lead neighbors into believing that they have influence over their community's character, when in reality they little. Planners shift paradigms and communities are thrown off balance. Market-driven developers, power-hoarding politicians and esoteric new urbanists have the strongest hold of the reigns of planning of anyone.
It was so in 2013. It is so in 2014. And it will be so in 2015.