Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Metro Council Passes Disputed Hermitage Zoning Changes on Third Reading

A highly charged Planned Unit Development that would allow expansion that Hermitage neighborhood residents maintain would destroy their Neighborhood Plan for a walkable neighborhood passed third and final reading last night amid a cloud of controversy about the bill, about the expansion, and about co-sponsors Harold White and J.B. Loring.

Several members mentioned that "a lot of people" in the neighborhood were upset by the development, which would add a third story to a medical building, take retail out of the first floor, and set it back to create more room for the increased vehicular traffic that comes with emergency treatment for patients at the center. Those comments seemed to have fallen on deaf Council ears, as the resolution is now law and the medical group is free to expand.

Responding to a statement that Mr. White made last night that only 6 people showed up for a community meeting, Neighborhood blogger Jean Grey--whose blog I'm embarrassed to admit I just discovered today--writes:
Harold said that there were "six" people at the May 7 community meeting. Well, let me ask you, Harold, do you think the community is psychic? Do you think they just automatically show up? NO, you have to put some effort into inviting them!!! Like we did!!!! And, I'm sorry, but I've been too freakin' too busy to do your job for you.
I'm bound to join in and ask our Council Members, can we really call them "community meetings" when the community isn't properly informed about them?

Someone in Hermitage produced a sobering video on this controversy, and I'm sorry that I didn't find out about it until after the Council's vote. You have to watch it. It is effective and it should give us all pause on the power that Council Members have to ignore neighborhoods and tell neighborhood organizations that they are not bound to negotiate with any person beyond the monied interests of business.


  1. I realise that I left this comment at NiT, but should probably leave it here and expand on it.

    Well, seeing as I don’t live there but do drive past there at least twice a day, most days… (I live about 2.5 miles away and work in the library.)

    The Medical building is supposed to go in on a corner.

    Right now there are four corners there. (duh.)

    1. Benson’s Market–a vocal opposition to any proposed development for reasons still not clear to me.

    2. A wooded area next to the park/library/community center/police station complex.

    3. A field next to a house which has stood empty for months (years) and is increasingly derelict, with boarded up windows and high-growing weeds.

    4. A tacky little bait shop/mattress store. The building is a low, ugly seventies-style one-story with a gravel parking area surrounded by weeds.

    Frankly, it’s a trashy run-down intersection that has dragged on property values for years. Until they built the Municipal complex 7 years ago, this was a little slice of hillbilly in the middle of a rapidly-developing community.

    It’s ugly and blighted, with properties that aren’t well-maintained.

    yes, there are many residential homes which back up to the four neglected corners. And I can see how they would prefer to have a quiet neighbor instead of a big medical building.

    But frankly, I’d rather have a shiny, well-maintained medical center next to my house than a scary looking store that has “Mattresses!” and “Bait and Tackle!” painted in 4-foot high dayglo balloon letters on the windows.

    The "walkable neighbourhood" plan has been talked about for years, with no realistic steps made in that direction that I can see. We've had rumours of boutique shops , offices and other changes floated for the entire 8 years I've lived here. None of those materialise and in the intervening time we've been left with an increasingly embarrassing intersection.

    But that’s just me, I guess.

  2. Reply from C. Clark to kat coble at NiT:

    Well, Kat, I don’t see your name on the list of participants in the Sub Area Planning meetings. The neighbors never said they didn’t want a medical office building. They said the didn’t want a 35,000 square ft. three story monstrosity of a building. The Sub Area Plan calls for small scale pedestrian friendly development in this area — something to serve the exisitng neighborhoods (like Benson’s Market); not something that invites additional traffic from all over the easter edge of Davidson County and the western edge of Wilson County. In addition, the Metro Council asked for meetings with the community to come to a COMPROMISE on this proposal. When the meeting finally happened, the councilman only notified TWO PEOPLE he was having the so-called meeting and then told them he wasn’t there to compromise. How’s that for representation???

    By the way, the same doctors are the developers of the proposed retirement center that you mention. And it’s not 800 beds, it’s 2,300. In addition, Riverwood will also contain 500 apartments, 300 single family, and 450 condos/townhomes. The trip generation study indicates it will add 15,000 car trips per day — all running through this very intersection. All this for the same group of doctors. They seem to be personal favorites of this councilman.

  3. Reply from Bobbie to C. Clark and kat coble at NiT:

    Yes, she needs to be educated on the fact that the 2004 sub-area plan that were established, to develop a pedestrian friendly neighborhood, takes more than 3 years to build, and the community complex where she works would not exist had it not been for that purpose of starting the process. Maybe it was talked about for 8 years ago, so why do you think over 250 volunteers spent many months in 2003-2004 formulating the plan that was APPROVED BY THE COUNCIL. Very disturbing they allow it to be torn to bits by our councilman who refuses to properly represent the persons living in this neighborhood of over 800 families.