Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Metro Planning to Recommend Smaller Alternative to Germantown's Historic Overlay Proposal

The Metro Planning Office intends to recommend a smaller overlay footprint (indicated by the orange border in the sketch above) than the one proposed by District 19 Council Member Erica Gilmore in a bill that has passed first reading at Metro Council. The Planning Office's recommendation will be made to the Planning Commission on Thursday night, and the Planning Commission will make their own recommendation to Metro Council based on feedback that they receive in Public Hearing. The Council has final control of the decision to allow, reject, or refigure the overlay proposal.

The Planning Office is recommending that the boundries incompass a smaller part of the Germantown neighborhood in order "to eliminate areas with a very low concentration of contributing structures [i.e., those that qualify as historic]." Their recommendation would lop off Morgan Park (the inclusion of Morgan Park was once a subject of frank discussions between Germantown and Salemtown leaders) and several other blocks north of Jefferson Street between 4th and 5th Avenues.

I spoke with Planning officials this morning, and they emphasized that their recommendation was nothing more than a recommendation. My own personal experience before the Commission involved them declining the Planning Office's recommendation for downzoning in Salemtown in favor of one sponsored by Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association. So, I would think that statements made at the Public Hearing would matter more than Planning recommendations, although I do not know the voting record on recommendations.

Over the past few days a pitched debate over this overlay has been going on at the Nashville Charrette. One Germantown resident is arguing that "a lot of people" in Germantown are opposed to the overlay, but are afraid to speak out. Seeing the debates that I have in this community, I have a hard time believing that people are afraid to speak their minds on such a contentious issue as overlays.


  1. Hm. I notice the new overlay does NOT include the current FreshPoint property between 5th and 6th avenue on Jefferson. Rumor has it being sold to a developer, who had originally planned a multi-family rental property (similar to the one being built across from Werthan).

    If this area is not part of the overlay does this mean they could build the thing as high and as tightly as they want to?

  2. Umm, no. There are already plenty of zoning rules in effect that would limit the size and density of any new construction on that site. Just because the property is not subject to the historic zoning overlay does not mean that they have carte blanche.