Last term it was Buck Dozier (at-large) sponsoring a bill (unsuccessfully) to allow more distracting bright light clutter on the streetscapes of Nashville. Now Charlie Tygard is poised to take his turn. And I have to wonder how far local sign maker and Metro patron Bobby Joslin's foot is in the door CM Tygard is opening.
In a Friday afternoon e-mail to fellow Metro council members, CM Tygard (at-large) says that he intends to file an amendment to Metro's Sign Ordinance on Tuesday that would "allow churches, synagogues, and other non-profits that exist on major streets, i.e. collector & arterial roads only, to install LED-signs as a matter of right." He is doing so on behalf of a Baptist church in Bellevue. He tells his fellows that churches and non-profits in residential neighborhoods would not be permitted LED-signs; only those that have to compete with Walgreens or Publix on "major roads" would be allowed. That sounds like a lot of new business for Mr. Joslin's company.
I'm not a big fan of any of these new iris-branding LED signs that lead to driver rubbernecking at places like Walgreens, but in fairness to commercial establishments, we should ask whether Baptist churches are aiming for the same market niche as the local drug store or supermarket. What kind of competitive edge does Publix LED have that puts Harpeth Heights Baptist Church at an economic disadvantage? The church is in the business of saving souls, not selling oranges, and permitting rezoning so that it can proselytize seems to be skirting a rather gray area.
CM Tygard's bill also looks like a narrowly suburban-leaning one. This distinction between commercial areas placed along arterial streets completely set off from sprawling neighborhoods and secondary roads is irrelevant to high-density urban neighborhoods, where either commercial areas are mixed-use or arterial roads are right on top of stoops. An LED sign at a great distance in suburbia would loom very near many urban homes.
One would think that as an at-large member, vested with representing all of Nashville, CM Tygard would have branched out from his former Bellevue seat and started considering the consequences of such a bill for all of our neighborhoods. But with this bill and his recent comments about getting a Bellevue library stuck into the Bellevue Mall financing plan, it appears that he ran for this seat in order to bring the goods home to his own former constituents.