Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If the Pastor and the City Paper Want a Compromise, Then Bo Knows Compromise

I was able to meet and to chat with Council Member Bo Mitchell (Dist. 35, which is Charlie Tygard's old district and the location of the church that motivated the LED bill) at Monday night's LED meeting. As representative of the pastor who wants the LED and of neighborhoods who oppose LEDs in general, Mr. Mitchell is in a bit of a pinch. But he seems to be a pragmatist about it and he expressed a desire to me to produce a win-win compromise for both sides.

He spoke of a bill that he intends to introduce in Metro Council that would cut back the number of streets on which LEDs would be eligible from 7,600 eligible properties to 28, and he advocates working with neighborhoods to shrink the number lower if necessary. He was kind enough to give me a not-yet-ready-for-prime-time copy and permission to post here:

Click to enlarge.

Mr. Mitchell's bill would limit LED allowance to sprawl-like properties on state arterial highways. It is much less of a blanket approach than CM Tygard's. It's more like a place mat approach.

I have my disagreements with it: high-density Rosa Parks Boulevard is included in the list of highways where properties would be allowed to have LEDs, but at least CM Mitchell is open to paring the list down if neighborhoods objected. I have more affinities for at-Large Council Member Megan Barry's argument that we should move toward solving the exemption problem first and only then work toward a more comprehensive and lengthy reformulation of the sign code on what should be allowed and prohibited in general. We still need a protracted and formal debate on whether LEDs are good for Nashville in general, but at least the District 35 Council Member is attempting to find a middle way between the two sides with an expressed openness to criticism and revision. I'm enough of a pragmatist to recognize compromise when I see it.

If the pastor wants to compromise, he should look to his own council representative for the answer. And rather than looking to Mr. Tygard for their compromise meme, the City Paper might want to talk with Mr. Mitchell.

UPDATE & CORRECTION: CM Mitchell wrote me this afternoon to say that he was mistaken in the stipulation of 4-lane highways, since the church in his district sits on a 2-laner. Doh! His bill as it was written would not have been a win for the church, and it would have still opened up 28 arterial residential streets properties to LED. He removed that stipulation from his latest draft, but does that open up more arterial streets to LED? If so, then I can see little advantage for neighborhoods who oppose LED. The resulting confusion and possible erosion of middle ground makes CM Mitchell's bill impractical. It may now help the church, but I'm not convinced that it is good for neighborhoods. The church should look into rezoning their property rather than expecting Nashville's neighborhoods to conform to their desires.

CLARIFICATION: Bo Mitchell writes:
I am trying to clear up some confusion that you and I seem to be having with that "draft legislation" I gave you. I had legal draw up my legislation Monday afternoon before that meeting and the words four lane was mistakenly inserted, but I gave you a list of streets and properties that could be effected. The bill states that only church properties that are 6.5 acres or more on a state highway arterial would be eligible for a LED sign. That would only be 28-30 properties (signs) countywide.
Here is the list of streets on which eligible properties would fall:

Click to enlarge.

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