Sunday, April 27, 2008

Restriction to East-West, Lower Density Axis May Prejudice Tygard's LED Force

The "LED task force," which has been put together exclusively by at-Large Council Member Charlie Tygard would only include representatives from lower density neighborhoods in east and west Nashville. That fact puts north and south Nashville residents and higher density urban residents at a distinct disadvantage in the debate over placing light-emitting diode signs in mostly-residential areas.

CM Tygard has already conceded that he only sought referrals from fellow members who represent the Hillsboro-West End (HWEN) and Donelson-Hermitage areas of town in building his task force. The Hillsboro-West End area includes the old street-car suburbs around Hillsboro Village as well as the classic lower-density suburbs around the southwest I-440 loop. While not as sprawling as Bellevue or Madison, HWEN residents are not generally packed in or on top of each other with a lot of mixed-use. Donelson-Hermitage is a newer generation of commuter suburb, sprawling down the I-40 corridor past Percy Priest Lake and the western border of Davidson County. It represents what was once one of Nashville's "bedroom communities." It is among the lowest density neighborhood areas.

These would be representative appointments if Nashville was entirely suburban. In reality they do not represent the actual diversity of Nashville's neighborhoods, nor can they speak for those who live in the close quarters of urban neighborhoods, where more people would be living next to super-saturated luminosity of flashing LED signs, which currently are not legal or regulated. Woodlawn President Bell Lowe Newton said it best in an e-mail to CM Tygard over the weekend:

One suggestion I have is for there to be a representative from a higher density urban neighborhood, i.e., East End or the Gulch. An LED sign in an urban area like these could be a very dramatic imposition. Also, what about our neighbors to the north and south? As an at large member of the Metro Council, you might want to consider having neighborhood representation from these areas so that all points of the community compass are represented.
The fact that north and south council members were not consulted for task force recommendations is inexcusable. Nashville's east-west axis is more affluent and more white than points north and south, and to limit representative influence over recommendations under the pretense of community input is underhanded and appears to be prejudiced.

CM Tygard has defended his choices for task force appointments by saying that they are "experienced in various types of zoning issues." Without questioning that experience, I would argue that the only way that this task force could pay attention to the closer scale of urban neighborhoods is to include at least one representative from an urban neighborhood. I can think of several folks who have lived in the North End for decades who could speak to the higher density impact of LED outside of a spread-out suburban scale. CM Tygard should consult north-south council members like Erica Gilmore and Sandra Moore before starting his meeting tomorrow.

Urban neighbors will be more greatly burdened by the same LED signs that many sign-owners wouldn't allow in their own neighborhoods. Urban neighbors should be included on any LED task force. Appointing task force members from north and south could fill that vacuum.

1 comment:

  1. I removed the comment above at the request of the author.