Monday, February 16, 2009

Michael Craddock Appears to Be Spot Zoning for an LED Billboard at Goodpasture Christian School

Some Enclave commenters bring up a bill that CM Michael Craddock is sponsoring to rezone a .05 acre sliver of Goodpasture Christian School property as a thinly veiled attempt to "spot zone" for a 15-foot LED billboard for the private school. One of the arguments that Charlie Tygard and other LED proponents have made against specific rezoning for the Bellevue Southern Baptist church that prompted him to introduce a one-size-fits-all sign ordinance is that spot zoning is inappropriate. Now Craddock, who tends to support Tygard, is relying on the same notion of spot zoning that LED ordinance proponents reject in other cases.

Here is one commenter's dispatch from last Thursday night's Planning Commission Meeting discussion of the religious school's billboard request beginning with the person of Jim Gotto, who is the Council representative on the Planning Commission:
Someone from Hermitage needs to ask their Councilman Jim Gotto what in the world he thinking Thursday night at the Metro Planning Commission meeting.

Goodpasture Christian School came before the MPC asking to rezone a small sliver of their property CS in order to get an electronic LED sign on their property. Councilman Michael Craddock [Goodpasture's council rep.] came and spoke in favor.

Councilman Gotto, who serves on the MPC, made a motion to deny the CS zoning but instead give them SP zoning on this tiny part of their property for an LED sign.

Commissioner Andree LeQuire had strong concerns stating that the MPC needed to let the LED sign task force make their recommendation before ruling on such a sign. Commissioner Stewart Clifton, who also serves on the task force, stated that the task force had one more meeting and a recommendation would be made. He reminded the commissioners that there were signs all over town that were illegal now that no one was policing.

Gotto tried to tell the group that the task force might take a year to 18 months. Gotto's motion was amended by Commissioner Phil Ponder to allow the sign to be 110% of what it is now and be LED. Goodpasture is one step closer to getting an LED sign that is 15 foot tall with no restrictions. Even if there is a change in LED law, will they be grandfathered in?

The vote was 6-2 in favor. I am sorry commissioners, isn't this spot zoning? Where was Mr. Bernhardt? He always speaks up reminding the commissioners that SP is not for spot zoning. Has he been gagged by his budget cuts? Has he chosen to be quiet in order to try and get the council to put more money back in his budget? He did mention that at the end of the meeting.

If the whole LED sign bill was to get the Bellevue Church a sign, why didn't they just use spot zoning? That too was a scam to get Bobby Joslin the law changed to pad his pockets with cash.

The whole thing tonight looked like a setup. Why do citizens waste their time on a task force when people like Gotto, Craddock and their buddy Charlie Tygard do whatever they damn well please?

The good ole boys have worked their magic on this one. Now everybody and their brother will be at the Planning Commission asking for spot zoning to get them an LED sign, even if they are illegal.

The best part, Gotto suggested that Craddock sponsor the SP so that Goodpasture doesn't have to pay the $6000 SP fee. I thought the city was broke? Why are we giving away $6000 that would go to the city while we break the law Mr. Gotto?

It seems ludicrous enough that Craddock was seeking commercial zoning on a 2,000 ft sq. plot just large enough for a billboard. Churches don't have to pay taxes, and Gotto is trying to loophole a charitable, church-based school so they have no financial obligation to the community on whom they are imposing whatsoever. If they're going to get government handouts, then they should have to pay taxes on their assets.

But I digress. As another Enclave commenter pointed out, the Metro Planning Department strongly recommended against any spot zoning change for Goodpasture's billboard in no uncertain terms:
"The applicant has stated that the purpose of of the zoning request is to allow an electronic sign, which is not allowed in the OR20 district. It is inappropriate to rezone property to a zoning district that is not consistent with policy, or the surrounding zoning to allow a use that is prohibited in the existing zoning district. It sets a bad precedent, and is not consistent with the community planning process, which has identified this area as non-commercial. It would be more appropriate to look at the sign ordinance and make any necessary changes."

It is increasingly clear to me that LED proponents are going to use any argument that benefits their business patrons and parochial organizations regardless of the interests of neighborhoods. They'll reject spot zoning when it doesn't serve them. When they want to leverage imbalanced and inconsistent growth, they'll spot zone. And you know what? Charlie Tygard's LED ordinance will not do a thing to stop spot zoning whenever a council member wants to force an LED billboard on a community. The whole argument for a law that creates exceptions for LEDs in certain conditions is a sham. I believe it is a bait and switch designed not to restrict LEDs but to provide one more mechanism in league with spot zoning to erect more LEDs with less resistance in residential areas.


  1. Leave Gotto alone. At least he is fighting the railroad for all of us to get the bridge downtown painted.

  2. Do you see the word "sign" anywhere in Craddock's bill? Did Councilman Craddock forget to tell the public and his fellow council members that he is trying to sneak a 15 foot LED sign in under their noses? Transparency in government Michael! Transparency!

    ORDINANCE NO. BL2009-396

    An ordinance to amend Title 17 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws, the Zoning Ordinance of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, by changing from OR20 to CS zoning a portion of property located at 619 Due West Avenue, approximately 1,000 feet west of South Graycroft Avenue (0.05 acres), all of which is described herein (Proposal No. 2009Z-007PR-001).


    Section 1. That Title 17 of the Code of Laws of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, is hereby amended by changing the Official Zoning Map for Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, which is made a part of Title 17 by reference, as follows:

    By changing from OR20 to CS zoning a portion of property located at 619 Due West Avenue, approximately 1,000 feet west of South Graycroft Avenue (0.05 acres), as being Part of Property Parcel No. 028 as designated on Map 051-00 of the Official Property Identification Maps of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, all of which is described by lines, words and figures on the attached sketch, which is attached to and made a part of this ordinance as though copied herein.

    Section 2. Be it further enacted, that the Metropolitan Clerk is hereby authorized and directed, upon the enactment and approval of this ordinance, to cause the change to be made on Sheet No. 051 said Official Zoning Map for Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, as set out in Section 1 of this ordinance, and to make notation thereon of reference to the date of passage and approval of this amendatory ordinance.

    Section 3. Be it further enacted, that this ordinance take effect immediately after its passage and such change be published in a newspaper of general circulation, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

    Sponsored by: Michael Craddock

    View Sketch


    Introduced: February 3, 2009
    Passed First Reading: February 3, 2009
    Referred to: Planning Commission
    Planning & Zoning Committee
    Passed Second Reading:
    Passed Third Reading:


  3. Gotto will have the railroad paint the bridge and then sell spots for pretty new LED signs to be attached all across the river.

    How lovely it will be to see the reflection of LED signs in the muddy Cumberland.

    And just think, if the council members want to take an evening swim across the river they will be able to see in the dark using the light of the energy efficient LED signs.

  4. Well, Craddock did not draft the bill. The planning dept staff drafts all the rezoning bills for the council.

    Better luck next time.

  5. Wonder which council member wrote this post? Probably one of them involved with the entire fiasco.

    It is just like them to blame everything on someone else. It is never the fault of the councilman.

    We could ask the Planning Staff (which opposes the bill) if Mr. Cradock asked them to be sure and include the sign information. Perhaps it conveniently slipped his mind.

  6. First of all it would be great if you could spell the Councilmans name correctly, second of all is this all that we have to debate, is the economy not in the TANK......
    I have to ask what is so wrong with a Christian school having a sign in Memory of someone, wait I think I just answered my own question, Could this be because it is in fact a Christian school???

  7. Let's get one thing straight: I've never protested any school honoring the memory of someone and I'm not about to start. So, please do not twist this into a personal attack on a memorial.

    This is an attack on LEDs, and no school requires LEDs to honor someone's memory. Erect a sign. Fine. That's the schools business. But LEDs are a different can of worms, and one that Metro Planning sees as illegal. Now is breaking the law anyway to honor someone's memory?

    And there is no need to tell commenters on this subject that they should change the subject. I blog about the economy plenty, and if you want to comment on that, then by all means go find one of those posts. But LED billboards are significant to--as one council member put it--"thousands of Nashvillians."