Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Planning Opposes Gilmore's Request to Rezone Residential Property to Arbitrary "SP"

On Thursday District 19 CM Erica Gilmore brings a request to the Planning Commission to rezone from One and Two-Family Residential to Specific Plan-Mixed Use zoning property located on 19th Avenue, North at Pearl Street to permit an office and one single-family dwelling unit. Metro planners are recommending disapproval:
The proposed SP is not consistent with the North Nashville Community plan's SFD (single family detached) in NU (neighborhood urban) land use policy. The policy was adopted in the Watkins Park Detailed Neighborhood Design Plan and is intended to maintain the existing single-family residential character of development within the policy boundary from further encroachment of non-residential uses ....

This policy area is eligible to become a locally-designated historic overlay district because it is identified by the Metro Historical Commission as containing a collection of single-family properties that are labeled as "Worthy of Conservation." Additionally, this policy area is located between two Metro Public Schools, Head Middle School and Martin Luther King Jr. High School and would maintain a residential presence surrounding these schools.

Salemtown's first experience with SP zoning has not been a good one. And there are indications elsewhere that what was meant to be rare and "special" is quickly becoming overused and abused:
Much of the justification for creating SP Zoning was to deal with unique problem situations such as rebuilding the Eastland area of East Nashville following the tornado, dealing with an overabundance of auto related businesses along Nolensville Rd, and creating innovative ways to deal with blighted areas in need of rehabilitation. Since its introduction, however, it appears to have become the Planning Department’s favorite tool to introduce “urban design elements” into neighborhoods ....

By its nature SP Zoning can be used to approve any project that is deemed appropriate at a single point in time.
  • It inherently lacks the ability to see what long term consequences may come from the project.
  • It also takes away set standards of what is allowed to be done with a specific parcel of land.
  • One additional aspect of SP is very clear – it is utilized as a method to significantly increase density.
  • Approving one SP Project simply opens the door to consideration of other projects of similar nature.
I'll be interested to see what kind of community support this project has in the Watkins Park area. I haven't heard of any community meetings being held for Gilmore's proposed rezoning. The troublesome part of this is not just that "Special Plan" zoning is being introduced in what has become a regular trend, but that it is being introduced to get around a residential neighborhood plan for an area that could qualify for conservation zoning. I cannot come up with a good reason to disagree with the Planning Department and support Erica Gilmore on this one.

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