What: Public Hearing at Metro Planning Commission - MPC will vote to allow or disallow subdivision. There will be an opportunity for public comment.Where: Sonny West Conference Building (1st Floor)700 2nd Ave S.When:
WedThu Feb 27th 4:00PM
After attending the Whites Creek community meeting last week I decided to support rural opponents of a suburban sprawl development of over 40 homes across 11 acres just outside of northern Briley Parkway.
It is unfortunate enough that their council representative, Walter Hunt, has not made efforts to support Whites Creek residents in formulating a community plan consistent with their priorities and the community's character. It is also unfortunate that the planning staff is going to recommend that the Planning Commission (which I am told has a developer-bias unlike any previous commission) approve this sprawl plan.
Oddly enough, the big thing in planning at the moment is "New Urbanism," which emphasizes reducing car trips, creating walkable neighborhoods, maintaining safer streets. Metro Planning Director Rick Bernhardt not only serves in the Congress of New Urbanism, but he was a signatory of the original charter. This proposal does not seem to fit with New Urbanism at all. Expanding relatively unwalkable suburbia will only increase car trips and traffic on the roads what will lead to unsafer streets.
But Metro Planning supports this because it fits with the designated "use" and with the zoning, both of which could have been informed by a community plan, which has been refused to Whites Creek. Instead, Whites Creek was folded in with Bordeaux for a plan that was last updated in 2003. Lumping rural and suburban areas into one outdated plan is an invitation to encourage the growth of suburbia, not the preservation and smart growth of rural communities.
Those of you who have returned to this blog over the years know that I was an energetic supporter of preserving rural Bells Bend against developers' plans to build "a second downtown" with a corporate campus across its remote, rolling pasturelands. I am told by community leaders there that Metro Planning does not always grasp the priorities of "preservation and limited development" in rural areas.
That may be the case in Whites Creek, too. Maybe Metro Planning just cannot see anything but the inevitable march of suburbia northward. Or maybe they do see it and prefer to bow to the clout of developers and lawyers instead. Either way, the community does not seem to be sitting back and taking it. They are organizing and writing council members and the Planning Commission with these goals in mind:
- Do not allow Ole South to develop this land into a subdivision on the grounds that is out of Whites Creek’s rural character. Seeing a subdivision as soon as you get off Briley Parkway onto White Creek pike will irreversibly change the value and character of our neighborhood. We want to remain a rural residential and agricultural area north of Briley Parkway, not suburbia.
- No more subdivision developments or re-zonings until we have a revision of our Community Design Plan. Our community plan is 10 years old and our community deserves the opportunity to plan for growth the way other neighborhoods have.
- Nashville has made a commitment to open space preservation and environmental sustainability. The Whites Creek watershed is the cleanest watershed in Davidson County and subdivisions such as the one proposed increase soil erosion and contributes to flooding due to clear cutting of trees....
- Local food and farming is of increasing importance and Whites Creek can be a critical food hub for the city. We have an emerging agrarian economy here in Whites Creek with 15 farmer and friends of farmers that make up the Whites Creek Farmers Alliance.
- The proposed subdivision is of low quality. The selling price will be 40% lower than the average new home price in Nashville and 32% lower than the average new home price in the Whites Creek area. Parmley Cove, the most recent development, has only 3 homes built so far due to lack of market demand and the clear cutting of trees has caused run off and flooding of neighboring homes. The sidewalk is already broken. It is a blight and an eye sore. These subpar developments will only lower our property values.
The last three points are also relevant to me as one of their urban neighbors. When it comes to the environment, all of us live within a web of interdependence. Whites Creek eventually flows to the Cumberland River. If Whites Creek is polluted, it adds to the pollution of the Cumberland. Also, we need more, not less, green space to enjoy the benefits thereof. How much more expensive is it to remediate brown fields for new green space rather than leaving that which is already open untouched?
Bells Bend has become a hub for produce, particularly for hops grown for use by the local brewers at Yazoo. Why would Nashvillians want to cut themselves off from more sources of fresh produce in Whites Creek? We should be promoting local farmers and CSAs over suburban sprawl.
|The new broken Parmley Cove sidewalk|
There are two other reasons why an urban resident like me supports Whites Creek opponents of Ole South developers (who own 100 more Whites Creek acres beyond the proposed development). One is that a new suburban development will be a greater source of competition for Metro services and infrastructure in an era of shrinking Metro budget returns to communities. Do you notice how Nashville is said to be growing and expanding with the justification that the tax base also increases? Yet, we are unable to fund more after all of this growth. The Mayor seems to demand budget cuts to services every year. So, why should we believe that yet one more suburban development is going make a difference? How will it be anything else but more competition with other neighborhoods for transit lines, schools, parks and libraries?
Finally, supporters of suburban sprawl should not enjoy the opportunity to disqualify Whites Creeks residents as "just being NIMBY." That is a tired old slander that usually does not represent what people really think. The preservation of Bells Bend was made more legitimate by support from neighbors from all over Nashville. I listened to the people of Whites Creek make their case against Ole South firsthand. I was persuaded that their cause is anything but NIMBY. They can use other voices, even voices from the urban core neighborhoods, supporting their cause to keep the developers from at the very least impugning their motives. At most, neighbors should have more influence over the future growth of their community.