Sunday, March 31, 2013

What is on the Council Agenda for Arpil 2nd.

You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. You can find the analysis at this link: Metro Council Agenda Analysis. Council meetings can be really, really boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on. With an agenda and analysis, they are just boring.

There are only three bills on public hearing. The first one is a local zoning issue which should be of no interest except to the immediate neighbors. ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-394 adds community education as a permitted use in three additional categories of commercial zoning. This would encourage infill development and the adaptive reuse of existing vacant buildings. ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-395 approves a settlement agreement with Comcast and approves a new cable franchise agreement with Comcast. This new agreement covers a lot of ground. If one wants to know more, see the analysis.

There are seventeen resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is likely to be non-controversial and it stays on the consent agenda if it passes the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. However, any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. I do not expect any to be pulled off of the consent agenda. I don't see any controversial resolution and would not expect any opposition. However, there are two bills that worth being aware of that I hope are given scrutiny in committee.

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-633 appropriates $11,054,900 in supplemental appropriations to various departments to balance their fiscal year 2012-2013 operating budgets. It is normal to do a supplemental appropriation in the spring, however this is a lot of money. It is larger than normal because of the cost of the early retirement buy-out program, which has upfront cost but will save Metro money in the long run.

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-640 allows Metro to accept certain incomplete infrastructure located within the River Landing subdivision left incomplete by the developer. The cost to complete this infrastructure is estimated to be $489,560. Metro has sued the developer and collected $54,000, yet Metro will be stuck with the balance. I hope that in committee, Council has been reassured that changes have been put in place so that Metro will not be left holding the bad in future developments. 
Bills on First reading almost always pass. There are sixteen bills on first reading. They are considered as a group and are seldom discussed. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading. I have not carefully reviewed the bills on first reading, but will before second reading. 

Bills on Second Reading. It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. There are eight bills on second reading. None of them seem terribly important but below is one worth noting:
  • BILL NO. BL2012-292 is back on the agenda. This is the bill that would liberalize the policy on home recording studios. It adds a new land use specific to home recording studios and would permit studios to have up to ten clients, customers, musicians, or other visitors come to the property per day. Sufficient off street parking would have to be provided and home recording studios would be subject to the residential noise restrictions in the Metro code. The ordinance would retain the existing prohibition on signage. This issue was before the council on public hearing on December 4th, 2012 when it generated a lot of comment. To see that public hearing follow this link. There is a proposed substitute for this ordinance making home recording studio a separate accessory use from other home occupations and clarifying that home recording studios would be permitted in accessory structures. There could be some discussion of this bill. I don't know if this is the perfect bill or not, but this being Music City, I think it is proper that we accommodate the people with home recording studios. We should encourage and support the music industry. 

Bills on Third Reading: Third Reading is the final reading. If a bill passes third reading it becomes law unless it is vetoed by the Mayor, which has only rarely happened. There are not any controversial bills on third reading. The following bill I do not expect to generate controversy but they are worth mentioning.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-381 by Councilman Tygard would require periodic reports regarding the energy and water savings from Metropolitan Government buildings and facilities constructed using sustainable building principles and practices. This report would determine if LEED certified building are saving any money over non-LEED certified buildings of similar size. This seems like a good move. We need solid data to determine if the cost of expensive energy efficiency measure pay for themselves or if they are just feel-good measures. 
  • BL2013-388 repeals the local residency requirement for liquor store owners. The Tennessee Attorney General recently opined that the residency requirement violates the U. S. Constitution because it discriminates against interstate commerce. This opinion is based on a recent ruling in a similar matter. 
  •  BL201-390 would require that parking lots and garages used for special event parking place a sign indicating the fee to be charged for such special event parking at the entrance of the parking lot or garage. That sounds reasonable to me.
There are no memorializing resolutions on this agenda.

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