Saturday, September 28, 2013

Compromize massive Gallatin Rd rezoning on Council agenda Tuesday

A compromise has been reached over the controversial proposed mass rezoning along East Nashville’s Gallatin Pike. The current proposal which will be on the Council agenda on Tuesday would now allow property owners to “opt in” to the new urban-inspired guidelines during future development. This is a much more flexible Urban Design Overlay than was proposed in August which resulted in deferral of that bill.

The Planning Commission voted September 26, 2013, to approve rezoning of various properties along Gallatin Pike, Gallatin Avenue, and Main Street between South 5th Street and Briley Parkway from about a dozen different zoning classifications to the new Urban Design Overlay (UDO) over that same area.  That new zoning supports a more pedestrian- and transit-oriented corridor, as described in the East Nashville Community Plan. Under the new UDO if, when property is redeveloped, the developer decides not to build to the sidewalk property line they will not be required to do so but must meet alternative design criteria. At the September 26 planning commission meeting, no one spoke in opposition to the rezoning.

Based on what I know of the current plan, I think it is a good compromise. I support efforts to encourage smart growth and urban design but think the previous plan was too inflexible would have been excessively heavy-handed and would have actually discouraged development. Two years ago Publix was going to build a grocery store on Gallatin Rd but backed out due to the inflexibility of  the then in place overlay design guidelines (link). Since then the Overlay was ruled unconstitutional. To fix the legal issue, the city simply tweaked the law to make it legal but intended to essentially keep the same guidelines. Now they appear to have come up with a more reasonable approach.

Last council meeting, the council passed a zoning text change that described the new zoning, the bill on this agenda Tuesday night actually rezones the property. To read more on this controversy see this link

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