Thursday, July 19, 2018

What happened at the July 17th Council meeting: Bill trampling property rights deferred again, call to divest investment in private prison firms passes, Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan delayed, ....

Above is the video of the Council meeting of July 17th.. To see my commentary on the agenda and a link to the agenda and the Council staff analysis follow this link.

Following the prayer and pledge there are a couple memorializing presentations and then candidates running for office get to introduce themselves, stating their name and office they are seeking. Following that, the Council takes up the confirmation of mayoral appointments to boards and commission and all are approved without discussion.

Public Comments begins at timestamp 20:30 in the video. This is new for the council. To speak one must sign up in advance and then may speak for two minuets on any topic. Five people take the opportunity to address the council. The first speaker slams Core Civic and denounces "systemic racism where incarceration has been aligned with profit." Following the first speaker there was a round of applause from the audience. I think the vice mayor should have banged the gavel and admonished the audience to refrain from applause, but she did not. The second speaker also spoke on the same topic urging the council to pass Resolution RS2018-1309. One speaker urges the council to not build the soccer stadium at the fairgrounds and gets emotional while speaking and says the plan for the stadium and ten acres mixed use development will kill the fairgrounds. Another speaker criticizes the MTA and says it is being mismanaged. The comment period is concluded at timestamp 32.

Resolutions: Only the resolution listed below is of much interest. Most are routine things and most pass on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1309 request that the investment committee of the Metropolitan Employee Benefit Board divest funds invested with entities engaged in the operation of private prisons. . Private prisons have become a liberal target but they save cities and states money and are usually safer and better managed than government prisons. CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, is a Nashville-based national private prison company. Memorializing resolutions express an opinion of the Council, are not signed by the mayor and have no force in law. However, since the Council is in a position to take stronger action if they wish, this resolution can have real impact. This carries more weight than when the Council opines on a national or state issue. Councilman Gilmore says private prisons violate human rights. Surprise, Surprise! It is revealed that Metro has no money invested in private prison companies and hasn't since 2016. The resolution is amended to say that in the future the city will not invest in companies that manage prisons. After some discussion, the resolution passes by a vote of 20 in favor, 3 against, 11 abstentions and 6 not voting. To see the discussion see timestamp 48:46 - 1:21:43.

Councilman Glover attempts to offer a resolution concerning the pending soccer related development at the fairgrounds.  I do not know the specific content of the resolution but Councilman Glover is a champion of the fairgrounds. To consider a late filed resolution requires unanimous approval to suspend the rules and there was objection, so his resolution was not considered.
Bills on Second Reading: The only bills of interest are three bills that were previously on Second Reading and deferred to this meeting.
Bill BL2018-1200 would require that if hotels or roominghouses accept cash payment, they must also accept at least one other form of payment such as check or credit cards. It passes on a voice vote.

Substitute Bill BL2018-1202 proposed new rules for scooter prompted by the

arrival of Bird Scooter here in Nashville. It would require new fees including a fee of $35 per scooter. This does a lot in addition to a money grab.. This is deferred one meeting at the request of the sponsor.

Bill BL2018-1203  which also deals with scooters, in-line skates, and roller skates is also deferred one meeting.

Bills on Third Reading:
The Ridge at Antioch
Bll BL2016-219 is the bill to trample private property rights and kill an affordable housing development. It is deferred one meeting. This bill would cancel an approved Planned Unit Development and down zone a persons property without their consent. This effort to pass this bill has been pending since June of 2016.

If this bill passes the State of Tennessee has threatened to withhold future tax credits used to help finance affordable housing developments. Should this bill pass and the owner wants to continue the fight, he probably has a winnable lawsuit to pursue.  This would most likely be considered a "taking" of property.  When government takes property the owner should be compensated and it should only be taken for a public purpose.  Government taking of property does not have to mean taking title.  To take away a right that one previously enjoyed may be a "taking" of property. It is shameful that this threat to take property continues to hang over the owner's head. This is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission and will require 27 votes to pass when it comes back up. For more on this story see this  link and this.
Bill BL2018-1099  is a disapproved zoning bill in Scot Davis' district. He substitutes the bill for a version approved by the Planning Commission and the bill passes.

Substitute BL2018-1139 (as amended) is the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan. It is deferred one meeting.  This has been worked on for a long time and is a complex bill.It would guide redevelopment around the Music City Star Donelson train stop and contains an affordable housing component. New authority from the state provides for this type of designation and this will be the first time that authority has been used.  This development hit a bureaucratic snag explained in this Tennessean article: $300M Donelson development stalled by oversight dispute.

Substitute Bill BL2018-1157  establishes a 50 foot floodway buffer along the Cumberland River and prohibits variances.  It passes. This is an attempt to address a real problem but this appears to me to be the wrong approach. If is not the nearness to the river bank that impacts flood potential but the elevation above the flood bank.

Bill BL2018-1182,  a disapproved zoning bill in Karen Johnson's district. It is deferred one meeting. 

Substitute Bill BL2018-1197 (as amended)
is withdrawn. This was for a food waste recycling facility that would "digest" food waste and turn it into mulch and compost. This would have been an innovative means of handling food waste and diverting it from landfills. There was community opposition to the location of the facility.

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