Saturday, August 11, 2018

Bill 2016-219 to trample property rights and kill an affordable housing project deferred again.

The Ridge at Antioch
At last Tuesday night's council meeting bill Bill BL2016-219 on Third Reading was deferred yet again. This is the bill to trample private property rights and kill an affordable housing development in the process. This bill would cancel an approved Planned Unit Development and down zoning a persons property without his consent. This effort to pass this bill has been pending since June of 2016.  Karen Johnson is the sponsor. Councilman Bedne has handled the bill in Karen Johnson's absence.  There are several other council members listed as co-sponsors. The bill was disapproved by the Planning Commission and will require 27 votes to pass.

If this bill passes, the State of Tennessee has threatened to withhold future tax credits used to help finance affordable housing developments. I don't know why this development has not already occurred.  I can only guess that with the threat of this down zoning hanging over the head of the developer, that it has impacted the financing. I have called the law firm listed as the agent for The Ridge at Antioch hoping to get some insight but have not received a reply.

Should this bill pass and the owner wants to continue the fight, he may have a winnable lawsuit to pursue.  If a public interest law firm wants to join the suit, I will make a contribution to the cause. This rezoning would most likely be considered a "taking" of property.  The Fifth Amendment to the constitution says, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."  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.  If you owned a lot you were planning to build a house on and the government rezoned the property to where nothing could be build on the property, you would still hold title but the right to use the property would have been taken.

There is a limit to how often a bill can be deferred. I do not know if this bill has reached that limit or not.  That this threat to downzone this property has been hanging over the owner's head for over two years and is still, is a disgrace.  Johnson and Bedne may win even it this bill never is passed. A lot of  factors are involved in arranging financing for a project, especially a project that is trying to build affordable housing. Simply keeping this threat hanging over the head of the owner may be sufficient to kill the development. Also, the market may change and the developer may be able to make more money by building upscale housing as opposed to building affordable housing. This is a shame.

For more on this story see this  link and this.

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