Monday, August 20, 2018

What else is on the Council agenda of 8/21/18: Effort to trample property rights and kill affordable housing continues, regulatng Bird, the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.

The most important issue before this council is the MLS stadium and the future of the fairgrounds. There are two resolutions and two bill regarding these issues on the agenda. I have explained those in a separate post at this link.

Bill BL2016-219  is on Third Reading, again. It was on third reading last meeting and deferred.

The Ridge at Antioch
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 their consent. This effort to pass this bill has been pending since June of 2016  If was first pushed by Karen Johnson and is now being taken up by Councilman Bedne.

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 guess that with the threat of this hanging over the head of the developer, that it impacted the financing. 

Should this bill pass and the owner want 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. If this passes and a public interest law firm wants to sue the city on behalf of the owner, I will contribute to the cause. 

This is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission and will require 27 votes to pass. For more on this story see this  link and this.

Below is a summary of what else is on the agenda.

Elections and Confirmation: 
The Council will be electing a President Pro Tempore for a one-year term ending August 31, 2019.  This person conducts the council meeting in the absence of the Vice Mayor. Sometimes this is a coveted position and council members campaign for the seat.  

There are nine mayoral appointments to Boards and Commission before the Council for confirmation. Usually, these are confirmed without controversy, discussion or dissension. One is to the Human Relations Commission. This is an agency that serves little purpose other than to promote political correctness and should be terminated. Any legitimate functions this agency performs could be performed by other agencies and their advocacy for diversity, tolerance, and normalization of deviancy would more appropriately be preformed by private advocacy groups.  I wish a council member would take to the floor and vote against the nominee and make the point I just made, but I don't expect it to happen.

Public Comment Period:  This is new for Nashville and is only the second meeting which has had a public comment period. Time  is dedicated to allow members of the public who have registered in advance to speak upon matters related to the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County community. The only public comments we have had heretofore have been on zoning matters and, once a year, on the budget.  We have never had an open comment policy. This is common in smaller cities and I don't know how common it is in other cities the size of Nashville.  I expect to hear several people speak in favor of the proposed police citizen review board at this meeting. I hope proponents of saving the fairground have registered to speak and take advantage of this opportunity.

Resolutions: There are 18 resolution on the agenda including the two resolutions concerning the MLS stadium.  Initially all resolutions are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes unanimously the committees to which it is assigned. Resolutions which receive negative votes in committee are pulled off of consent. Also any councilman may have a resolution pulled off of consent. Those remaining on consent are lumped together and passed by a single vote. Resolutions on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government, entering into inter-agency agreements over mundane things, appropriating money from the 4% fund, settling lawsuits, or approving signs overhanging the sidewalk. Here are the resolution of interest:
Resolution RS2018-1314 proposes six charter amendments to be submitted to the voters for ratification. This will take 27 votes to be approved. Each amendment has to be voted on individually and then the resolution has to be voted on.  This was on the Council meeting last time but was deferred.  Unless this passes tonight, there will not be enough time to pass this bill in time for the referendum to be placed on the November ballot. Here is what is in the resolution:
  •  Three of the proposed charter amendments are related the line of succession for the office of mayor and how a vacancy is filled.
  •  The fourth proposed amendment would require oaths of office for mayor, vice mayor, and members of council to include an oath to uphold the Charter of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville. Currently, such oaths reference only support of the Tennessee Constitution and the Constitution of the United States.
  • The fifth proposed amendment would change the term limits for the offices of councilman and councilman at-large from two (2) terms to three (3) terms. It would also change “councilman” to “councilmember.” The attempt to expand term limits has been tried before and rejected by the voters. 
  • The sixth proposed amendment would update the Metropolitan Charter with general neutral references in place of masculine-only pronouns. References to “he” would be changed to “he or she,” “his” would be changed to “his or her,” “him” would be changed to “him or her,” “councilman” would be changed to “councilmember,” and “policemen”would be changed to “police officers.” I oppose this. amendment. A "councilman" can be a female and a policeman can be a female policeman. I see no need to make this change. Also, I understand that the masculine singular pronoun may include females. If someone says, "Everyone brought his own lunch," I do not assume that the group only included males. I see no need to change the language to the awkwardly worded "he or she." 
Bills on First reading: There are six bills on first reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda and they are not considered by committee until after they pass first reading. They are all lumped together and pass by a single vote except in rare circumstances. I normally don't read them until they get to second reading.
Bills on Second Reading: There are eight. None are terribly important. Here are the ones of some interest.

Bill BL2018-1190  would provide free parking at public parking meters in Davidson County for environmentally friendly vehicles and for vehicle owners that purchase carbon offsets. This modifies what is already a law. I don't oppose this modification but in my view we should not have such a program. If you can afford an environmentally friendly vehicle you don't need free parking and a lot of carbon off sets are nothing but a scam. However in 2017 only 140 vehicles applied for this program.

Substitute Bill BL2018-1203 (as amended)   is a bill to distinguish non-motorized scooters and things like in-line skates from motorized scooters. Last council meeting the Council passed a detailed bill on second reading to address motorized scooters such as Bird. This just makes it clear that what was passed to apply to Bird and similar scooters does not apply to manually operated scooters and other non-motorized devices.

Bill BL2018-1294  changes the construction noise ordinance and makes what has just applied to downtown, apply anywhere in the county. 
Bills on Third Reading: There are 26. Most are approved zoning bills. 
Second Substitute Bill BL2016-414  is a disapproved zoning bill to change the zoning on 5.8 acres from R6 to SP for property in Scott Davis's district. I have no opinion on the merits of the bill and am simply calling attention to it because it is a disapproved bill and will take 27 positive votes to pass.

Substitute BL2018-1139 (as amended) is the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan.   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. It provides for TIF financing and contains a lot of land use regulations that go beyond normal zoning. 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. I assume that has now been resolved.  or this would not be back on the agenda. This bill is to be amended on third reading. For more on this complex bill, see the lengthy staff analysis. At the last meeting, this bill was  amended on third reading to change the composition of the advisory board. This bill was deferred by a roll call vote over the objection of the sponsor.

Second Substitute Bill BL2018-1202 (as amended)  would regulate "shared urban mobility devices," such as bicycles and scooters, and if establish a permitting system for them. This was prompted by the arrival of Bird Scooter in Nashville. This would establish a one-year pilot program for the scooter, impose a lot of cost, including a $35 per scooter and a whole lot of regulation. My view is that this is overkill.

Bill BL2018-1280 would regulate "shared urban mobility devices," such as bicycles and scooters, and if establish a permitting system for them. This was prompted by the arrival of Bird Scooter in Nashville. This would establish a one-year pilot program for the scooter, impose a lot of cost, including a $35 per scooter and a whole lot of regulation. I initial reaction is that this is overkill. When on second reading there was a lot of discussion and it passed on a voice vote.
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site and you can watch it live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary

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