Wednesday, March 20, 2024

What happened at last night's council meeting

by Megan Podsiedlik, THE PAMPHLETEER NEWSLETTER, 20 MAR 2024 - Last Friday, William Cheek resigned from the Arts Commission amid a flurry of death threats. Though a handful of council members were prepared to give Cheek the boot this week, his decision, along with the deferral of the bill to establish the East Bank development and lease agreements, took much of the bite out of last night’s agenda. Nonetheless, the body still had a few items to bark about.


Midway through the meeting, the council passed a resolution giving several Metro departments permission to conduct a “comprehensive analysis” of the effects of density and zoning changes in Davidson County. The legislation was filed in response to the deluge of bills introduced under the NEST initiative, which blindsided both council members and Nashvillians when they were brought forward by at-large Councilmember Quin Evans Segall two months ago.

Though it will delay her legislation, Evans Segall added herself as a supporting sponsor on the resolution. That being said, the legislation appears to be less about community input and more about expert analysis. In fact, Councilmember Burkley Allen had Metro’s Assistant Director of Land Development, Lisa Milligan, explain how NEST is an extension of the NashvilleNext plan, an initiative which has already been vetted by Davidson County residents.

“...All of our decisions and the work that we do is grounded in NashvilleNext,” Milligan said to the council. “There was a huge amount of engagement that took place with NashvilleNext in regards to the overall community vision. And so that's definitely the backbone of all of the work that we do.”

In accordance with the deadline established by Councilmember Emily Benedict’s amendment to the resolution, departments’ analyses and recommendations must be submitted by March 31st, 2025.

While the council may be happy with their compromise, Mayor O’Connell seems a tad disappointed with how NEST was introduced. In an interview published by the Banner this morning, O’Connell supported “Looking at Nashville Next and applying lessons learned, but taking a similar approach to what NashvilleNext did where they went out all over the county and got tens of thousands of points of input about growth. I think this is a great time to go have that conversation. I don’t feel like that is what the NEST bills did. That was not the spirit in which they were offered.”


“I’m tired of thoughts and prayers,” Councilmember Sandy Ewing said after her resolution recognizing the anniversary of the Covenant shooting passed unanimously. Though the legislation honored the six victims and commended the bravery of both the school staff and the first responders, some council members felt it wasn’t enough. 

“I think we all wish that the Covenant community had not had to face this,” Ewing began. ”But they did. And their lives are forever changed.” After personally recognizing all of the victims that lost their lives, she divulged her disappointment with the state. “As a country, we have a gun problem,” Ewing explained. “...I would ask those who serve us at the state and federal level these questions: while we fund more CSOs in our schools, why are we not also funding more mental health professionals in schools? Why are we not working harder to control access to guns to curb gun violence?” 

“I call on every single person who occupies a position of power and influence at every single level— state, local, federal— to actually take action to make sure that we are honoring the memories of those who are lost,” added Councilmember Jeff Preptit. “Nobody in this country has to continue to be a victim of gun violence simply because of the influence of an outsized lobby.”

Councilmember Jacob Kupin rounded out the floor discussion by calling for gun reform: “How can we watch children die and do nothing? How can we claim thoughts and prayers, but not show actionable change…?”

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