Development ‘hijacks’ Bells Bend community plan

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 2:45am

Bells Bend residents have been working since October to develop a community plan that preserves the area’s landscape, but those plans may be water under the bridge thanks to the massive May Town Center proposal.

A meeting last night at the Scottsboro Community Center to discuss the community plan turned into a debate over development and growth as about a hundred residents turned out to voice their opposition to the project that could bring up to 5,000 residential units.

The idea for a community plan — which would include land-use guidelines for May Town Center or any other development — came out of several years of neighbors fending off projects such as Bell’s Landing, a subdivision project proposed in 2005.

“That process has been hijacked by the May Town Center,” said resident Sumter Camp. “Instead we’re talking about why we should accommodate a plan that is wholly inconsistent with everything that we’ve been talking about for two years.”

The May Town Center plan calls for 453 acres of the 1,434-acre site to be developed into a dense mix of office, residential and retail space that would drastically change the face of Bells Bend, which has been a low-density, rural area nestled in a curve of the Cumberland River.

Residents expressed concern Tuesday that they are now facing a debate not only over how to maintain the area’s rural character, but also on how to maintain Davidson County’s economic growth.

“We are unable to locate corporate campuses anywhere else in Davidson County,” said Jennifer Carlat, who works on Community Plans for the Metro Planning Department. She said the size of those campuses and the need to be close to downtown and to “executive housing” are all factors that can influence where major corporations relocate.

Developer Tony Giarratana is working with Bells Landing Partners, which is led by the May family. The family owns real estate around Nashville, including downtown properties Belle Meade Plaza and Belle Meade Office Park.

He said the Nissan North America headquarter relocation to Cool Springs is of a similar size to what would fit into Bells Bend. Projections on the development’s Web site estimate the $4 billion dollar project will create 40,000 jobs and contribute somewhere between $63.8 million to $99.5 million dollars in new tax revenue by the time the project is completed.

Giarratana did not make any comments during last night’s meeting, but afterwards, he also stressed the May Town Center project will preserve about 900 acres of greenspace.

“That is a very important consideration that seems to be missed in this dialogue… It’s a tremendous land area, and if I might add, Metro Nashville paid $12 million for the land that’s known as the Bells Bend Park.”

Residents, however, felt they should not have to sacrifice their neighborhood for the good of Metro’s or the state’s economy.

“You’re not going to find another one like it.” said George West referring to the Bells Bend community.

The community will continue working with the Metro Planning department to formulate a draft plan, which will be presented for comment in May.

If the Planning Commission adopts the community plan, any zoning changes, such as one for May Town Center, would have to reflect the community plan and be approved by the Metro Council.

That will take convincing of residents, many of whom like Jane Coble, said last night, “The minute this plan is approved, this community is dead.”

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By: WrdBrn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Christine's article is SPOT ON! Well except you can multiply it by a factor of at least the 100 ish residents who were blind sided. The Metor Planning Department pulled a first class, Oceans 11, Pedro Garcia (former Dir. of Schools who ran before he was fired), heist of the hearts and souls of the Scottsboro Community from Beaman Park to Bells Bend. It was appalling.The people in that community have dug in before. I expect no less this time. If you want to dig further I recommend http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/Nashville-f250.html there are nuances everywhere that suggest the voice of the people to direct the future of the city they live in is a sham, and will be silenced.

By: Tallpaul on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The people of Bells Bend! Good luck and keep fighting. When people move to Nashville and Middle Tennessee, they talk of the beauty and landscape and the fact that people have an acre of land rather than what they were use to in leaning out their windows and knocking on their neighbors window to get a cup of sugar or to shoot their neighbor.Keep fighting and never stop. If you let them get one acre, they will not stop there.

By: Nashville Voter on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I have read the stories on May Town and looked at there Web site. This is a great idea. We need the taxes (see the budget yesterday)and I for one am tired of every business saying thee are coming to nashville and really coming to Cool Springs.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't understand why Nashvillians are so concerned about companies moving to Cool Springs, Brentwood, and Franklin. Those areas, IMO, are considered Nashville. I don't look at those areas as separate cities. Yes, they may get the property taxes, but Davidson county residents are still employed by many of the companies located in these communities. I know several Nissan employees that own homes in Davidson county and don't plan to move once the new Nissan headquarters is open. Personally, I hope Nashville stays small. I don't want to live in a big city anymore. As far as the topic at hand, I hope this May Town Center project fails. I hate to see such a beautiful area turn into traffic congestion, pollution, crime, etc. I don't understand why the May family isn't focused on building in the downtown core? That is where they should be focusing their development efforts on. It just makes sense to do that.

By: grapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Good morning WrdBrn,Apologies for the comments made by others yesterday, it is not what is needed when discussing important issues concerning things we often emotionally feel very strongly about. This should be respected an personal attacks are out of place. I am currently re-reading the material handed out last night to be sure of my facts before commenting. My position remains that dialogue is good and there is enough information on the table to came to a meeting of the minds.

By: ConnecttheDots on 12/31/69 at 6:00

May Town developers are working with the community to gather input from residents and are listening to concerns. Nashville has a pressing need for economic development in Bells Bend, but there is also a need for environmental preservation. Developers recognize that.Let’s not forget only 453 acres of the 1434-acre plan will turn into office space/homes. When comparing to the 16000+ acres comprising Bells Bend, less then 3% of the area will actually be developed. The rest is greenspace.It’s unrealistic for the future of Nashville to keep an area only five miles from downtown completely undeveloped. Nashvillians need to be concerned about companies, like Nissan, moving to Cool Springs, Brentwood, etc, because the city/county is missing out on those tax dollars. That money pays for schools and public safety in outlying counties and is a loss for Davidson.

By: forlinjd on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It's the economy, stupid . . . As destructive as this project will be to the long-term quality of life of Nashville residents, and as ignorant as it is to develop on greenfields when the core and immediate vacinity are prolific with underutilized properties, this project will come to fruition if it's up to Metro.Look around: oversized traffic-clogged highways, monolithic utility lines, meager transportation choices, and an all together unsightly built environment is evidence that Metro places aesthetics and social quality after economics.

By: b_ellen on 12/31/69 at 6:00

“We are unable to locate corporate campuses anywhere else in Davidson County,” said Jennifer Carlat, who works on Community Plans for the Metro Planning Department. She said the size of those campuses and the need to be close to downtown and to “executive housing” are all factors that can influence where major corporations relocate. "BIG, HAIRY DEAL! We should make appropriate use of what we have already without adding more to the chaos mix. I do not want to pay for the bridge. I do not want to see this area irrevocably ruined.

By: WrdBrn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Just on a note, does anyone know how many of the Giarantara Executive staff pay Davidson County Property Taxes, or have kids in metro schools... just a though...connect the dots... you need to look deeper. On the surface it makes leaders salivate... the facts are that it will just tear up another piece of land while they get to ignore the other disasters that need attention. Everyone wants to drive a new car off the show room floor; however there comes a point that a set of new tires and a tune up is better for the budget - in in the long run probably the environment... I type again for the zillionth time it is about STEWARDSHIP of what we have.

By: WrdBrn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

*** grrr... computer issues it posted before I spell/language checked... ***

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't understand, if the city needs additional taxes and more office space, why do they put limitations on the number of stories/height on the buildings being built downtown? There have been several developers wanting to build taller building, but the city almost always reject the proposal. It doesn't make much sense to me.I see Atlanta in the making, which is NOT a good way to develop a city.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Is that id in the red cap??

By: tim4wsp on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Along with the growth and tax revenue, will come cost of infrastructre. If the people of scotsboro wish to keep the land free from development, they should take the initiative and raise the money needed to pay for it. Jane Coble should be the one to lead the charge. Her husband could probably write a check for half the money needed.

By: grapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Stewardship? or personal agenda?I will stand by the assertion that this dialogue will develop into a succeeful product. I have seen what some would say was 'wafering',(sp) but I see it as looking at the 'bigger landscape' and not just the 'hill' in front of you.Curious? How many have read the presentation handed out BY the planning commission last night? WrdBrn, if you were there I saw you, but did not recognize you.Most of the worries that have been brought up were addressed along with picutres and explanation. Can anyone tell me if TG saw these handouts or imformataion before we, the public,