Bells Bend residents oppose state conservation bill

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 1:29pm

A strong majority of residents in the Bells Bend area oppose state legislation aimed at applying a rural conservation overlay to prevent development.

The opposition was revealed in poll results released by Rep. Gary Moore’s office on Tueday. Moore personally funded a poll of Bells Bend residents asking what they thought of state legislation to designate the area as a Rural and Agricultural Natural Resources Act (RANRA) community.

According to Moore’s office, 76 of the 99 respondents opposed the legislation. Moore sent the ballot to Bells Bend property owners in late March. The ballot was essentially a yes-or-no questionnaire asking property owners if they favored the legislation.

Designating the Bend as a RANRA community would have prevented new building on lots smaller than 10 acres in size and would have effectively downzoned the area to prevent the proposed $4 billion May Town Center development.

May Town Center is back on the agenda of the Metro Planning Commission eight months after it was deferred amid questions regarding its impact on traffic, infrastructure and downtown economy.

State Sen. Douglas Henry has indicated he would pull the legislation if it was made clear that most residents in Bells Bend were in opposition.

Bells Bend resident Sharon Work cautioned against interpreting the results of Moore’s poll to mean Bells Bend residents supported May Town Center. Work pointed out that there was significant lobbying against the legislation in the form of robocalls and mail pieces.

“I’d say a small percentage of those people (who voted in against the legislation) are really in favor of May Town,” said Work, who opposes the development. “There was nothing in that ballot that said you’re voting for or against May Town.

“I would say opposition is very steady, just as steady as it ever was.”

Tim Stewart owns more than 300 acres of farmland in the Bend and voted against the conservation legislation.

“I am not going to let anybody tell me what I can or can’t do with my property and that’s exactly what this would do,” Stewart said. “Those are my rights and my family’s rights.”

Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews, whose district includes Bells Bend, estimated last year that opposition to May Town Center was over 80 percent.

Stewart suggested that the results to Moore’s poll on the conservation legislation indicate support might be swaying the other way.

“I think most people are supportive of it who actually live in the Bend, I think this latest vote demonstrates that,” Stewart said.

18 Comments on this post:

By: dogmrb on 4/14/09 at 11:42

Those numbers don't make sense. Who did the poll and how were the respondents solicited?

By: JeffF on 4/14/09 at 12:01

I am thinking that the nosy neighbors to the north of Bells Bend have been representing themselves as Bell Bend Residents. Not In My Backyard has turned into Not In The Backyard Eight Miles Down The Road (NITBEMD). Glad to see someone actually sought out the opinion of real residents.

By: Richard_Lawson on 4/14/09 at 4:25

They mailed ballots to people. 198 went out ... 99 were returned with a response. So you had 99 who didn't care enough to respond.

By: imdyinhere on 4/15/09 at 5:14

"The idea that some tree hugger on the other side of the county resents their rights to control their property and to maximize its value is a myopic and an insulting"

Why yes, it's almost as myopic and insulting that someone in Bell Meade would resent their right to exploit and pollute the other side of town.

By: grapa on 4/15/09 at 7:30

We(the residents of Bells Bend) were not in on the initiation of this RANRA., Senate Bill 2217 or House Bill 2361. One person with money and influence pulled strings to attemp to get this slipped through.

We were told to vote to gauge support for the legislation. We VOTED with a 3 to 1 outcome against these bills. Approximately, 76% of our residents showed they did not like having their property rights taken from them.

We would have liked local representatives to make a public statement in our support, but all contacted chose not to speak out.

By: JeffF on 4/15/09 at 11:58

what are you talking about Ward?

By: Hoppesm on 4/15/09 at 1:49

TNReader... Really? I mean REALLY? Besides the fact your comment spits in the face of Democracy, The Republic, and logic itself it is plain ridiculous! So those that have more wealth have more say than their neighbor comfortable on the minuscule little plot they call Home??
Those monied whiners the next village over can continue whining because wealth and being landed dictating policy went out with monarchy and indentured servitude buddy.

It's foolish to think in a Metropolitan county of nearly 800,000 that is the center of a city twice that size that a handful of people should stop the progress for us all on the sheer basis it might disturb their bucolic wannabe plantation lifestyles. Democracy is not the rule of the masses but the rule of the right.

By: Demos on 4/15/09 at 2:28

Nice try, imho, but everyone knows that, among the property owners on the Bend, the vote was a proxy for the May Town Center project. There are obviously others in town who oppose the project for one reason or another, but it's clear that the Bend community is fine with it. The discussion may not end there, but it's a pretty damn significant showing of support (75%!) from the locals--- and completely undermines the perception of meanigful NIMBY opposition. The NIMBY group may be loud, but they are hardly numerous as shown by the outcome of tis vote.

By: grapa on 4/15/09 at 2:53

Wrdbrn, I usually can follow along with your play on words and humor, but......