It must have been Eric Crafton night at Metro Council as the often-controversial member had a handful of proposals — most of which were deferred — on the Tuesday agenda.
Items the west Nashville Councilman proposed included an attempt to preserve the Tennessee State Fairgrounds and revoke Metro Council’s ability to appoint authorities.
An ordinance sponsored by Crafton that would require the 117-acre Tennessee State Fairgrounds property to be utilized in no other fashion that its current form has been deferred until the Feb. 16 Council meeting. Under the bill, uses would be limited to a fair, racetrack, expo center and storage facility for the Davidson County Election Commission.
According to Crafton, the plan is to schedule a public hearing on his fairgrounds bill once the proposed convention center debate concludes, which he said would allow citizens to voice their opinions on the issue.
Other items discussed at the meeting:
• The Council voted to defer indefinitely a memorializing resolution that would have asked the Metro Development and Housing Agency delay all condemnation hearings and eminent domain proceedings related to the propose $585 million convention center until approval of its finance plan.
Councilman Mike Jameson, the resolution’s chief sponsor, said he elected to move for indefinite deferral in deference to ongoing court hearings over the eminent domain proceedings that are taking place in Davidson County’s Third Circuit Court.
• Also, at the request of Jameson, the Council voted to defer a memorializing resolution that would have asked Council members to follow recommendations outlined by the nonprofit Neighborhoods Resource Center when hosting public gatherings to confer on potentially divisive issues, including the proposed convention center. The idea was to encourage balance and civility at future meetings.
Jameson, the bill’s sponsor, said the resolution became redundant after Council members Jerry Maynard, Megan Barry and Eric Cole sent a letter to the entire Council that called upon the same rules.
• By a vote of 25 to 11, with two abstentions, the Metro Council rejected a resolution filed by Crafton that would have asked the General Assembly to enact legislation to repeal state laws to create “authorities.”
For Crafton, at issue is Metro’s nine-member Convention Center Authority, which Mayor Karl Dean and his administration pushed –– and the Council approved –– after the state earlier this year passed a law that allowed such oversight bodies.
Part of the state law stipulated that general obligation bonds, which are supported by property taxes, not be used to fund a convention center project. If the Music City Center had relied on general obligation bonds then it could be subject to a public referendum, which Crafton supports.
As reported yesterday by The City Paper, Crafton still plans on filing a separate resolution for a referendum on the convention center, which would rely on the Council’s authority to call for an election to ascertain the will of Davidson County citizens.
Council attorney Jon Cooper believes the resolution would not be binding, as state law obligates the Council only authorized the Convention Center Authority to issue bonds for the project.