A proposed waste transfer station in Cleveland Park has neighbors up in arms and a councilman trying to clarify his position ahead of Tuesday's Metro Council meeting.
In a letter to fellow council members last week, Councilman At-Large Jerry Maynard came out strongly in support of a resolution that would recommend a Waste Connections facility be allowed at 1000 Apex St. in East Nashville.
"I believe that blighted urban areas that are filled with high volumes of crime, illegal dumping and abandoned buildings must be transformed into areas of commerce, safe neighborhoods and economic engines when the opportunity arises," he wrote.
But the councilman for the area where the facility would be located, District 5’s Scott Davis, told The City Paper that his district "overwhelmingly" opposes the move.
Confusing the matter even more is the fact that Davis said originally he had no position on the resolution — and sought Maynard's advice — before a series of neighborhood meetings led him to oppose it. Maynard's letter makes it sound as though Davis supported the project. And some neighbors are still angry that Davis' name is still attached to the resolution, something Davis said is a quirk of the council's resolution process. By remaining the sponsor, he said, he controls the resolution.
"The average citizen doesn't know that," he said. "If I don't take ownership of it, I can't control it. If I didn't sign it, it would have gone straight to the BZA (Board of Zoning Appeals). Then we would have a fight like they had in Bellevue. The Council is the best place to stop this."
"This" is a 100,000-square-foot warehouse, which Waste Connections would use as a drop-off point for small trucks hauling garbage. Up to 600 tons of waste would then be transferred to larger trucks and carried to a landfill in Kentucky. Area residents and neighborhood groups have been vocal in their opposition to the facility, citing concerns about traffic, smell, sewer lines and effects on property value. An online petition to oppose the project had received more than 500 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
"I've read the same letter you've read, which contains several inaccuracies," said Cleveland Park resident Sarah Martin. "Councilman Maynard isn't a resident in this district, so that's not surprising because he doesn't have a clear understanding of the bigger picture and the profoundly negative impact this facility will have on the growth of the surrounding area."
Maynard said that he's talked to a few residents who live closest to the project and he values their opinion over others who live further away from the warehouse.
"I met the residents who live adjacent to the Apex site and they complained about the crime that was going on and the illegal dumping," he said. "And so, when I was asked to support it, I agreed that if this company could come in and transform this site — it's already zoned industrial, it's an abandoned warehouse. This is not some undeveloped, pristine, undisturbed land. This is a warehouse, which has been abandoned, which is allowing crime and illegal dumping to take place."
Martin said that the traffic plan would trap portions of the neighborhood with trucks.
"We have numerous traffic concerns with the route that Waste Connections has mapped out and how narrow those streets are," she said. "There's the fact that McFerrin and Apex are the only streets that are the primary route in and out of a residential area. There are about five dead-end cross streets that run east to west and that is the only way those people get out of that neighborhood. We're talking 65 to 100 trucks a day, according to the information that was provided to us [at an informational meeting] on June 14."
Not a single hand of the more than 100 in attendance at that meeting was raised in support of the project, Martin said.
Maynard told The City Paper that he supports the project no matter the neighborhood's concerns or what Davis recommends at the Tuesday meeting.
"If the motion is for disapproval, I'll be voting no. If the motion is for approval, I'll be voting yes," he said.
Davis said he'll be "moving strongly for disapproval," putting him at odds with Maynard. "The people don't want this."