Matthews ponders May Town Center future

Friday, June 26, 2009 at 3:50pm

Now that the Planning Commission has given the May Town Center proposal a higher hurdle to clear on Metro Council, the rezoning bill’s sponsor is left to mull his next move.

District 1 Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. said Friday he didn’t yet know what he would do when the bill came back up for a vote. The May Town Center rezoning bill for rural Bells Bend will be on second reading at the July 7 Council meeting.

The bill needs 27 votes on Council to advance, because the Planning Commission voted to disapprove the rezoning at its Thursday meeting. Matthews conceded the controversial bill would face an uphill battle to receive 27 votes.

Matthews said all options were on the table, including deferring the bill, letting the public hearing go forward, or perhaps even withdrawing it altogether.

“There’s not a level of disappointment,” Matthews said. “I think the Planning Commission vote kind of reflected what you see in the community, it’s torn between two ideas, two visions and it was a really close vote either way.”

The rezoning failed after the Planning Commission didn’t approve a necessary amendment to the Scottsboro/Bells Bend detailed design plan. The amendment required six votes, but the commission was split 5-5.

Metro Planning Director Rick Bernhardt said the question for countywide planning going forward would be putting the priorities established by the highly anticipated vote into practice. Commissioners expressed a desire for prioritizing infill development and using existing infrastructure, but Bernhardt said those opportunities face opposition as well.

Earlier this week, the Green Hills community held a meeting concerning bringing a 308-unit mixed-use apartment development.

“I think the commission had a lot of good debate. I think the real issue is beyond this specific project,” Bernhardt said. “The issue is how do we do everything that was talked about tonight? How do we begin to have infill development, how do we make it easy to redevelop and to infill?

“Every project becomes a personal project that nobody wants. We had a meeting last night in the Green Hills area, in a location that was exactly what we're talking about, an infill location immediately adjacent to Green Hills that met everything that was talked about today, and the community doesn't want it.”

May Town Center developer Tony Giarratana called the Planning Department this morning following last night’s close vote by the Commission. There was some confusion, because the commissioners first rejected a motion to disapprove. That seemed to suggest the amendment to the detailed design plan would pass, but then commissioner Victor Tyler flipped and the motion did not receive the necessary six votes.

“They wanted to clarify the rules that applied to the vote last night,” Planning spokesman Craig Owensby said of the developers’ call to the department this morning.


8 Comments on this post:

By: ChickeringLife on 6/27/09 at 8:48

Councilmember Lonnell Matthews, please do what you feel is best, but I hope you continue to support the May Town Center development. WE NEED YOU! :) You did a fantastic job at the Planning Commission meeting.

By: grapa on 6/27/09 at 4:56

Mr. Matthews has given leadership on this iissue. By deferring it one year he deliberated the issue and allowed both sides to be educated on what could be the most beneficial move Nashville has ever seen.

At this time of hardship I do believe it to be time to be proactive and not to sit back and ride out the storm. We do need to take control of our own destiny and the future of Nashville.

Council District One deserves this to be allowed to move to the front of what is to come for Nashville. We are being driven by other individual council leaders to be taken for granted, not out of their concern for us, Council Didtrict One, Scottsboro nor Bells' Bend. They are demanding the city to meet their expectations. The city of Nashville is being held hostage by 8 Council members who staged a power play at the Planning Commisssion Meeting on June 25.

By: dogmrb on 6/28/09 at 9:35

Got to watch the whole meeting again last night. It's much more enjoyable when you know how it ends. The folks who are interested in the health of the whole region gave many very rational arguments for why Maybe Town is not a good investment at this time in Bells Bend. The suits talked as if they owned the county, the planning commission and the council. Yea, for democracy in action.

By: dleibacher on 6/29/09 at 6:02

dlynn I want to thank all the council members who spoke at the planning meeting opposing MTC. Nashville does not need to destroy the last rural part of Davidson county to accomodate developers. If the May brothers want to build, I think there is still room at Metrocenter, or maybe Bellevue mall.

By: BigPapa on 6/29/09 at 6:48

It would seem to me that we'd be better off bulldozing down: the entire Hickory Hollow Mall area, all of Dickerson Rd, the Fairgrounds, Bellview Mall and turning any of those big tracts of land over to any develpers that want a "corporate campus."
Why contribute to further sprawl?

By: shinestx on 6/29/09 at 8:50

I hope the Mays and Mr. Giarratana will consider bringing their $4 billion development to Hendersonville at Mansker Creek, right at the Sumner/Davidson County line. We need the jobs and more reasons to avoid leaving the county.

By: may not on 6/29/09 at 12:47

Responding to "grapa on 6/27/09 at 5:56: The city of Nashville is being held hostage by 8 Council members who staged a power play at the Planning Commisssion Meeting on June 25."

No, no, Tony. Quite the contrary. The City of Nashville is being *represented* by those eight council members. They did not stage a power play; rather, they banded together to show a united front in opposition to a well-funded PR campaign in its final hour. Those were not eight individuals speaking for themselves who frightened you so. It was that they spoke for so many constituents when they rose united.

I agree that it is time for you to be proactive. Honor your commitment to TSU to bring its research park to fruition, and do so now. Encourage your friends and neighbors to read about a legitimate community plan at Get them out to the Planning Commission meeting JULY 23 to watch it come to life.

The French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville said that in a democracy, we get the government we deserve.

By: shinestx on 6/29/09 at 1:45

Is it possible (or even likely) that the eight council members are the ONLY ones who would vote against this project? If that was all who were motivated to attend the Planning Commission, then that would leave 32 potential votes in favor, right? Of course, that's not the sort of information we'd expect to get from the local paper now, is it?