Despite concerns from city planners, the Metro Council proceeded ahead Tuesday in clearing the way for a proposed pick-a-part facility near Dickerson Pike and West Trinity Lane in East Nashville.
The council on the second of three votes approved a zone-change that would accommodate Chicago-based LKQ Corp. to construct a lot and facilities on hilly floodplain property at Lucas Lane where customers could come in and remove and purchase automobile parts as needed.
The Metro Planning Commission in June had voted unanimously to disapprove the zone-change after its staff determined the move wouldn’t be consistent with the area’s Neighborhood Urban land-use policy, which promotes housing, commercial and mixed-use development — not industrial uses such as a pick-a-part lot.
But the council Tuesday — by voice vote — advanced the zone-change forward at the request of Councilman Scott Davis, who represents the area and supports LKQ’s proposal. He said the majority of his constituents back the project, sentiments on display at a public hearing Tuesday that saw most speakers argue for the pick-a-part lot.
The plan heads to a final council vote later this month.
“It’s an area where it’s going to be hidden,” Davis said of LKQ’s plans, which he likened to a retail operation, not a junkyard. “You won’t see anything. And it’s going to increase the tax revenue.
“I need jobs,” Davis said of his support, referring to the high unemployment rate of his District 5. He added that the rocky terrain of the property at issue wouldn’t accommodate housing anyways. “Before you judge this, I ask people to go up there and look at the site.”
LKQ, which operates nearly 300 facilities nationwide, recently expanded its corporate support facility to Grassmere Park in Nashville, bringing 230 jobs to the area.
LKQ’s site plan for Lucas Lane — which extends south off West Trinity Lane near Dickerson Pike — calls for a 3,600-square-foot retail building and a 15,000-square-foot retail and maintenance shop. The plan identifies 1,684 spaces where automobiles would be stored in rows.
Davis said the facility would not be allowed to store vehicles for more than 60 days. At that point, automobiles would be crushed on site and shipped to a recycling facility.
A handful of Nashvillians Tuesday voiced opposition to LKQ’s pick-a-part lot, arguing the lot would bring an unwanted operation to an area that has attracted residential development in recent years. The Metro Development and Housing Agency is in the process of constructing a 72-unit affordable housing development just down the road on Dickerson.
Michael Douglas, owner of Charlie Bob’s Restaurant on Dickerson, said he’s seen more businesses move to the lower end of the corridor in recent years than at any point in his life. He said LKQ provides an important service, but that Dickerson Pike area already has four scrap yards.
“In 50 years, I don’t want this to become an eyesore like PSC,” referring to the sprawling PSC Metals Inc. plant on the east bank of the Cumberland River. “We just don’t need that.”
In other business:
• The Metro Council approved an amended “4 percent fund” resolution that withholds $400K the Davidson County Election Commission had originally planned to use to expand electronic poll books to all Nashville voting precincts.
The council will revisit the expenditure at its next meeting.
Some council members had proposed withholding these funds to await findings from an audit on the recent August election in which the electronic polls had come under fire. Earlier Tuesday, the election commission had already voted to delay the use of the next technology during the upcoming November election.