The Metro Planning Commission's meeting Thursday night served as the scene for the latest round in the battle for the future of Bells Bend as the commissioners hosted a public meeting on May Town Center.
Featuring presentations by the development’s supporters and opponents, the meeting was largely an opportunity for those parties to reiterate the same points they've expressed all along — with one exception.
Following his endorsement of the project the previous day, Councilman Lonnell Matthews had his first opportunity last night to make public comments on May Town.
Acknowledging his initial suspicion of the project due to the unknown economic variables involved, Matthews said developers have answered his questions and that the economic benefits of the project will boost the future of the overall region.
“Nashville and the surrounding five-county region are posed to capture more corporate relocations which will bring high-paying jobs, higher tax revenue and increased private investment to the area,” Matthews said. “In order to compete … we must reposition ourselves and get back in the game.”
However, Matthews did say his support for May Town Center is “conditional.”
“I want the developers to know that they have a commitment to the city of Nashville to keep their promises.”
Among the opposition speakers, attorney David Briley made a case against the project with a reality check for Davidson County in terms of the feasibility of competing for the high-profile corporate tenants May Town looks to attract.
“Davidson County and Williamson County are not identical,” Briley said. “We wish, frankly, that we had the quality of schools that they have there. We don't. We wish we could keep the taxes as low as they have. We can't and we haven't. Those are competitive disadvantages for us when it comes to certain types of corporate relocations.”
Sumter Camp, an assistant federal defender and Bells Bend landowner, also spoke on behalf of the opposition. In favor of the project, Giarratana and members of his development team highlighted the plan's benefits to the community and region.
Matthews was not the only Metro Council member to speak, nor the only one to speak in favor of the project. Walter Hunt, Michael Craddock and Buddy Baker voiced their support for the project. On the flip side, Emily Evans, Jason Holleman and Mike Jameson all spoke against May Town.
The next public meeting in the May Town debate will take place June 3 at the Hermitage Police Precinct at 3701 James Kay Lane.