The Richland Creek Watershed Alliance filed a lawsuit on Monday, asking a judge to overturn a decision by the Metro Board of Zoning and Appeals to allow a used car lot at 5501 Charlotte Pike.
The lawsuit, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court, claims the BZA made an incorrect ruling when they denied an appeal of a permit for Auto Masters to bring used car sales to West Nashville.
The RCWA argues that the BZA’s decision “results in a distinct and palpable injury to RCWA because it allows Auto Masters to open a new car lot without complying with current storm water standards.”
Current standards were put in place to improve the water quality in Richland Creek and reduce flooding in the area, according to RCWA’s lawsuit.
The property has been in the Carney family for nearly 70 years — and has primarily been a used car lot during that time, according to the BZA’s official order.
David M. Carney, who owns the 5501 Charlotte Pike lot, is also named in the lawsuit. Calls to Carney and the BZA seeking comment were not immediately returned.
In 2006, the Metro Council approved a new ordinance that disallowed used car lots to open in commercial zoning districts — but Tennessee state law allows for businesses to be grandfathered in when new zoning regulations are adopted.
Freeway Auto, who formally leased the lot, filed for bankruptcy in July 2008 and the lot went unused. The lot sat vacant for almost three years, until Auto Masters leased the property in May.
According to the alliance, the lot should have lost its ability to sell used cars when it went vacant, but BZA disagreed.
The board said that Carney clearly indicated there were no intents or “overt acts” on part of the owner to abandon the use of the lot for used car sales, so Auto Masters was permitted to rent the land.
Richland Creek Watershed is a stream that carries rainfall and snow melt into Richland Creek, which runs from Charlotte Pike, through Sylvan Park, to Belle Meade.
According to RCWA, the watershed is located in an urban area, which means the water doesn’t naturally infiltrate soil, but rather collects pollution and passes through chemically treated areas.
The Environmental Protection Agency listed Richland Creek as having “impaired waters” in 2010.