Waste transfer facility emerges as campaign issue in council race

Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 10:05pm

A proposed waste transfer facility has become a campaign issue in the Metro Council’s hotly contested District 20 race, with one challenger calling the proposal “another apparent backdoor deal” by her incumbent.  

But Metro Councilman Buddy Baker, campaigning to hold onto the West Nashville-area seat, said he’s simply trying to allow a company build a new recycling facility that would be entirely covered, under a council resolution he has sponsored. Waste Services of Tennessee would operate the center, which requires a special exemption use permit.

“They keep hollering, ‘Recycle, recycle, recycle,’ ” Baker said. “This company is going to put a state-of-the-art, fully enclosed waste transfer station down on Centennial Boulevard, way out there on the other side of Ford Glass Plant.

“To my understanding, she’s making it sound like that they’re going to put a dump out there,” he said. “It’s nothing like a dump whatsoever.”

Baker is referring to Mary Carolyn Roberts, one of two opponents he’s facing in the upcoming general election. Roberts emailed supporters Thursday morning alerting them to the proposal, which goes before the council next week on a single-vote resolution. 

“This is NOT something we want to put there,” Roberts wrote. “Nor is it something I imagine any of you have even heard was being proposed before now.”

Contacted by The City Paper, Roberts said the waste transfer facility is another example of constituents not having a voice.

“There’s been a series of things where we don’t know anything until it’s already there,” Roberts said. “That’s really frustrating. The second thing is, the waste treatment plant doesn’t need to be in the middle of a neighborhood.

“This had already come up a while back, and we shot it down,” she said. “Somehow, we’ve backdoored it in again.”

The facility would be located at 7320 Centennial Blvd. 

In a letter dated July 15 and addressed to Baker, Bob Watson, senior vice president of legal affairs and government relations for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, voices various concerns regarding the proposed operation. (Read letter here.) The authority's John C. Tune Airport is located near the site of the proposed waste transfer facility.

According to the council’s agenda, the council must “make a finding” that the proposed use is consistent with specific requirements outlined in the Metro Code. The council has 60 days to approve or disapprove the facility.

Baker said the proposal requires “no zoning changes whatsoever.”

“There’s no backdoor deal,” Baker said when told of Roberts’ email. “I’m not trying to run anything over on anybody. There shouldn’t have to be any meetings on this because there are no houses around whatsoever.”

Roberts said she would appreciate discussion on the resolution to help decide whether it’s the best move. 


This story has been updated.

28 Comments on this post:

By: jhr1925 on 7/15/11 at 5:22

This is just another typical Buddy move.........don't tell your District until it's already here! I'm ready to lose my Buddy. At least Mary Carolyn cares enough to tell us about it BEFORE it happens. She's the better choice in this election for sure.

By: District 20 Voter on 7/15/11 at 5:43

It is totally a typical Buddy move.

He has no idea or desire to create a healthy, walkable, enjoyable community.

His focus is on bringing more and more industrial projects to the area, which undoubtedly benefit his friends and business cronies.

What responsible councilman allows/encourages increased industrial development in a residential area and prominently featured adult bookstores in an election year?!?!?!?

One that either doesn't know how to improve the quality of life for his constituents or just doesn't care.

By: Floyd2 on 7/15/11 at 6:38

Let's get the facts straight.

This facility is not in a residential area. Centennial Boulevard is zoned industrial. There are no homes on it. This is absolutely an appropriate place for such a facility.

This facility will be completely enclosed. The first one in the country. That takes care of any environmental concern.

There is no recycling facility in West Nashville right now. We haven't had one since Metro closed the one by the bowling alley. Not only will this serve people in CM Baker's district, it will serve people in the districts of CM's Holleman, Evans, and Mitchell.

West Nashville needs a recycling facility. This will be an environmentally sound one, and it's in an industrial area.

This is a good deal for us.

By: NoodlesSarducci on 7/15/11 at 6:57

We definitely need a recycling center near Charlotte Pike. There used to be one next to where Publix is now, but they closed it years ago.

This company is already operating on this site. Sounds to me like they are simply upgrading their operation. An enclosed facility sounds good to me. Calling Centennial Blvd a residential area is nothing but misleading. Do you consider a bunch of factories and a prison to be residential? I don't.

Thanks to Buddy Baker for helping us get a recycling center.

By: The Nations on 7/15/11 at 8:41

Seems to me there is not even a story here, just another story that Roberts has spun to try and put a negative light on CM Baker and gain votes.

I see no issue is with an industrial business upgrading a facility that they already own and operate in an area with not 1 residential piece of property within a mile or more of it.. CM Baker is not bringing more industrial development into the area with this, he is working with a company to greatly improve an industrial site that they already operate. This will be a state of the art 100% enclosed facility that will not only set the standard for Nashville but for the Southeast. It will provide not only District 20, but surrounding Districts with much better waste collection efforts as well as many more opportunities for recycling. ALL trucks will also use I-40 and Briley Parkway coming and going verses 51st Avenue, so that puts to rest any traffic concerns. This facility is something our community needs and wants.

My favorite part of this article is: “This had already come up a while back, and we shot it down,” she said. “Somehow, we’ve backdoored it in again.”

That is quite comical coming from someone who moved into the District on 6/15/10. http://www.padctnwebpro.com/WebproNashville/Summary.asp?A1=1741257&A2=1
Barely lived in the district a year!!!


Still trying to figure out what "Historic West Nashville" is

By: pch13 on 7/15/11 at 9:06

Well said "The Nations." The land is currently zoned IR and that use is permitted with conditions. If I'm not mistaken those conditions are it be enclosed and not within 300 feet of a residential property. There isn't a residential property within 8000 feet of this property. Also, I would hope my councilman is trying to bring more industrial development to an area that is zoned for said use. Does Roberts think a nice new "mixed use" development is being cast aside in favor of this recycling facility? Yes, some nice new condos complimented by some trendy ground floor eateries is going to be erected in the shadows of the Ford Glass Plant, Yellow Trucking and Nashville Steel. "Live/Work/Play on Centennial Boulevard!"

By: District 20 on 7/15/11 at 9:13

I fully agree with "The Nations" post! And "pch13", maybe the area on Centennial where this is being proposed is Historic West Nashville ?!?!?!?!? Props to Buddy! Buddy Baker for District 20!

By: nash615 on 7/15/11 at 9:52

Good to see Buddy's shills up early this morning to astroturf some "go Buddy" hoo-rah support.

Buddy Baker has been nothing but a menace to District 20. He repeatedly attempts to sneak in, ram through, and misrepresent crony projects for his good-ole' boy buddies. He has never met an issue he wouldn't rather push quickly in the dark of night. He has been a complete prick in public, on film, in multiple venues to anyone who questions an issue he's trying to ram-rod.

We spent MONTHS of our time fighting him with his "let's industrialize all the residential plots in the eastern half of the district for my old-time 'buddy'" nonsense on 43rd Avenue.

He was willing to let the May family bulldoze houses in Charlotte Park to drop a bridge on them for May Town, up until homeowners got wind of what was going on -- then he switched gears and decided it would be great to drop the impact on the eastern half of the District instead.

Go to 43rdrezoning.org and just wallow in story after story of Buddy's crooked glory. Shameless.

Note: a waste transfer facility is NOT a recycling center. Waste transfer facilities are high-impact centers with heavy truck traffic through the adjoining areas. They require special exceptions to zoning. Which is what is happening here.

The road where the center is proposed is under capacity for this type of facility and the CITY WILL PICK UP THE TAB. Additionally, increased traffic will hit 51st Avenue, which cuts through the middle of the RESIDENTIAL Nations neighborhood.

The reason the proposal is citing an "enclosed" facility, is that there will be issues brought up about birds at the facility and its proximity to John C. Tune airport. Note that proponents saying "this will be a closed facility" doesn't mean that it actually will be a closed facility.

The short story: this is not a simple issue, and the community will be involved in deciding this. Buddy, once again, tried to slip this through to avoid that stage -- because he's a cronyist, sh*t Councilman who's in it for him and his 'buddies' and not for the interests of the people in his District.

We're tired of his bullsh*t.

By: District 20 on 7/15/11 at 10:16

Watch who you are calling shills pancho

By: nash615 on 7/15/11 at 10:20

Sorry, I meant "lapdogs".

By: District 20 on 7/15/11 at 10:46

You are just full of good ones aren't you?

By: haveasay on 7/15/11 at 11:16

nash615, I see you are trying to impress us with your knowledge of the English language, it's a shame you are so anti-Baker that you resort to 4 letter words and filthy slang words to try to make your point.
It is apparant that you can not voice your opinion in a dignified manner.
If you are so gullible to think that the transplant from Belle Meade can be a good councilperson you are easily fooled.

By: District 20 on 7/15/11 at 11:30

negativity, false accusations, name calling, Baker bashing...seems on par for the Robert's campaign

By: nash615 on 7/15/11 at 12:08

I'll rest on the six months of documented evidence about Buddy's cronyism collected by the community and placed online for all to see.

Be sure to let us know when you have anything other than posturing to show for your "arguments".

As for questions as to whether Mary Carolyn or Gower Mills would be a better replacement for Buddy Baker as Councilperson: a vacated seat would be a better Councilperson than Buddy Baker. Given that either of those other candidates are better than a vacated seat I have a hard time understanding your point(s) of view.

By: charlottepikebiz on 7/15/11 at 12:29

so what happens if CM Baker is re-elected? will you tuck your little tail in between your legs and stick a crooked FSBO sign in your yard as your cry while pulling your Roberts sign out of the yard? or will you put your big boy britches on and work to make the district better anyways?

By: nash615 on 7/15/11 at 12:39

I (and dozens of other people who share my sentiments) have been working to make the district a better place all through his term, mostly despite our Council "leadership".

If we're stuck with his "representation" in the future it's just more of the same. I'm not moving anywhere. Buddy's also being watched like a hawk by dozens of people, and he knows it, and his cronies know it. It's only going to get harder and harder for good ol' boys to work in District 20. The sooner people realize that they sooner we can get to a stage where we actually have the neighbors, and business, and Council, and Planning, and Neighborhood Watch (note: not Buddy's idea -- a result of our agitation during the 43rd Avenue debacle), etc., working together to improve things instead of neighbors having to guard the District against bad actors repeatedly acting badly.

I'm optimistic -- but not about "business as usual". If the unfortunate comes to pass -- Buddy being re-elected -- he's going to have to have a realization about what will work, or he's going to find himself even more embattled with every "favor" he tries to sneak through.

By: loveyourneighbor on 7/15/11 at 12:56

I do believe that Buddy has done great things for the neighborhood. Sure, not everyone is going to agree with everything he does - but he has done great things. Nash615, have you tried to sit down with Buddy and ask him about why he has fought for the things he has fought for in this neighborhood? I personally have contacted him before and have a great success with him wanting to sit down and talk and explain. I have also had things in the neighborhood that needed to be brought to his attention and in a very timely manner, he has taken care of them. Nash615, I understand that you are not a Buddy supporter - but there is no need for name calling and resorting to bashing of CM Baker. He is a good man and has lived in the neighborhood for quite some time now. Why wouldn't he want the best for the area he lives in!? I am not a Roberts supporter. I do not agree with the way she has handled her campaign trail, but at the same time, I am not going to bash her and degrade her as a person. That is childish. Back to the article - because ALL of these comments have gotten carried away and are not about what the article is about. I think the waste transfer facility would be a great asset to the neighborhood. With it being state of art and first of its kind in this region - it has potential to shed great light on the nations neighborhood and put it on the map again for being a growing community for good.

By: NoodlesSarducci on 7/15/11 at 1:06

Face it, some people are bitter people that complain about everything. They would pitch a fit regardless of who represents them. That is exactly the case with the TWO people complaining about this project and CM Baker. That's right. There are exactly two people complaining.

The facts are that this is a business upgrading its property and doing a service for the community in the process. This facility is in an industrial area. The nearest homes are miles away. It is an enclosed facility, so there will be no environmental impact. Traffic will not travel through our neighborhoods.

Anyone claiming that this project will have a negative impact on our neighborhoods is being misleading. Not to mention they are being very crude and attempting to intimidate those of us that disagree with them.

By: nash615 on 7/15/11 at 5:24

"Anyone claiming that this project will have a negative impact on our neighborhoods is being misleading"

And anyone saying there should be no community discussion is acting suspiciously.

By: nash615 on 7/16/11 at 7:08

The Metro Nashville Airport Authority is presumably being "misleading" as well. Not sure yet if they qualify as "crude" or "attempting to intimidate":


"Baker, who expressed support for the project last month, said he would oppose the facility if it’s not in compliance with the Airport Authority."

Good that Buddy, who has been on this for a month now, declined to mention it to any of the voters in the District. I'm comforted that there is someone's opinion to whom he *will* listen.

Thankfully he's offering to "defer" the issue with the carrot of community meetings held out (will a proposed "deferral" mean that the Council committees of interest will not see this issue next week? I'm skeptical).

Here's hoping this time it doesn't take news stories from 3 television stations and umpteen newspaper articles to get him to actually set up a a rigged meeting with company employees posing as District 20 residents.

By: District 20 on 7/16/11 at 8:58

Baker for district 20! Buddy, Buddy, Buddy!

By: monetter on 7/16/11 at 2:03

Hmm...why is this a hard thing to do...inform the public of what is going with this facility -- review what kind of materials will be transferred and/or recycled at the proposed waste transfer site? What is the proposed traffic flow for the facility? What assurance do neighbors have it will be adherred to? This could be resolved -- why does CM Baker not want a pubic meeting?

With the adamant letter to Baker from MNAA it seems clear -- more than enough has surfaced to necessitate holding a public meeting with all present -- MNAA, Waste Transfer, Metro, Council representatives and the Public.

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