Bells Bend supporters step out of shadows

Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 1:13am
Bells Bend residents counter vocal protests to the proposed May Town Center by penning a letter showing support for the massive project. Courtesy of Paradigm Productions

About 30 Bells Bends residents seem to have tired of being painted as opponents to the proposed May Town Center development and now are rising up to show there’s more support for the project on the Bend than thought.

“Perhaps we haven’t voiced our support as vocally as we should have,” according to a letter residents crafted Tuesday night, signed and sent to the Metro Planning Commission as well as Councilman Lonnell Matthews.

In the letter, they ask that the commission hold off and consider the community plan in its entirety instead of approving one portion and delaying action on the “alternative plan” section that basically would allow May Town Center.

During the last commission meeting, streams of opponents asked the commission to approve the community plan but defer on the alternative development portion. Few people spoke in favor of the alternative development plan.

“We didn’t get tickets to get in,” said Mark Lovell, a resident of Bells Bend and an organizer of Tuesday’s meeting.

The commission meeting was so crowded people had to draw tickets to get into the main meeting room and speak.

During that meeting, however, opponents cited a survey that 92 percent of residents in the Bells Bend area oppose May Town Center. Councilman Matthews used the poll’s result to arrive at his position for delaying the decision on the alternative plan.

Lovell said he and others weren’t contacted for that poll. Matthews couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The May family and consultant developer Tony Giarratana pointed out that just on the Bend alone, more than 62 percent of the landowners support May Town Center. Take out the property that the Mays own, and proponents come in at 56 percent, with direct opponents at 22 percent.

Asked whether there was any coordination with Giarratana or the Mays, Lovell said, “I haven’t spoken to a one of them.”

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By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I would much rather this development go towards the development of the East Bank, but as long as the May family and Tony Giarratana pay for the bridge, I would rather Davidson County get large corporate headquarters and increase the tax base rather than Williamson County (if the preservation of 900 acres holds trues). I would also like to see a clase put in that no business currently in downtown Nashville can relocate to MTC.

By: grapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Richard, Thanks for the coverage. There are many points Bells Bend residents use to support MTC. I want to point out one, now. Look at the picture used with this article. All of the land across Old Hickory Blvd. is already commercial property. All of the green, brown to the bottom right and the light colored rectangular shape to the left is all commercial. Starting from the right bottom is a sod farm which is now using MTC land to grow sod. Next is water treatment plant, this is a sewage plant that spreads sediment from sewage on the open fields next to Bells Bend Park. The plant is the light colored spot to the left. Next is 800 acres for the Bells Bend Park which usually sits idle most days. Please do not be misled by numbers that are thrown around. Check it for yourself, all of this land is being used commercially, already.

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Beck you cannot stop businesses from moving if they want to move. I know it seems odd that an area that sees a disproportionate amount of public money (downtown) is not allowed to operate as fiefdom but it is the truth. At the same time downtown "advocates" have been pushing living space and tourist traps in these areas, businesses have decided that they want the space of open space office development. This is not a Nashville thing but is something that is happening in every city willing to sell its soul for downtown redevelopment.Making it illegal to move from downtown to Bells Bend is the single best way to keep filling up Williamson County with the jobs that we need. But at least we will have overpriced condo buildings and tour bus stops for the tourists.

By: pandabear on 12/31/69 at 6:00

...they paved paradise and put up a parking lot...no more paradise, or, you can't have your paradise and pave it too. (which ever gets through...to you)

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 6:00

900 acres of green space does not sound like a paved parking lot.

By: manotin on 12/31/69 at 6:00

900 acres of green space is not exactly what you have been led to believe. More than 500 of those acres are floodplain, unsuitable for building.

By: airvols on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I live in Cool Springs and can tell you the area is developed better now than when it was overgrown woods and weeds. We enjoy everything from corperate HQ's to great restaurants and a quality of life that is outstanding. The mall is expanding so we have plenty of shopping options. I would think this would be what most forward thinking communities would like. Then again country ham and fruit stands are appealing to some. Ya'll come back now, ye,hear!

By: RyanHurd on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't quite buy the 900 acres of green space. Its 900 acres that is useless to everyone.

By: citizencane on 12/31/69 at 6:00

First of all, it was more like 20 people, not 30. Second of all, 90% of them are related and don't live in Bells Bend. They just own land out there, or their family does. Guess Tony G. and the Mays are really grasping at straws. This reeks of desperation.

By: jambenp on 12/31/69 at 6:00

A long time ago I recognized the conflict in most of us between the desire for new growth and development, and a desire to save large unspoiled open natural areas. We desire both. As a 30+ year student of economic growth and development it would appear MTC has put forward a very logical proposal consolidating development on the land mass and conserving 900 acres. The development is located at the end of a rural road that I doubt prior to this proposal if many of the areas population had ever ventured down too visit not to mention the remainder of Davidson County population. Will the development effect the road system and population on the north end of Bells Bend, of course. The Developer has proposed to mitigate this by building new access which will encourage the people it will bring to area to enter and exit away from the current population of Bells Bend and across the river to the close Interstate artery. It might be noted that this will also provide existing residence quicker access to hospitals and other services of Davidson County. There seems to be a balance here. In regard to the concern of over open space on Bells Bend, if the numbers are correct, Bells Bend Park is 800 acres, the conservation area of MTC 900 acres. These 1700 acres represent approximately 63% of the highly regarded Warner Park system and is located in area of the county that will hold a relatively small percentage of the city's population when MTC is built out? My point being this is a logical consolidation of development within the land mass in an area with perhaps the best start of having the largest protected land mass in the county. MTC is proposing to place 900 acres in conservation perhaps some of the opponents who are concerned over maintenance of green space on Bell Bend might step up with MTC and the families that have already donate land for Bells Bend Park by providing additional land helping to assure Bells Bend remains the green area they cherish. This could be done by adding land they control to the park or conservation easements. This is not and all or nothing it is time to come off the poles and work on the good aspects of this plan the areas concerns for the good of Bells Bend and the city.

By: grapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"citizencane" you are only guessing, their will be more than twenty signatures on the letter sent to the commission. It sounds that you saw the news 17 story, thanks for watching. The whole "Bend" is a story of 'kin' and friends working together. Thanks!

By: grits on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If I recall correctly, Mr. Giarratana stated that the Mays would pay up to $100 million for construction of a bridge -- but current estimates for the bridge are $130 million.Even larger expenses are teachers and police and fire personnel and maintenance of the buildings that would house them, both of which will go on in perpetuity.Maytown would not compete with Williamson County for potential corporate campuses because Williamson County is preferable with its superior public schools. What Maytown WOULD compete with is downtown Nashville, and with a 26% downtown vacancy rate, I'd much prefer that we concentrate on filling those spaces than rolling the dice on such a large venture that no one can prove is needed, especially in these economic times.

By: Fan_of_Nashville on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The 26% vacancy rate downtown tells me that companies aren't interested in downtown office space. If Nissan wanted to be downtown, they would have stayed and paid here rather than building a corporate campus in Cool Springs. This is all the more reason why Nashville should diversify its portfolio with a mix of corporate office space. Downtown can't compete, so we must figure out a way that Nashville can. With regard to the greenspace/floodplain question, the majority of the 808 acre Bells Bend Park across the street from May Town Center (that taxpayers paid $12 million for) also sits in a flood plain. Is this useless land, I guess so since no one uses the park.

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I personally do not want Nashville to go down the tubes just because downtown cannot adapt or succeed. Lets grow in areas other than downtown. It should be apparent that not everyone can be shoehorned into a downtown solution. You cannot stop people and companies from leaving Nashville, but you can give them other options besides downtown. Right now economic development officials and "neighborhood advocates" are giving out a "downtown of nothing" message to people interested in bringing real jobs to Nashville.This Bend is not the first place that neighbors have NIMBied us all from prosperity. I cringe each and every time someone proposes a historic preservation zone for a community or property with no actual historic significance. It ranks up there with people who enact "Death by Environmental Impact Statement".

By: dleibacher on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't oppose having a commercial development in Davidson County, I just think it should be in an area that has easy access to an interstate. This is not Cool Springs, it is not easy access. And again, what business is expanding right now, everyone is closing, and cutting back, why would a business build there? Most of the residents of the area, do not live there to have easy access to hospitals and shopping, they like the rural life, for the most part the supporters of MTC are not residents, but owners of property in the area that want to profit.

By: TNReader on 12/31/69 at 6:00

jambenp, what are you doing arguing logical facts? You make too much sense, nobody will buy it. Particularly the ones that are trying to be magicians and make 400 acres disappear. With proper engineering, there are uses for floodplain property such as parking. You just can't build occupied structures.Also, grits made a good point regarding schools. Williamson and Rutherford counties have and will attract companies due to the school systems.This is a tough call, but I come down on the side of an owner's property rights. If preservationists want to "protect" the property, let them buy it and donate it to the city for a park.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

There are better places to build from a planning perspective. Especially considering the cost of infrastructure. Especially if the taxpayers get stuck with ANY of that cost. This is basically a fight between good planning and the 'land rights' crowd. Usually in Nashville the 'land rights' crowd wins. That's why we are supposedly the number one city in the nation for sprawl (I would have thought Atlanta and LA were worse...).

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Lawson tends to slant his articles in favor of developers. Not a criticism, just an observation.

By: MFO on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Lawson doesn't always come down on the side of the developers. In fact, I used to think he did the exact opposite. What Mr. Lawson does is show each side of the arguments as they come out on the table so we can all see them and decide for ourselves what we think the right decision is. There's nothing wrong with that and having straightened that I out I am a SUPPORTER of May Town Center. It's not wasting land and that is evident by the overwhelming amount of green space that is still left in the rendering, nobody has any better ideas for it and nobody visits it as a park so that idea is a waste, some people are going complain whereever a project is no matter what it is, and lastly(and I've said this until I'm blue in the face and those who just want to complain ignore it which is a HUGE flaw in their case) if companies wanted to be downtown they would already be there and therefore building MTC would not steal companies from downtown but rather ensure that companies which would otherwise not come here at all if downtown were their only choice would still come because of the presence of the alternative location that really desire(This a GOOD THING). Think about it guys.

By: rickb1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Grapa's been on all the newspaper sites that cover the MTC/Bell's Bend issue, spouting the MTC party line. Granted, it's much cheaper to hire a couple guys to post to web forums than it is to actually build enthusiasm in the communities for a massive speculative project that will ultimately do nothing for Nashville's economy and only line the pockets of Tony and his cronies.The fortunate reality of the matter is that months of notice, with May millions at work, couldn't roust more than a handful of lukewarm supporters of May Town when they were most needed at the July Planning Commission meeting.To be clear, since I was there roughly 7 hours that night, ANYONE who wanted to speak on the matter could speak and did speak. The reason we waited until this month to hear the outcome is that the Planning Commission wanted to hear EVERYONE who had an opinion on the matter. Ticketing, ultimately, wasn't even an issue (those who were there interested in speaking knew this, as it was made obvious). This "we weren't fairly represented" gambit is simply post-fact PR.The truth is that MTC proponents payed employees (of PR, law, construction, and architecture firms related to the MTC project) to be there, and still had a weak showing, anemic arguments, and a gallery of half-truths that were shot down on camera for the public record.Unfortunately, Tony G and friends realize it's easier to dissemble and inflate the supposed support for their cause through PR than it is to actually do something beneficial for Nashville.