Opponents to the proposed May Town Center will make their case once again Thursday evening before the Metro Planning Commission.
Armed with more information against the massive project planned for Bells Bend, they likely will challenge Jack May and his consultant, developer Tony Giarratana, on how true they are to “green” building concepts.
At a meeting on the final community design plans for the bend, the opponents will question how smart May Town Center’s growth really is. To that end, they have hired an economist from Chattanooga to analyze May’s proposal.
“He will analyze and report the true expected revenue of MTC and the expected tax revenue of alternative land use such as outdoor recreation and agriculture,” Kathleen Wolff, a Bells Bend resident, wrote in an e-mail.
Regardless, May and Giarratana will on Friday file their official request to rezone the property for the development.
Opponents to the $4 billion project say it’s not smart to build a project that could draw a daytime population of 45,000, equivalent to downtown Nashville.
In particular, Wolff pointed to criteria in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design that suggests not building on property that is “prime farmland” as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But site selection is but one point of LEED certification on new construction.
Giarratana said a policy would be in place that includes green building principals. The project would have rigorous building requirements that other developers would have to follow in order to construct there. Known as form-based code, it’s basically zoning within zoning.
May and Giarratana wouldn’t build anything themselves. It would be up to individual developers who choose to build there to decide on the level of LEED they want to achieve on each building.
Sumter Camp and others in Scottsboro have argued the Bend should be a conservation district. Under the May Town Center, much of it will remain undeveloped.
“We are donating 900 acres of land for conservation district,” Giarratana said.
The development team also has offered to put $1 million into a fund to pay for property owners there to put their own properties into conservation. Giarratana said another $3 million would go into a fund to preserve 300 feet on both sides of Old Hickory Boulevard from Ashland City Highway so nothing like a convenience store could be built should May Town Center develop.
The opponents are fighting the project in the face of growing support for it from other parts of the city. A group of North Nashville merchants have voiced support for it, as has the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“Nashville is at a pivotal moment and we as a community must make smart development decisions if we're going to continue to grow and thrive,” chamber president Yuri Cunza said in a statement. “May Town Center is the epitome of a smart decision.”