May Town Center critics take green tack

Monday, July 21, 2008 at 3:29am
Opponents to the proposed May Town Center will make their case once again Thursday evening before the Metro Planning Commission. Matthew Williams/The City Paper

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.”

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By: Anna3 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I saw where Yuri Cunza and the Hispanic Chamber is supporting Giarrantana...what's up with that? There is not a single Hispanic living out there...and the last time I checked...Yuri Cunza was not even a US citizen! Should Yuri Cunza mind his own business? Si'! The next thing you know...the Hispanic Chamber will be accusing the Scotsboro neighbors of "Hate Crimes" for their failure to capitulate to the big developers and lawyer lobbyists.

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

Develop MTC. I don't even understand why the residents near the development have a choice- the May family owns the land..... they should be able to do what they wish with it, and we're lucky that they wish to develop a center that would increase revenue AND preserve green space forever!I don't understand the preservationist argument... They should be FOR mtc and against Williamson County. Companies moving to Williamson County corporate campuses are destroying hundreds of acres of land outside our county and the destroying more land and tax money to build interstates and further increase our dependene on oil

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

Nashbeck...can you tell me...for honest to goodness...that you have absolutely no ties to the May family or stand to benefit in any form or fashion from the MTC development?I have never, ever seen anyone support a shopping center like you support this...unless of course they are employed by the developer.

By: tim4wsp on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If the people of Nashville want to save this area, they need to raise the money and buy it. Otherwise, let it be developed in a smart way instead of becoming another ramshackled mess (Murfreesboro, Brentwood, Galatin Road, etc.)

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

evilj, no i am not connected to the may family or giarratana in any way. I am connected to Nashville. I hate urban sprawl. I am a huge proponent of building our revenues so we can build a city at the least expense of tax payers. If you look at everything I post, it's in support of Nashville (Titans, Predators, downtown development, MTC). I understand your position- preserve the green space in davidson county. The developers are doing that, but I want to stop the urban sprawl of surrounding counties and middle Tennessee's dependence on oil and interstates. A more centralized city with a thriving downtown and public transportation system is better for Nashville. MTC helps accomplish that by eliminating urban sprawl to surrounding counties.

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

I think MTC should be built where the metal recycling factory is currently...next to the Stadium. I would support that in a heartbeat. Or anywhere off of Dickerson Pike.