Council committee narrowly approves Midtown rezoning plan

Monday, September 17, 2012 at 9:25pm

The Metro Council’s Planning, Zoning and Historical Committee narrowly voted to recommend approval Monday of an urban-inspired rezoning plan covering a massive swath of Midtown property.

The committee’s 5-3 vote came in advance of the proposal’s third and final Metro Council consideration Tuesday.

Metro planners say the rezoning — affecting 455 acres and originating from a recently adopted community plan — is part of an effort to spur denser, more pedestrian-friendly and transit-supporting development near West End Avenue between Interstate 40 and I-440.

“Developers have money that they can spend on development all around town,” Doug Sloan, assistant executive director of the Metro Planning Department, told committee members Monday. “We’ve got to be forward-thinking in trying to drive developers into areas where we want to see development. Midtown is precisely that type of area.”

But the plan has skeptics from Nashvillians who say Metro is moving forward too quickly on the zoning overhaul and from others who argue its approval represents “tacit support” for Mayor Karl Dean’s bus rapid transit project along the West End corridor.

The Midtown rezoning overcame resistance Monday from council members Jason Holleman, Fabian Bedne and Davette Blalock, who each voted against it.

Councilwoman Burkley Allen, whose district includes much of the affected 455 acres, said the rezoning plan has undergone changes to call for the eventual creation of an urban design overlay to lay out future design guidelines, among other tweaks.

“I absolutely believe this is a good thing for Midtown,” Allen said.

Holleman, whose district borders much of the affected area, however, has drafted an amendment that would exempt approximately one-third of the affected 455 acres — specifically properties where taller buildings would be authorized. He said he hoped to delay granting additional height to new development until the UDO’s guidelines are established.

“I’m for greater pedestrian access, more urban design,” said Holleman, who called his concerns “more procedural than substantive.” He added that he hopes his amendment would facilitate additional discussion on the Midtown rezoning process.

“What I’m concerned about is where we’re adding additional floor-area ratio that causes high rises, and we’re not addressing basic design elements,” he said.

Holleman declined on Monday, however, to make a motion for his amendment’s approval. He also suggested deferring the Midtown rezoning ordinance, though didn’t make a motion for that action either.

2 Comments on this post:

By: MusicCity615 on 9/18/12 at 7:48

Good to see.

By: puddycat on 9/19/12 at 1:25

As I understand this, it will allow structures to be closer to the street. With one of the stated objectives being to make the area more pedestrian friendly, just how does reducing the size of sidewalks and decreasing the amount of pedestrian area make the area more pedestrian friendly especially when you're trying to increase pedestrian traffic to support "mass transit" ??

If they want more cozy feeling with buildings closer to the street, why not move the street closer to the buildings ?? That provides much needed traffic space for mass transit, bikers, etc. Once it's built, a building is pretty tough to move but why bother; the developers have already cashed their checks and wasn't that the real objective ??