A Metro councilman has scrapped a controversial zone change that would have permitted an LED sign outside a Bordeaux church, a proposal neighborhood activists criticized as “spot zoning” that could set a dangerous precedent.
“The church doesn’t want to engage in a political battle,” bill sponsor Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. told The City Paper Monday afternoon prior to leading the ordinance’s indefinite deferral in the council’s Planning and Zoning Committee that night. The bill will now be deferred at Tuesday’s full council meeting.
“They don’t want to do anything that’s going to impose on other neighborhoods,” he added.
Matthews’ ordinance would have accommodated a proposed Specific Plan allowing the Temple Baptist Church at 3810 Kings Lane, near Clarksville Pike, to build a 96 square-foot LED (light emitting diode) sign containing a 33-square-foot reader board.
The SP proposal was unusual because it dealt solely with signs and applied to only .02 acres of a 5-acre lot, leading critics to question the standard it could set in allowing future LED signs across the county. LED signs, scorned for their brightly lit lettering, have proved contentious for years.
In explaining his motion to defer, Matthews cited a Metro Department of Law legal analysis that alluded to creating a new standard that could be applied to other neighborhoods:
“If the zoning change is approved it will create precedent for future requests by similarly situated property owners and denial of such requests could lead to Equal Protection challenges,” the analysis reads.
Matthews told council members Monday he would begin conversations with the church and surrounding community about proposing a new SP that would apply to the church’s entire acreage to avoid establishing “a precedent of spot-zoning” in regards to LED signs.
“It’s going to involved community meetings, and it’s going to involve public input of what the neighborhood wants,” Matthews said.