Metro moving ahead to help streamline development process

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 1:35am

Metro's five development-related department heads — who have been working since May — are making strides in their efforts to revise and streamline the real estate development process.

That was the word heads of the Planning, Codes, Fire, Water and Public Works departments were spreading at special meeting of the Planning, Zoning and Historical Committee last night.

But news that work on the development process was well underway clearly surprised the Council — including the members who called the meeting — Jerry Maynard and Eric Crafton.

“As I got into this meeting I found out that there has been some progress made and quite a few changes that I wasn’t aware of when they first asked to do this meeting,” committee chairman Jim Gotto said at the beginning of the meeting.

“We have met together virtually every week since the first of May,” said Terry Cobb, director of Codes and Building Safety. “We’ve met together more than 30 times in 2008 with nothing on the agenda but the processes themselves.”

Mayor Karl Dean had asked the department heads to address inefficiencies in the development process and eliminate obstacles, Cobb told department heads, Council members and developers on hand Monday night.

“We learned a lot today, that they’ve been making improvements over the last 10 months. I wish we had better communications,” Maynard told The City Paper following the meeting. Although he didn’t feel there was a problem in communication between the departments and council, Maynard said in the future the two parties must work closer together.

All Metro departments involved in the process are now on integrated computer systems and share a common database. Developers can also now submit a single set of plans electronically which each department can review concurrently. The new systems also allow developers to track their plans through the process, as well electronically apply for, pay and print building permits. According to Cobb, 53 percent of the building permits issued last week were issued online.

“Cities across the country are having the same conversation, but if you look at them and read between the lines, you’ll see Nashville is miles ahead of most,” Cobb said. “In fact, you’ll see the process and technologies we have in place probably put us in the upper 10 percent of cities in the United States.”

Although they acknowledged the positive strides the departments have made in the process — several still pointed out areas the improvements have yet to address.

Maynard directed the conversation to the possibility of incentivizing infill and workforce housing in blighted urban areas, particularly the possibility of reducing or altering the fee structures that obstruct such building.

Crafton urged the department heads to directly engage developers in order to identify their concerns with the process. He also pressed the department heads to come forward with suggestions for action the Metro Council could take.

“Please … once you get legislation that you think we need to do, let us know so we can help you,” Crafton said.

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

RE: Crafton urged the department heads to directly engage developers in order to identify their concerns with the process. “Please … once you get legislation that you think we need to do, let us know so we can help you,” Crafton said. If Eric Crafton thinks that anyone elected to serve Nashville as a council representative, or those that think like him and should get elected; will not be thrown out faster than we can get to voting booths he is truly as blank as his expressions. Developers, or any profiteer, should not have any input what so ever in this process.

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

Dear WrdBrn, please don't strain yourself in an area you obviously know nothing about. Without those developers and engineers and architects and planners, you'd have no schools, houses to live in, no place to work, no streets to drive on, no place to buy your food, no place to worship (in comfort) with your friends and family, and so on. And even your water you drink was due to their efforts. Stop being ungrateful, and instead, embrace these guys who are giving up their family time just to solve YOUR problems. Seriously, did you think that the water just magically came out of your faucet? My sister did, but then again, we call her Jessica Simpson behind her back.

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

Where is the love for business people in our community Ward? You know the ones with the paying jobs and insurance benefits. Have you not seen enough proof of what happens when building stop in this country? You need to stop sniffing the Sierra Club glue. Everyone blames the developer but no one blames the property owners who bring the developers in to best market their property. Lets all pray we do not end up some some urban utopian society like Portland and San Diego where no one is allowed to build anything and the cost of living and quality of life show it.

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

carleydale:What a joke you are !

By: Kosh III on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"incentivizing" There is no such word. Is there someone there with a background in English or Journalism? Is there an editor?

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

We need to have housing in the blighted areas of downtown dedicated towards those who work downtown. We need more urban neighborhoods in the areas with the vacant warehouses; this will make downtown safer, and people will learn how easier it is to forget their cars and live downtown, close to their work.

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

Panda, even HomeDepot and Lowe's are desolate right now because contactors are sitting home w/nothing to do. Likewise for elecrical contractor, and some plumbers I know. There's just no business...anywhere. Olive Garden sent home waitresses the other night because the place was dead. Used to be, you would have to wait an hour for a table.

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

I went the other day to Lowe's, not one person besides sales staff was in the joint. It was creepy.

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

What "WrdBrn" doesn't seem to get, and "carlydale" does get is that the developers are being asked for suggestions only on how to streamline the process. There is no conspiracy between developers and the council to change the rules, weaken building codes, etc. It seems they are only trying to help lessen the bureaucratic burden (and it can be a huge burden). "WrdBrn" needs to spend more time reading the article for what it says instead of "reading" the article for what it doesn't say.