Big changes could be in store for Metro Council and Board of Education districts if the city adopts a revised map issued by the Metro Planning Department on Wednesday.
Many of the city’s 35 council districts would be renumbered and rearranged, among them District 6, which would shift from including parts of downtown to covering exclusively East Nashville. Downtown would be its own district (renumbered 13), while the Hillsboro-Belmont area would be split up so that Vanderbilt and Belmont universities no longer fall into the same district. The Berry Hill neighborhood would be its own district, while East Nashville would trade one of the most oddly shaped council districts — the 15th — for new boundaries splitting off its southwestern portion into a new District 14 that would stretch across the Cumberland River and into the area south of downtown.
Outside the I-440 loop, the changes aren’t as dramatic, but they could still alter the composition of the council. A few would remain essentially the same but be renumbered. For instance, some of the geographically smaller districts in southeastern Davidson County would shift by only a few blocks, while the current lines for districts 13, 29 and 33 would be dramatically different. Lines in the neighborhoods of Belle Meade, Forest Hills and Oak Hill would change only slightly. (View the map here.)
The proposal is one of what could end up being multiple alternatives, according to planning department spokesman Craig Owensby.
The department took up the matter in earnest earlier this month, amid pressure from the council after Nashville attorney George Barrett, who specializes in constitutional law, threatened a lawsuit against the city if it did not use new U.S. Census data to update its council boundaries. Historically, Metro has put off that process until after the first post-census election. The planning department would have to approve a final map before sending it up the ladder.
If the council adopts the new lines — which it would vote on as an ordinance, requiring a standard three-vote process that Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors has said would be expedited — and the mayor signs on, redrawn districts could pose new challenges for the current crop of candidates, as well as incumbents whose district layouts change dramatically. Some candidates who have already pulled papers to run in certain districts could be drawn out of those districts, for example.