Now that the Planning Commission has given the May Town Center proposal a higher hurdle to clear on Metro Council, the rezoning bill’s sponsor is left to mull his next move.
District 1 Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. said Friday he didn’t yet know what he would do when the bill came back up for a vote. The May Town Center rezoning bill for rural Bells Bend will be on second reading at the July 7 Council meeting.
The bill needs 27 votes on Council to advance, because the Planning Commission voted to disapprove the rezoning at its Thursday meeting . Matthews conceded the controversial bill would face an uphill battle to receive 27 votes.
Matthews said all options were on the table, including deferring the bill, letting the public hearing go forward, or perhaps even withdrawing it altogether.
“There’s not a level of disappointment,” Matthews said. “I think the Planning Commission vote kind of reflected what you see in the community, it’s torn between two ideas, two visions and it was a really close vote either way.”
The rezoning failed after the Planning Commission didn’t approve a necessary amendment to the Scottsboro/Bells Bend detailed design plan. The amendment required six votes, but the commission was split 5-5.
Metro Planning Director Rick Bernhardt said the question for countywide planning going forward would be putting the priorities established by the highly anticipated vote into practice. Commissioners expressed a desire for prioritizing infill development and using existing infrastructure, but Bernhardt said those opportunities face opposition as well.
Earlier this week, the Green Hills community held a meeting concerning bringing a 308-unit mixed-use apartment development.
“I think the commission had a lot of good debate. I think the real issue is beyond this specific project,” Bernhardt said. “The issue is how do we do everything that was talked about tonight? How do we begin to have infill development, how do we make it easy to redevelop and to infill?
“Every project becomes a personal project that nobody wants. We had a meeting last night in the Green Hills area, in a location that was exactly what we're talking about, an infill location immediately adjacent to Green Hills that met everything that was talked about today, and the community doesn't want it.”
May Town Center developer Tony Giarratana called the Planning Department this morning following last night’s close vote by the Commission. There was some confusion, because the commissioners first rejected a motion to disapprove. That seemed to suggest the amendment to the detailed design plan would pass, but then commissioner Victor Tyler flipped and the motion did not receive the necessary six votes.
“They wanted to clarify the rules that applied to the vote last night,” Planning spokesman Craig Owensby said of the developers’ call to the department this morning.