Two recently filed Metro Council ordinances appear to be attempts to limit the parties and crowds at famed country singer John Rich’s mansion on Love Circle.
But Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, sponsor of the bills and representative of the area, said the ordinances are attempts to improve the quality of life of the neighborhood and aren’t targeted at a specific property owner.
One of the ordinances would prohibit any bus or recreational vehicle in excess of 24 feet from operating or parking on Love Circle, the winding road off West End near Vanderbilt University where the towering, 73-foot-tall home known as "Villa Rich" was recently built. The law wouldn’t apply to school buses, and it wouldn’t affect any street other than Love Circle.
“We have been working for a year, since I took office, to just generally improve the situation on Love Circle,” LaLonde said. “It’s a very difficult circle in terms of traffic. It switches around, and it’s very narrow, so this is part of those improvements.”
Anecdotally, some neighbors have expressed frustration over the influx of large tour buses that followed Rich’s arrival to the neighborhood. Sometimes the vehicles block the street for extended periods of time.
Asked if her bill is a response to Rich’s residence, LaLonde said, “No,” adding, “Anytime there’s a bigger vehicle up there, it makes it very difficult for the residents to maneuver.”
The other bill would limit to two the number of special-event road-closure permits granted to the same person or business each year. It would also allow no more than two closures on the same individual street each year. The bill is not specific to one street and would apply to only residential neighborhoods throughout Davidson County. Schools applying for road closures would be exempt from the law.
Again, some neighbors have grumbled about parties, political fundraisers and other special events held at Rich’s house, some which may have taken place after a permit was granted to allow the street to be temporarily shut down.
“We just want to make sure that this isn’t an open-ended process, that people have to maintain a kind of neighborliness about road closures,” LaLonde said. “If you want to have a street party, if you want to have a party that requires you to close down a road, that’s great. But two seems right to us.”
Both bills, co-sponsored by At-large Councilman Ronnie Steine, are scheduled to go before the council on first reading on July 6. LaLonde said it’s possible one or both of the ordinances could be amended.
Though LaLonde challenges the notion that the bills are targeted at a specific residence, Rich has squared off against the council in the past.
During construction of his Love Circle house, some council members fought to reduce the height of the structure, even though the house was designed in accordance with Metro codes. At the time, city law restricted the number of stories that could be built, without addressing height.
A new law, sponsored by then-At-large Councilman David Briley, was later passed that prevented three-story houses from being taller than 45 feet.