After a nearly four-month delay, a bill essentially legalizing the home recording studio is advancing again after the Metro Council voted to approve it on second reading Tuesday night.
Home recording studios are, of course, quite common in Nashville. But they are not, strictly speaking, legal. Metro Codes restrictions on the amount of clients and customers coming and going from a residence make the typical operation of many home recording studios a violation of Metro law.
At-large council member Megan Barry introduced a bill in December to address the situation, which she said at the time “just doesn’t seem right.” However, after Dave Pomeroy, a longtime Nashville musician and current president of the Nashville Musicians Association, raised concerns about the specifics of the bill on behalf of the musicians union, Barry agreed to defer further action on the bill, vowing to work with all interested parties toward an agreeable framework.
Barry returned to the council Tuesday night with an amended version of the legislation, which she said had the support of the musicians union.
“We structured the substitute to address their concerns, and so they’re fine with it,” Barry told The City Paper.
While the bill had been written to apply to the home-based business portion of the Metro code, Barry explained that the new version makes home recording studios an accessory use, separate from other home occupations. By doing so, the bill avoids some restrictions, such as those on the size of a given studio in a home, that were of concern to musicians.
Council members Phil Claiborne and Bruce Stanley each expressed some concerns on behalf of residents in their districts who might not prefer to have their neighbors operating recording studios next door. Barry said she believed such concerns could be addressed.
The bill moves on to a third and final vote at the council’s next meeting.
The council also voted Tuesday to approve, on second reading, a new 10-year franchise agreement with Comcast, after three years of negotiation. In exchange for the use of public rights of way, cable companies sign such agreements with cities, typically including payment and contributions to public access channels.
Under the terms of the new deal, Comcast will continue to pay Metro 5 percent of its gross revenue, which came out to $8.5 million in the 2013 fiscal year, according to Metro officials.
The agreement also includes a boost in funding for Nashville’s public, educational, government (PEG) channels — MCAtv9 (arts), iQtv10 (education) and Access Nashville 19 — and Metro 3, which broadcasts Metro government meetings. Under the previous agreement, Comcast contributed $100,000 annually to PEG support. Going forward, they would contribute $300,000 in the first year and $200,000 per year after that. Those funds, however, can only be used for capital purposes, meaning NECAT — the nonprofit organization that runs channels 9, 10 and 19 — must rely on fundraising to support their staff.
The increase in PEG support will show up as a slight increase in fees for Comcast subscribers. The 5-cent fee the cable provider currently passes on to subscribers will go up to roughly 10 cents, according to Comcast officials.
The deal also includes a settlement of a dispute between Metro and Comcast over the results of an audit, under which Comcast will make a one-time payment to Metro of $800,000.
In other council action:
As expected, the council approved a little more than $11 million in supplemental appropriations  to get various Metro departments and programs through the end of the fiscal year, June 30. The appropriations include $2.8 million for Metro Nashville Public Schools, for textbooks, as well as supplemental funding for the state fairgrounds and the Nashville Farmers’ Market.