The Salemtown Neighbors Association showed up at the Metro Council Meeting last night. It was ‘public hearing’ night. The agenda for the meeting was approximately 12 pages long. ‘Our’ issue was on page 8.
Our issue was a bill to permit a developer to flood a nearby tract of land with duplexes. We weren’t asking for zero duplexes..we wanted some semblance of balance between duplexes and single family houses. Developers wishing to make quick bucks in $alemtown are starting to drop duplexes like babies from that family in Arkansas with 16 kids (so far..).
The meeting started on time (6:00). The gallery was full of folks, many festooned with ‘YES’ stickers and badges proclaiming: ‘Cancel the PUD’.
Some issues were deferred. Some issues came with no controversy and were passed within minutes of the bill being called. Any bill that contains the word ‘overlay’ brings the populi out of the historical woodwork. An overlay bill for Hillboro/Belmont brought LOTS of folks. Fortunately for their cause, may of proponents had something to say. Sadly for the viewing, somewhat patient* gallery, they mostly all took their full allotted three minutes to wax on/wax off.
Hillsboro/Belmont ‘Yes’ folks got their ‘Yes’. Other issues included a quarry in south-east Nashville that potentially could emit ‘a big cloud of stink’.
The ‘PUD’ (planned unit development) issue in Nashboro Village was contentious. Some kids wanted the ducks to be saved. Others were worried about crime in what was described as a potential two-story tower apartment building. Most of the folks wanted the PUD to be cancelled. I wondered if a more effective campaign slogan might be ‘PULL OUR PUD’. Apparently my slogan was not needed, The PUD was de-plugged. Many folks left..
Time was ticking. Our Salemtown group was stalwart. Time marched slowly on. Democracy is ‘Days of Our Lives’ – sand through the hour glass..except there were plenty of hourglasses last night. I have to give props to the council members. They slogged through a lot last night with no plenary break. As the evening wore on, there was more confusion…folks do get tired. At one point, the Vice-Mayor allowed discussion on a technical overlay amendment that had absolutely nothing to do with the amendment. At some point, I was silently mouthing** GET ON POINT. CALL THE DAMN QUESTION.
Finally at approximately 11:00, our issue came up. We were preceded by the PUD issue which meant that a large part of the gallery was noisily exiting while we were attempting to hear the dulcet tones of our councilman Ludye (the sponsor of the bill we were opposing). The chair called for a show of hands FOR the bill. One hand went up: the developer’s. When he called for a show of hands against, a slew of hands went up, along with a few hallelujahs that our bill had arrived.
The developer spoke in favor of his bill, but seemed to be hesitant. At one point he seemed to be backtracking. Not a brilliant showing***.
Six of our group spoke. Brilliant****. Ludye actually listened to what we had to say*****. Ludye began rambling a bit, and appeared to be offering a compromise amendment that seem to confuse the entire council, not to mention a good bit of the gallery******. Actually the amendment was EXACTLY what we wanted. David Briley came back to our group and asked if we were for the amendment. We happily said YESSSS and thanked him. The amendment was discussed and several members of the council asked if the folks out there (us) understood the amendment. We mostly nodded vigorously. I expended my last bit of energy and issued a brilliant ‘thumbs up’. More confusing discussion ensued, and then someone finally called the question. The good guys won. Democracy takes time, but I’d have to say it was worth every long minute.
Thanks to Ludye for the amendment..thanks to David Briley for taking the time to listen. Thanks to the Salemtown Neighbors who proved we CAN make a difference. That amendment wouldn’t have shown up if we hadn’t shown up…
*The ‘patient’ group did not include my wife. She went in and out of the gallery enough times for some folks to maybe think she was some kind of power broker or drug dealer.
**It is quite possible I wasn’t quite as silent as I thought.
***This assessment may be somewhat biased.
****What I just said above.
*****We may have written hundred of emails on this and made lots of phone calls on this issue. This was the first time he appeared to be interested.
******I’m suspecting this was not the first time that Ludye has confused his peers.