Zoning, Zoning, Zoned

ZONING MATTERS DOMINATED EAST Nashvillians’ conversations in 2014. Neighbors frequently and passionately shared concerns about developments changing our neighborhoods, and not always for the better. Quite a few of those neighbors lent that passion to community efforts urging the Metro Council to pass zoning ordinances geared toward preserving our neighborhoods’ character. In addition to requesting Conservation Zoning Overlay expansions in Eastwood and Lockeland Springs in the last year, East Nashvillians participated heavily in letter-writing campaigns to help pass three county-wide ordinances that were sponsored by District 3 Council Member Walter Hunt. BL2014-769: Accessory Dwelling Units, Detached broadened eligibility for “mother- in-law apartments,” BL2014-770: Two Family Dwellings signaled the end of the “umbilical-cord duplex” trend and eventually reached a compromise to limit “tall-skinny” duplexes, and BL2014-771: Contextual Overlay District created a new kind of Overlay that neighbors can apply if they want to limit new construction to be similar in height and lot coverage to the surrounding homes.
     But while attempts to shape or limit infill development grabbed the headlines in 2014, East Nashvillians also proved that yes, there are large developments that our neighbors will support.
     At the October 7 Metro Council public hearing, no less than four dense projects near the Gallatin Road corridor passed their public hearings. In Council District 5 (Scott Davis), a six-unit project at 1032 Maynor Ave. was approved that will bring new affordable units to the Maynor Place neighborhood. In Council District 7 (Anthony Davis), two projects in the 1100 block of Chester Avenue behind the Walgreens were approved with enthusiastic supporting comments from Chester Avenue residents. These include a multi-family project immediately behind the Walgreens and the 16-unit Woodland Grove cottage development further east on the same block. Woodland Street Partners worked with the Chester Avenue neighbors to envision both projects to fit the context of that street. A few blocks north, a 130-unit condominium project on Litton Avenue near Gallatin passed its public hearing. Kline Swinney Associates had presented this project at a CCSI neighborhood meeting and received that community’s approval earlier in the year.
     East Nashville neighborhoods also voiced support for two large projects on West Eastland near Gallatin. The proposed LIV East development project at 1034 West Eastland was previously covered in the September-October edition of The East Nashvillian. It will bring over 300 apartments plus some ground-level retail spaces and adjacent townhomes to the south side of West Eastland across from the Rite Aid parking lot, where a 65-unit apartment project with ground-level retail was also recently approved with neighborhood support. District 5 Council Member Scott Davis held at least six community meetings on the LIV East project and it ultimately passed its Council public hearing on December 2 with a letter of support from the Greenwood Neighbors organization and with representatives from three adjacent neighborhoods in attendance to support the project.
     What’s in store for 2015?
     One ordinance that will interest many East Nashvillians is BL2014-992, sponsored by Council Member Erica Gilmore (19), which seeks to address noise at construction sites in residential areas. The current Code limits allowable construction noise to not more than 70 dBA from construction equipment, including the transportation of materials to/ from the site, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Gilmore’s ordinance would extend that “quiet time” to 7 a.m.
     Council Member Burkley Allen (18) continues to work on two ordinances that seek to amend Metro Codes to permit Short- Term Rental Properties such as AirBnB as an approved accessory use in residential zoning areas (BL2014-909) with certain conditions pertaining to the number of rooms/guests, required hazard insurance, and other Codes requirements (BL2014-951). This legislation received passionate public comment at the November 4 Council public hearing with wide overlap between supporting and opposing testimony. As a general statement, the opposing testimony supported the intent of the ordinance, but offered suggestions for modifying the requirements, generally in the direction of relaxing them. Both companion ordinances appear to be close to passage at press time.
     The effort to balance preservation and development in East Nashville shows no sign of slowing down in 2015. On the preservation side, the Inglewood Neighborhood Association came one step closer to applying for a Conservation Zoning Overlay when late in 2014, the Metro Historical Commission received a state grant to pay for an expert to prepare an application for parts of Inglewood to be included in the National Register of Historical Places. That work could begin as early as February and will continue through the summer. As part of the Conservation Zoning Overlay process, a survey of property owners will likely be conducted during the same time period. A Contextual Overlay proposal for Rolling Acres and parts of East east of Porter also is being discussed at press time.
     On the development side, two recent proposals are being considered near the Porter/ Eastland intersection. At the intersection of Porter and Tillman in Eastwood, a large apartment project named Heritage East has been proposed. Nearby, March Edgerton is meeting with Rolling Acres neighbors to discuss a proposed 25-unit cottage development on property he owns near the intersection of Eastland and Skyview that abuts the Shelby Golf Course. And at the Hobson Church site at Greenwood and Chapel in Eastwood, Edgefield resident Clay Haynes is working on a project named Greenwood Village that seeks to reuse the historic church buildings as commercial spaces while adding single-family detached livework units around the perimeter of the site. These are but a few of the exciting development projects sure to garner neighborhood attention in the early months of 2015.