Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Karl Dean "Voted" Against May Town Center Rezoning?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 1:31 PM

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Before last week's planning commission vote on the May Town rezoning there was some public kvetching that Mayor Karl Dean was sitting out the whole controversy, refusing to weigh in on the biggest county land use issue in many years, if not decades. Writing in the City Paper, for instance, Liz Garrigan described Dean's public sentiments on the issue as "vague, noncommittal, muddy." And perhaps they were -- until last Thursday's vote.

It's easy to forget that by virtue of Metro Charter chapter 5, section 11.502, the mayor is a voting member of the planning commission. Mayors rarely if ever bothered to attend or vote at commission meetings until Bill Purcell, in the fall of 2002, decided he wanted to start sending a designated representative, so he asked his Law Department director at the time -- Karl Dean! -- if that would be legal. Dean issued an opinion saying yes: "Even though the Metropolitan Charter is silent on this issue, the mayor has the authority to designate a representative under the authority of Tennessee Code Annotated 13-4-101(a)." That section of the Tennessee code says that on any municipal planning commission, one member "shall be the mayor of the municipality or a person designated by the mayor."

Ever since, there has been a mayor's representative with voting rights on the planning commission. Dean's representative is Andrée LeQuire, who at last week's meeting made a motion to disapprove amending the area's detailed design plan, and on the critical 5-5 vote went against May Town. Should LeQuire's actions be taken as the equivalent of action by the mayor himself? Here's how her name appears on the planning commission's letterhead; you make the call.

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