I've caught wind of a storm brewing over in West Nashville, where District 20 Councilman Buddy Baker is apparently raising the ire of his constituents in an attempt to railroad through some industrial rezoning.
There are a few blocks on the corner of 43rd and Georgia that Baker seeks to consolidate and expand via road abandonment. Despite (recent) widespread community opposition, including a petition, Baker has held no community meetings, and appears to have no intention of doing so.
Most residents polled knew nothing about this proposal at all. It hasn't been getting a lot of mainstream press, although the City Paper has covered it. Some local blogs are picking up the slack as well — mainly Mike Byrd at Enclave, who has been all over it.
Unfortunately, though, this just isn't one of those sexy issues that's likely to grab headlines. It seems pretty clear that this works to Baker's advantage: He wants this (fairly radical) zoning change to slip under the radar. Why is this rezoning such a big deal?
To quote the website:
"Residential zoning and Industrial zoning are at opposite ends of the spectrum of land usage. Residential land is rarely rezoned for other uses, even low-impact commercial usages. Rezoning all the way to industrial is an extreme change and should almost never happen. In an established neighborhood such as this it is unforgiveable to reduce residential parcels in favor of industrial land."
The ultimate goal, although still unspecified at this point, appears likely to be a "consolidation of parcels south to the Interstate into one large industrial swath suitable for resale for heavy-impact industrial uses, such as a waste transfer plant." A similar waste-plant proposal back in 2002 was nixed because, at the time, the plot was too small — a deficiency this rezoning move aims to fix.
So you can imagine why residents might be a little pissed, since their supposed representative is moving to bring a massive heavy-industrial waste plant into their neighborhood — at the behest of a lone campaign contributor. And what's more, without a single attempt to get community input or feedback.
Although not technically related beyond the normal shenanigans of Metro Council backroom dealings, it's interesting to note that Bradley has also connected the dots between Baker's contributors, the land-owners, and Eric Crafton's ill-fated but embarrassing "English First" legislation, which Mike Byrd has summarized here. Now the same forces that pushed this bigoted, job-killing legislation are seeking to spread blight to a burgeoning residential neighborhood in West Nashville. Your Nashville Metro Council at work, ladies and gentlemen. Can I get an SNL slow-clap, please?