Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Three Things to Know From Last Night's Metro Council Meeting

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 8:50 AM

With the One Direction mob clamoring just down the street, the Metro Council convened Tuesday night at the Metro Courthouse. Here are three things to know:

Lonnell Matthews elected speaker pro tempore:

Lonnell Matthews
  • Lonnell Matthews
Councilman Lonnell Matthews was elected speaker pro tempore by one vote over Councilman Phil Claiborne. Council members voted to make Matthews the designated substitute in the event of Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors' absence by a vote of 19-18.

The vote was interesting for a couple reasons. First, it puts Matthews in yet another visible position in the council, ahead of his run for an at-large seat next year. He was also chairman of the council's Budget and Finance Committee the year before last.

Secondly, Claiborne, in remarks before the vote, made it clear that the end of his council term would be the end of his political career. What's interesting is that, having previously spent 31 years as an art teacher, Claiborne said he plans to spend more time on his art work after he leaves the courthouse. Neat.

Contextual Overlay District:

The council gave final approval to a bill that creates what sponsor Councilman Walter Hunt called a new zoning "tool" for communities that want it. The "contextual overlay district" includes regulations on the height and width, among other characteristics, of new construction. The idea, supporters say, is to give neighborhoods a way to ensure that new development isn't wildly out of place on their streets. The idea drew opposition from some developers.

The contextual overlay district would be optional, available to communities who request it. Hunt likened it to a spare tire that's there if you need it.

Hunt's bill is just the latest in a continuous stream of often-contentious zoning issues that have come before the council as Nashville neighborhoods search for ways to deal with rapid growth, rising housing prices, and changing neighborhoods. Another proposal aimed at the ubiquitous skinny houses was deferred Tuesday night, and the debate over a proposed conservation overlay has riled Sylvan Park in recent months.

Council honors Ken Jakes...kind of:

The council passed a memorializing resolution honoring Ken Jakes for his service to the community, particularly his charitable efforts through the produce company he owns — 18 members voted for the resolution and 14 abstained.

Jakes is a polarizing figure to be sure. We've covered his aggressive conservative watchdogging on a number of occasions. He also ran against Matthews for the District 1 council seat and later tried for an at-large seat. Both efforts failed.

Still several council members rose to praise Jakes. Among them: At-Large Councilman Charlie Tygard, who sponsored the resolution, and Councilmen Duane Dominy, Robert Duvall, and Tony Tenpenny.

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