Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Metro Council OKs downtown noise bill

Vote on single beer sales is deferred By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • February 4, 2009 Downtown Nashville will be a bit quieter under legislation approved Tuesday by the Metro Council. But another bill backed by downtown quality-of-life advocates, a proposal to ban sales of single beers in the area, was delayed so sponsors can work to gather more support. The council unanimously approved the downtown noise ordinance, which represented a compromise after tourism officials balked at the first version of the bill. The final ordinance will limit recorded music to 85 decibels but won't restrict live music, one of Music City's calling cards. "It allows downtown residents to get a good night's sleep while preserving our reputation as a live-music mecca," said Councilman Mike Jameson, who represents downtown and sponsored the legislation. The council voted to defer the single-beer sales ban after adopting several amendments. Stores within the downtown interstate loop would be prohibited from selling single bottles or cans of beer. Supporters say the change would rein in vagrancy, litter, panhandling and public intoxication. The amendments call for the proposed law to expire in one year, and they remove an exception for craft and specialty beers that are often sold only as singles. But the changes didn't impress beer distributors, who remain opposed because they feel existing laws can address the problems cited by sponsors, lobbyist Joe Hall said. Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, the bill's lead sponsor, said she deferred it so the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and others can offer their opinions. "We're going to get some more weigh-in from other experts who deal with this in the city," Gilmore said. Tree ordinance approved In other business, the council:> >>Unanimously approved a residential tree density ordinance. It would require residential developers to put 14 tree units on each acre, excluding the building lots. A unit could contain one or more trees. Councilwoman Megan Barry, one of the sponsors, said the law gives developers incentives to save existing trees, which count more than new trees toward the density requirements. >> Deferred three bills concerning Habitat for Humanity's plans for a 350-house subdivision in northeast Nashville. Two of the bills would cancel Habitat's planned unit development district, forcing the organization to revise its plans, and rezone its land from multi-family to single-family, dramatically reducing the density. Metro attorneys advised the council to reject the bills, arguing that courts might rule the city targeted Habitat specifically and affected a particular class of people disproportionately. The Department of Law's memo said 93 percent of Habitat residents are members of minority groups.

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