Wednesday, July 1, 2009

May Town proposal yanked

Metro Council approval appeared unlikely By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • July 1, 2009 After a year of contentious debate, standing-room-only public hearings and expensive impact studies, one of the largest development proposals in Nashville history is heading toward the back burner — for now. Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. said Tuesday that he will move to defer the May Town Center rezoning plan indefinitely when the council meets next week. Matthews, the council sponsor, acted less than a week after the Metro Planning Commission rejected the idea. The planning commission's disapproval meant that the potentially $4 billion project in rural Bells Bend would need votes from 27 of 40 council members. Some council members admitted that seemed highly unlikely. Ten council members expressed their opposition at the commission meeting, and others have joined the chorus since then. "It wouldn't do nothing for Goodlettsville," Councilman Rip Ryman said Tuesday, referring to the area he represents. "We need to be sure we're developing downtown." The May family wants to build corporate headquarters, housing, retail and hotels on about 550 acres in Bells Bend while preserving an additional 900-plus acres it owns there, including 250 it has pledged to Tennessee State University. Supporters say Nashville and Davidson County need the project to compete more effectively for jobs. Critics say it would ruin one of the last large, undeveloped areas of the city and generate intense traffic in parts of West Nashville across the Cumberland River from the bend. Matthews will have until the end of this council term in August 2011 to put the rezoning bill back on the agenda, council attorney Jon Cooper said. But the planning commission's recommendation is good for just one year, meaning the Mays would have to go back through the full rezoning process if Matthews waited until after June 25, 2010. All indefinitely deferred bills are withdrawn at the end of the council term. Councilman Greg Adkins, who represents Crieve Hall, said the proposal isn't ready for council approval. "I would vote against it," Adkins said. "It doesn't meet the sub-area (community) plan. … If they want to get it passed, they've got more work to do."

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