Town Center overlay on the way out?

According to a story on the Mt. Juliet News web site, posted today, the committee appointed to review the town center overlay district has voted 6-3 to recommend repealing the town center overlay completely.

The Mt. Juliet News has details, along with an editorial urging the Planning Commission and City Commission to follow the recommendation of the committee and repeal.

Mayor Linda Elam called the town center overlay her baby, and she offered a series of amendments to the motion to recommend repealing it. All but one died for lack of a second.

It appears that the Mayor could find little support for the overlay district among the members of the committee.

There’s a carnival being held on the old elementary school property this weekend. You have to wonder, do the carnival rides comply with the town center overlay zoning?

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14 Comments

Filed under Mt. Juliet City Commission, Planning Commission

14 responses to “Town Center overlay on the way out?

  1. W

    So does RFMJ have an opinion on the new red light cameras coming to town? (source: Tennessean’s Wilson AM section on 6/3)

  2. Westsider

    I wonder how one device can give the owner of another device a ticket.

    Everytime I have ever been given a ticket the officer wanted my drivers license and made me sign the ticket. I thought that was to prove I was driving the car.

    A picture of the license plate on a car running a red light does not prove who was driving the car.

    Perhaps these cameras are taking pictures of the driver too.

  3. Butch Huber

    You have a right to cross-examine your accuser. Just ask Judge to have them bring the camera in for questioning. I think they will drop the charges instead. If the judge doesn’t allow it, appeal. The camera is the accuser, isn’ t? You are innocent until proven guilty, aren’t you? It’s worth a try anyway.

    Mostly, this will be a way to continue to run up bills for people, but if we were to follow the law, and not speed, we probably wouldn’t be getting a ticket. At least the camera won’t be prejudice or provide “professional courtesy”. The city makes quite a hull from tickets every year, this will certainly add to them.

  4. Paul Deyo

    I know that RFMJ has taken a position against the TCO and you know that I am all for it.

    When Elam appoints the same Chamber insiders that have been publicly railing against the TCO to a committee, what did she expect? This is her way to give developers what they want on the sly, while waving her hands in the air in protest.

    It seems now that the only potential legacies remaining for the Elam years are lawsuits against the city stemming from her vendettas and the ‘cone of silence’ around City Hall.

    Anyone here read ‘Animal Farm?’ The ‘pigs’ are starting to look alot like 1999.

  5. Paul Deyo

    I have an opinion on the red light cameras. Read another Orwell book, ‘1984’. Took an extra 25 years to get to Mt. Juliet.

  6. Paul Deyo

    The Planning Commission met tonight, and tonight was the night they were supposed to kill the Town Center Overlay.

    First, we had two absentees. One was the mayor, out sick, again seeking cover from participating in doing away with her ‘baby’. She did send a memo to be read into the minutes asking the Commission to go with her committee and vote to do away with the overlay. Remind me to never call her to babysit, not that I would anyway.

    The other absentee was a TC Committee member and the leading cheerleader for unfettered devolopment on the Commission. This set up a situation where the majority, showing far more integrity and consistency than the mayor, was poised to reject the committee recommendation.

    At this point the city attorney chimed in and said that since the Overlay is an ordinance, it can only be undone by an ordinance. So now they’ll look at it again next month, and the mayor will be put in the embarrassing position of voting against the only positive accomplishment that she can honestly take credit for. A plan that involved a lot of our money, a lot of time from some of us, and a lot of investment from those who have already built attractive structures that meet the overlay.

    Ah, where is ‘Concerned Citizen’ when we need him. This stuff is almost funny enough by itself that another installment should be easy to craft.

  7. Westsider

    I bet Mayor Elam now regrets putting Paul Deyo off the Planning Commission. He was always a big supporter of the Town Center Overlay District.

    Perhaps she was being too smart by half.

  8. Butch Huber

    There is legitimate power and then there is acquired power. Because enough people voted for Linda Elam she has “Legitimate power”. That doesn’t me that people can’t acquire enough power through influence to take back control of this city if they have the will to stand up and be counted. Linda has been able to operate at, around, or beyond the confines of the law for all too long now. There have been too many cute little deals being struck in this city for us to continue to stand by and watch it happen.

    What we need is a good ol’ fashion cabal for real. Because they have controlled the microphones and freedom of information they have had an ability to keep the positive results that come form citizen involvement at a minimum, but they can’t do that if enough citizens get involved. Think of it this way, if there were 10 people who agreed to get together an start an effort to limit the power and influence of this commission and those in office through legitimate and lawful means, and then those 10 found 10 people who were also willing to participate, and then again and then once more we would have 10,000 people involved. Considering the population of Mt. Juliet is only around 25,000, we would certainly have enough people involved to force this government to change its behavior.

    Remember, 10 x 10 x 10 x 10= 10,000, but 10 people who each recruit 10 people who recruit 10 people who recruit 10 people adds up to 11,110 people. 11,110 people is well more than half of all adults in Mt. Juliet and way more than is needed to control the outcome of elections in this city.

    There is a way to take back this city if we want to, we just have to be willing to find 10 people who believe government should act properly and follow the spirit of the law.

    The question comes to this point, do we really care about what our government does? Was Ray Justice right when he said, “most people feel that if their toilet flushes government must be working right”?

  9. Paul Deyo

    I had always assumed that the mayor gave me the boot because of my support for Kevin Mack in the election. We all know she has a problem with people who don’t bow before her authoritie. Now I’m wondering….

    When Linda was clumsily covering her tracks on the removal of Bob Reed (who openly supported Wendell) and I, she asked for statements from everyone as to why they wanted to stay or leave. This was right after Bob got ‘plaqued’. One of the things I pointed out was my support for the Town Center plan and the fact that I could help it prevail.

    I proposed something similar in my feeble campaign for District 1 in 2000. Many Tennessee towns the size of Mt. Juliet, including Lebanon, have a distinct central downtown. This is either a result of being around awhile or being the county seat. As Mt. Juliet has neither element, to create a sense of place requires planning. We all know the famous Bradshaw quote over the sign ordinance, “We ain’t Franklin!”. But do we really want to be a 50,000 population Mayberry?

    The much too invasive original proposal was exhaustively worked over and the end result was workable for everyone unless you believe that landowners and developers should dictate policy. Basically it boils down to this. Put the parking lot in the back and observe a few guidelines that are already in the architectural lexicon. Look at Sam Anderson’s wonderful Brookside Landing here or the Harris Teeter and HG Hill Center in Nashville’s Hillsboro Village. It’s not brain surgery.

    I am now wondering if the mayor viewed my input into the Town Center argument as a threat to what she had planned after the election. Look at who she put on her Town Center committee. We have already seen that she legislates by campaign contribution, and she sure sent out a bunch of mailers. Or perhaps she was offered help in another run for county mayor, although today’s announcement is a strong message for Elam to sit this one out.

    Not accusing, just wondering.

  10. A Political Observer

    Q: How many Linda Elams does it take to screw in a light bulb.

    A: One, to take credit for the lights working in the room after Kevin Mack installs the light bulb.

  11. Paul Deyo

    Mayor Elam’s ‘performance’ on the Town Center overlay reminds me of that scene in “Blazing Saddles” where Cleavon Little holds himself at gunpoint to escape from an uncomfortable situation at the Town Hall.

  12. Bobby Franklin

    I wrote the Town Center Overlay standards. There were many people who helped but I did write the ordinance. It was my job at the time.

    I did my best to adapt the recommendations of the consultant and incorporate the suggestions of the Town Center Committee. The finished product was a reflection of the will of the Town Center Committee and it was adopted and recommended by them unanimously. It was a good committee with every member taking great pride in the work they volunteered to do.

    The Planning Commission always had the authority to vary almost every standard set forth in the Town Center Overlay. That was the will of the Town Center Committee, the Planning Commission, and the Mt. Juliet City Commission at the time the ordinance was written, recommended, and approved. The thought was that there could be viable alternatives introduced by the development community to accomplish the same goals. The Planning Commission could allow adjustment of standard through variance.

    The Town Center Overlay District standards were never supposed to be “set in stone”.

    So what happened? It is no secret that Mayor Elam implemented all this. The Town Center Overlay District was her “baby”. The Mayor also appoints 8 out of the 9 members of the Planning Commission. Did she discourage her appointees from ever granting variance to a Town Center standard? I wonder.

    Are the original standards the problem or a total unwillingness to compromise on the part of the Planning Commission? Either way it is Elam’s “baby”.

  13. Paul Deyo

    In my years on the Planning Commission we allowed variances several times, although I didn’t always vote for them. I had the most sympathy with the applicants when Brookside Landing wanted signage that provided a visible listing of their tenants. At another time a firestorm was set off involving the now-completed Archer building. Bobby, I’m sure you remember that one. This was in the Village overlay, which I had less enthusiasm for than the TCO in general. I was willing to look at anything that didn’t compromise the overall TCO and after much public criticism the mayor relented. The building that resulted is actually quite nice for a compromise, apparently the mayor likes it so much I’ve heard she wants the city to buy it.

    My feeling is that it is preferable to keep the TCO, especially it’s fundamental tenets to create a sense of a central place and bring storefronts to the sidewalk. I think both of the potential buyers for the MJE property could build to meet the overlay, the way I’m reading the press reports they just don’t want to.

    It is not the city’s job to adjust to every whim of land speculators and national franchises. This opens a can of worms and makes city officials in general and the mayor in particular look like spineless idiots at best and corrupt politicians at worst.

  14. Bobby Franklin

    Paul,

    It should be no surprise that I always hoped the Overlay District would succeed. One startling part of the design process was the marketing report. It predicted that only a small amount of retail could ever be sustained in the center of town – and that report was done long before the approval of Providence Marketplace and Paddocks.

    I suppose wishful thinkers could ignore an ongoing 30 percent vacancy rate in the Valley Center less than a mile away, but those who did the marketing study couldn’t.

    The cost of developing within the Overlay District requires substantial mixed use. We never really had a mixed-use developer interested in the property – at least not when I worked there.

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