(Conversations from Magnolia Trace are now taking place on the Next Door site for that neighborhood. If you want to get a Next Door conversation going in your neighborhood, I will help you set up a site.)
May 3, 2016
From Richard J.
There is one downtown (Maney Ave) resident who is a builder looking for older houses in the downtown area to buy, rehab and sell. This type of action will drive whatever happens on the square. Living downtown is becoming trendy; the trick is to keep it affordable.
I agree, and the church could become part of what makes downtown trendy and attractive to Millennials. A combination museum and place where local artists can rent studio space cheaply helped preserve a 100-plus-year-old church in Indianapolis and has helped revitalize the surrounding neighborhood there.
April 26, 2016
From Jim Wirshing
Keith, I appreciate all of the time and energy that you HAVE invested in this community awareness project. Your commentary has been valuable in that it enlightened many of us to what other communities are doing or have done, and how it compares with the issues currently facing M’boro. I will personally miss you, and the humor that you injected into this process. Godspeed, my friend.
P.S. I offer my apologies for this delayed comment. I had to go play with my grandchildren in Omaha, NE, and therefore I know that you’ve made a wise choice.
Many thanks for the kind words, Jim. You can see that I am conflicted and am finding it hard to withdraw. Already I have used the Richard M. Nixon escape hatch from my “final” post. I find it hard to turn my back on the former United Methodist church in town if a way can be found to preserve it without having it be a drain on taxpayers. So it seems I am hitting the streets again.
But apathy here is overwhelming. It is hard to save residents here from themselves.That is evident in the news that only three people have filed to run for three council seats in the 2016 election. There is a lot to be said for those three candidates, but the lack of interest in running for the club is unhealthy.
As for the mayor’s move to limit my speaking, I thought it over and realized this is no loss. In general, speaking to this council is a waste of time. A 20% success rate is probably overoptimistic. I never spoke at meetings, for obvious reasons, when I was a real journalist. I do expect to wrap this up eventually because all the hobbies I had looked forward to pursuing when I retired have been sliding. I don’t want to have any regrets about that later. But I will be around for a while longer. I hope you will, too.
March 7, 2016
From Jim Wishing
The council is concerned that the technology changes too fast? Do any of them own personal computers? Moore’s Law postulates that integrated circuit capacity will double every 18-24 months. Has that stopped any of us from owning personal computers? Better yet, has it caused any of us to lease them rather than purchase them? Let’s have the integrity to at least analyze some legitimate data. What does it cost to install the current technology? How much do we “earn” per year? Do our “earnings” outweigh the cost of replacing that technology every 3-5 years? Oh, yeah, and how often is the current contractor REQUIRED to upgrade the technology that they originally installed?
Your best comment ever. The contract expires this week. I haven’t seen an agenda yet, but you can probably tell them this and more in person. Ah! Ah! Not more than three minutes. I can’ imagine they will renew it without taking public comments. Smotheman has been a lone voice of reason in this.
From Jim Wirshing on our 2035 Bird’s Notes summay of the 2035 plan
While aerospace suppliers and remanufacturers certainly can enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the educational community, it would seem that a focus on the academic end of the spectrum would be more in keeping with all of the other recommendations of the Kendig-Keast report.
I can only add that my impression of this chapter is that it reminds me of a paper I did in college when I put off writing until the last minute and pulled an overnight to get it out on time. There doesn’t seem to be much meat, I think it’s padded and there are some proofing errors. But I was working from a draft that was handed out. I don’t think a final version has been posted on line yet.
February 16, 2016
Cindy Sue commented on our post about the race among cities to attract talented people from the Millennial Generation:
“So the best way to attract them is to offer them little or no responsibility and a lot of fun?”
My reply: I will give you the party line. These are talented people who play hard but also work hard. Everyone wants to attract them because it is the best way to get white collar jobs. Right now a lot of our commercial and industrial development involves warehousing, which doesn’t provide quality jobs or large numbers of them. The current thinking is that the labor market — at least at the upper levels — has been stood on its head. Instead of workers following companies to get good jobs, the companies with the best jobs are locating where the talented Millennials want to live. And the Millennials crave action when they are away from work.
February 11, 2016
Dear Chicken, I appreciate your transparency in stating that this is a long post. So what? It’s all news that we need to know, and I appreciate that you provide it to us so reliably. May the chicken hawks’ shadow never darken your sky!
Thanks for the kind words, chicken fancier. Having a bit of politician in me, transparency doesn’t come easily. I am weighing seriously whether I should continue this effort. I have enjoyed getting involved with the city and meeting the actors in the drama, but I am nearly 75, and time is precious to me. I have a million hobbies I waited all my working life to turn to when I finally retired in 2001. I have not been bored a single say since I walked out of that Dow Jones building in NJ. But this civic effort has been so consuming that I’m back postponing work on my hobbies. I am hanging in with this but just barely. I don’t want to look back at things left undone and regret it later.
January 29, 2016
From Jim Wirshing:
Like you said, we’re in the ballpark. I’m not confident that it is possible to EVER get statistics from multiple sources that will legitimately compare apples to bicycles – or whatever that phrase is. Take for example that number of people with a bachelors degree or greater. With the state’s largest (student pop.) university, don’t you think we should rank a little higher, if only because we’re blessed with SO many residents who’ve earned Ph.Ds? Then again, how is our younger population skewed by the fact that we have 10’s of thousands of undergrad students; 20-25% of whom rotate in or out every year, by the way,
Yeah, the numbers are useful, but understanding their meaning is priceless!
Once again your point is well taken and your logic impeccable. I thought I was being so scientific. You’re correct about MTSU also. Are our learned profs avoiding the census? Anyway, I am baking the chicken today in my humble pie.
January 26, 2016
From Jim Wirshing:
Overall, this development sounds favorable. The one detractor that I notice is that these are being marketed as LUXURY apartments, yet the parking requirement has been reduced in two different ways. I’m not confident that luxury and congestion are compatible terms.
Good point. The reduction seemed minor to me when I was at the meeting. Maybe you should be gaspchoke’s meeting correspondent, and I should stay home and watch Duck Dynasty or Hot In Cleveland. I think the one limit on growth is our infrastructure, which is already stressed. I don’t dig into things the way I used to when I was being paid, so maybe I am writing from ignorance.. There is a plan to improve part of Middle Tnnessee, but nothing major on the boards for Manchester Pike. My feeling is that we are going to build a lot of homes and not worry about gridlock. That means the quality of our lives goes down, and I am not sure what we get in return. I want to hear more and at least have a debate on the subject. This is not the same as being anti-growth.
January 25, 2016
With all due respect to the professional abilities and technical accuracy of Kendig Keast’s forecasts: What If… there’s no room for all those folks that are expected to come? What if we make a conscious decision NOT to allow further development?
Now, I’m not advocating that extreme option, but what if we choose a middle ground? Why don’t we decide what overall density we are comfortable with, then facilitate development accordingly? Maybe we’re willing to accommodate another 50,000, or 100,000, or even 250,000 people, or maybe we’ve already got more than we care to have. I don’t know the answer, but I’m willing to ask the question.
When I grew up in South Florida, all of the development was within 5 miles of the ocean. Today, you can drive 15+ miles inland, and there are still more houses being built. Just because they were able to drain the swamp (The Everglades) doesn’t mean that the alligators are gone. Now they’ve even introduced exotic non-native snakes!
The point being – unplanned, free-range development isn’t necessarily a good thing. If people are flocking to middle Tennessee, and Murfreesboro/Rutherford County doesn’t have a place for them. then there are plenty of other rural nearby counties that will undoubtedly welcome the influx. Just because I’m willing to be friendly and/or do business with someone doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice my quality-of-life in order to accommodate them.
You hit it exactly. My old brain wasn’t thinking. I took the “they’re coming and we have to provide for them” line without questioning it. I agree. I’m not anti-growth either as long as growth is in the interest of people already here and not just the people building apartments, condos, townhouses and homes.
It took a man commenting at that homeowners meeting to get me thinking. There is no law that says we have to provide for everyone who wants to come here. When my agent showed me the house I bought here, I thought it was a bargain. If he had nothing to show me in my price range I would have looked elsewhere. You said it best. I have no idea what a proper ultimate size of this town should be. But the ultimate decision should be made on what size is best for the town and not on the idea we are obligated to provide for everyone who wants to live here.
I covered city politics in Fremont, Calif. from 1973-79. When I arrived, the town had 126,000 people, about the size of Murfreesboro now. It was a lovely place to live — a plateau framed by mountains on one side and the San Francisco Bay on the other. Its population has doubled since I left. I have been through the place a couple of times in the past ten years. What I enjoyed about Fremont, in my view, has been lost. I felt a crush of people . I would not want to live there, and their street system is as well planned as possible.
As I said, I am not against growth. But it does seem that the infrastructure here is already stressed. How much we grow, in my opinion, should be limited by how much we can improve our roads to accommodate that growth. We’re under no obligation to lose the great life we have here in exchange for unbridled and unplanned growth. The line from “Field of Dreams” is true: “If you build it they will come.” The flip side is also true: “If you don’t build it they won’t come.” I, too, have no answer to the question”what size should we be, but it is worth debating. Kendig Keast isn’t doing that.
January 21, 2016
From Jim Wirshing
I’m happy to hear this news. My wife and I enjoy the Fresh Market, and I’m always glad to see vacant commercial locations get new tenants.
Me too. I’m the guy who has been in the blueberry quandary.I believe a similar store, Sprouts, is opening on Memorial Blvd. near Walmart,.
January 14, 2016
From Jim Wirshing
While I generally oppose the idea of governments owning more than the minimum necessary property required to provide community services, The City also represents all of us collectively, and therefore should have the ability to enter a fair-market bid for this property – especially if Franklin Synergy Bank is anxious to sell before the detailed area study is completed. It’s probably somewhat ironic, but I find myself having a far greater appreciation for historic places and things as I speed down that highway of life beyond age 50.
If redevelopment is going to work, government often has to step in and assemble parcels. There is no intent here to do anything other than make this block more attractive to a developer than it would be under two owners. A second goal is to have some say in the outcome. The city is looking for something better than a Dollar General on this property.
As for speeding down the highway of life, it’s only the toll booth at the end that bothers me.
January 8, 2016
From Jim Wirshing:
I wouldn’t say that this will be as simple as a Plug & Play computer program, but we aren’t being asked to try anything that hasn’t already succeeded elsewhere. All that we need to do is establish a vision for what we want the Boro to be, approve the enabling legislation, then muster the fortitude to put it into action. Putting that into a checklist format – that warms my military engineering heart – the steps would be:
1. A Community Leader (Mayor) needs to cast a vision for the community to get excited about and want to support.
2. The City Staff and Elected Politicians need to adapt our existing ordinances, and possibly delete or create others, that will facilitate and expedite that journey. NOTE: This isn’t a goal with a definable endpoint, it’s a journey, which should be periodically revised and improved.
3. The Chamber of Commerce, developers, business organizations, and social support networks need to be encouraged to “get on board” and utilise the synergy of this vision to achieve their own objectives while simultaneously benefiting the community at large.
I think they have the execution part down pat, as you will see from a story I’m about to write about a historic Church on East College St. The tricky part is what the vision will be. The consultant says to thrive we have to make this an exciting place that talented people will want to come to. I’ve heard some concilmen say the town really jumps at night on the square. When I left the meeting at 10 p.m., I took a drive up to E. College St. to look at an old church that was featured at the meeting. Jumping? It wasn’t even weakly hopping. Even the traffic lights were meekly flashing instead of operating normally.
By the way, does your three-point practical plan mean I’m not getting my single pylon suspension bridge? Reality bites.
January 6, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
Some things just seem intuitively obvious. Pair up an Innovation District with its incubators and accelerators, an on-site annex of the local Chamber of Commerce, and a little added synergy like a powerhouse university (MTSU) and some local utilities (could our two electrical providers merge and possibly add a new or existing cable/internet provider?), and we actually could give Chattanooga a run for their money! All that it takes is a leader with the vision and the fortitude to take our community into a new frontier. I pray that we those leaders in positions of authority, and that they will muster the courage to take us on that journey.
My reply: (Bend an ear and listen to my version)
Good idea on the electrical providers providing Internet a la Chattanooga. We have few Internet options here.
I have hopes for the mayor and councilmen Shacklett, LaLance and Smotherman. Paraphrasing Getrude Stein, there is no “there” here. Franklin and Chattanogoa both have a “there”. When I went to Chattanooga to interview one of the top planners at the regional planning agency (the planner oddly requested that his/her name not be used) I felt an energy and optimism in the city. I felt a similar energy in Franklin when I took the haunted houses tour last Halloween. I haven’t found that here. I’ll be talking about a sense of place tomorrow. It is a critical ingredient to attracting the best and brightest workers.
When I relocated to M’boro 9.5 years ago, my real estate agent made a point of promoting the [then] new Gateway area, where the hospital, and so many healthcare and supporting businesses have relocated. It seems that The Council had the foresight and fortitude to do something good a decade ago. Perhaps they can even improve upon that concept and do something similar – with a business park theme – before Joe B. Jackson Pkwy is totally lost to hodge-podge development.
You’ve left me speechless since you are saying the same thing that has been running through my mind. I have hope that the consultant is teaching them the importance of planning and that it is sinking in. Call me a crazy optimist.
December 16, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
We need some salt to go with that recipe. I’m hearing the terms chain store and franchise being used interchangeably – which isn’t necessarily correct. Some (perhaps most) franchises are owned by local business people or regional business groups. A few are national in scope. Sure, you might plant 100 local small businesses in the same footprint as one Super Target, but what’s your time worth? You can gather several shopping carts full of merchandise in one Target in about the same amount of time that it will take you to walk from Local Small Store #1 to Local Small Store #100. Maybe we don’t need to add Walmarts #6, 7, & 8 as much as we need to strive for some BALANCE. How’s that old aphorism go again – All things in moderation?
I believe the benefits of balance and moderation are highly exaggerated. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this dumb blog, hanging flyers on doors and going to council meetings.
On the other hand, much as it pains me, I see your point. I once interviewed a former vice president of McDonalds, who invented the Quarter Pounder. He believed the Big Mac appealed mainly to kids, and that there should be something on the menu for adults. As a reward for his services, Ray Kroc awarded him two franchises in Fremont, Calif. He gave each a theme — one was a riverboat and the other a carnival, complete with a carousel. He lived in town and was active there. The author’s point, however, is that whether an outlet in a chain is company owned or a franchise, more sales revenue dollars are leaving the economy and going back to the parent. Those are the rules with franchises.
I think both you and he are arguing for the same thing — moderation and balance. There isn’t much danger mom and pop stores are going to drive the big chains out of town, but the reverse is certainly true. When I lived in Fremont, my home was a definite fixer upper. If I had a problem on a project, I could always go around the corner to my local hardware man for advice. He was like Bob Vila on “This Old House”, except he once stopped by my place after he closed one Saturday to give me advice on a gutter project. Bob Vila never did that. By the time I left town he was gone. Sometimes a person will answer a question at a chain (if you can find him), but it isn’t the same.
You and the author are talking about two different things. He is discussing ways to make the local economy more vibrant. You are talking about personal convenience. Maybe more walking isn’t a bad thing. On the other hand, as a person who has done a lot of it lately, its benefits are exaggerated, too. I haven’t lost any weight.
December 12, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
I believe that it is useful to contemplate the possible pitfalls and shortcomings of legislation prior to actually authorizing it. Thus, I have to wonder WHY colored lights would be authorized from Nov 15 – Jan 15, but not during the other 10 months of the year. Might it be due to sunspot activity, or phases of the moon, or seasonal colorblindness? Of course not. It is due to the christian decorating traditions of our nation. And, by extrapolation, doesn’t that mean that we would then be discriminating against any other religious traditions that might utilize colored lights during those excluded ten months? Am I the only person in M’boro who realizes that the ACLU just loves to initiate legal battles over nonsense like this? Let’s save ourselves some legal fees and tax increases, and just torpedo this bargeload of excrement.
Actually, I goofed by not making it clear that the regulations are all about lights and signs in non-presidential districts and the commercial parts of mixed use districts. In your subdivision, you can put up your colored lights and take them down whenever you want. Unless, of course, you have a HOA that doesn’t like lights.. And if you happen to be a Druid and want to celebrate the Spring Equinox you can do so with a clean conscience and colored lights on your home. You can save your indignation and your supply of torpedoes for some other barge of excrement.
At the meeting, David Ives, the assistant city attorney, said the original regulations on string lighting took place before he came here. He said he believes there originally was a total ban on string lighting in commercial districts. Apparently. it was relaxed to allow colored string lights during Christmas after several businesses complained.
From Tim Russo:
These guys are arguing over string lightning and signs….while we turn neighborhoods into heavy industrial, 55MPH in a 35 residential death traps? We are so far gone it is sickening.
I would encourage you to get active and fight for what you believe. The consultant had proposed a “business park” (office and research) designation for Joe B. Jackson. I have it from a good source that he was pressured to change that recommendation to “light industry”, which is easier to change to” heavy industry” than “business park” would be. I have punished my feet by delivering somewhere between 800-900 flyers on this issue. I covered the Joe B. Jackson neighborhood over there and the one next to it. If you live there see if you can organize a protest on the speed issue. If gaspchoke.com can help call on us.The fight goes on and election time draws near — errr sort of.
It would be good to tell us your solution. Speed bumps? Safety cameras? The city has only four cameras operating and probably can’t afford more. Police speed traps? You have an issue, but if you don’t raise it and try to bring pressure on the politicians, you are reduced to griping. Write a piece on your plan, and I will run it as long as you don’t get me sued for libel.
It’s also good to keep a sense of humor and not get so worked up over the drama unfolding before your eyes.
December 10, 2015
From Tim Russo:
Very well said Jim (Wirshing). I keep wondering why we vote for the lowest common denominators to represent us. I feel this city is truly run by some with the lowest IQ’s in the state.
Do you know what their answer was to speeding on Joe B Jackson in the 35 MPH residential area? A sign warning of the area is 35MPH.
People ignore the one sign, so a second sign should do the trick.
We are run by mental midgets.
Now is the end of my rant.
Tim, it is good to hear from you again. I don’t agree with your rant, but I’m glad you checked in.
One of the first things you do as a reporter is size up the mental ability of each member of any governmental body you cover. You want to see who the leaders are, which people do their homework and which ones just slide along.
I’ve been at almost every council meeting since last April. The last thing I want to do is get into names, but I see four sharp minds on this council. By that I mean people who do their homework, ask intelligent questions and are the kind of people who make you want to listen when they talk.
I also rate the city manager and his staff here highly.
The problem is not intelligence on this council. It’s money in politics — the same issue we see nationally. The council is run like a private club in which the interests that pay in the form of campaign contributions get to play. The rest of us are irrelevant. If you doubt what I am saying just go up on the square to the elections office and ask to see each member’s most recent campaign finance reports as I did.
The clearest sign of this attitude is the speaking policy. Basically, the people who pay to play can speak as long as they want. At one meeting, John Harney, an influential real estate man here, went 7 1/2 minutes without getting interrupted. He was clearly making a personal comment on his history and development philosophy.
The public can only speak for three minutes — and only at public hearings and oral communications. The latter happens only once a month, before the TV cameras come on.
It’s not as if this limit s necessary. There are few speakers at oral communications. and most public hearings are closed with no one wishing to speak. There is no line of people spilling out the door and down the street waiting to come to the podium. At only one meeting I have attended — the one on Joe B Jackson in July — was there any justification for speaker rationing.
That happens to be the same meeting Mr. Harney went 7 1/2 minutes without anyone telling him to wrap it up. There is no way to prove it, but I had the feeling he could have gone 30 minutes without being told to quit.
Most meetings are over by 9 p.m. When I was doing this for a living in Fremont, Calif., I considered myself blessed if I got out of a meeting by 11 p.m. And 1 a.m. was not unusual. They had no limit on speaking. If someone clearly abused the process, the moderator handled it on a case-by-case basis.
What we have now is basically some politicians thumbing heir noses at the public. It isn’t exactly “your democracy in action,” but it’s they system we have to work with.
December 4, 2015
Comment from Jim Wirshing:
A loophole to one person is an obstacle avoided to another. There is a liquor store a few hundred yards from city hall that is predominately windowfront at street level, but which has been 100% filled with signs during the past 5-6 years that I’ve noticed it. Does that change the security scenario for the police? Not likely. The tiny windows on the entry doors are unobscured, and give a clear line-of-sight to the cash register, while the interior walls and displays obstruct such a view from all other angles. Do firefighters care? Probably not. They know that the place is filled with flammable liquids, and it is a lot easier to penetrate a glass window covered with a paper sign than it is to smash through a solid brick wall. Can anyone articulate the REASON that this legislation is necessary? I may not like every business sign that I see, but I’m also not compelled to do business with them. I certainly don’t like a lot of the social media that I see posted, but it is protected under their First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so I scroll right past it. WHY does our council feel the need to meddle in our personal and business affairs? If a sign, or a shrub, or a structure obscures a driver’s safe view of on-coming traffic, then THAT should be regulated. All of this other nonsense is outrageous! (Rant Complete)
Your rant is well written and the example of the liquor store is a good one. I suspect safety has nothing to do with the ordinance. The real reason is aesthetics, and safety is the peg they used to hang their hats on. String lights around windows were banned in the document that came to council. They don’t create a safety hazard for first responders. If police and fire need a clear line of sight into stores, the ordinance should also require front windows (not brick walls) on stores and outlaw the use of curtains or blinds on these windows.
On the other hand, I spent seven years in Fremont, Calif, where signs were strictly regulated. It’s more pleasant driving there (or was in the 1970s) than it is being assaulted by ugly signs everywhere while driving. I originally came here because Forbes recommended Smyrna as one of the great retirement cities. When I came in on Sam Ridley Parkway for the first time, I was turned off by all the sign clutter and started looking elsewhere for a home.
I, too, find a lot of the posts on Facebook annoying, but I defend their right to disagree with me. The problem is I get sucked in and comment when someone is repeating false information from a satirical website as fact. I am no Obama fan, but it is not true that he appeared on Meet The Press and suggested changing the National Anthem to I Want To Teach The World To Sing. Yet a former high school classmate of mine was circulating this story as fact on Facebook. He also claimed Obama was the first president to refuse to sign Eagle Scout certificates. I doubt any president has ever signed them, but I wouldn’t know. I topped out at First Class. If true, it would be like refusing to kiss babies.
(Response rant complete)
December 3, 2015
Comment from Jim Wirshing:
It will be interesting to see if they have so much as reviewed the industry standard for signage, much less, whether they have actually incorporated any of it.
I can’t understand a word you’re saying when you get technical. I’m just a dumb chicken. If you’re having trouble sleeping, here is a link to the city’s announcement on the item:
I’m looking forward to that work on Middle TN Blvd. In fact, I thought that it was supposed to start about a year ago, at least, they had the mobile sign stationed at Mercury Blvd & Middle TN Blvd in anticipation.
Conducting those studies on those two districts should give the community and local developers some direction on what to do. I just hope that they can effectively integrate the proposals from the 2035 Plan.
1, The story was delayed because I went up to Columbus the next day to see the Ohio State-Michigan State game with my son on Nov 21st. It was cold and rainy, and the team closest to our hearts played like the Little Sisters of the Poor. It took the win over Michigan Saturday to clear my writer’s block. Michigan is a lot like mental Ex-Lax when they suck.
2. I don’t see any problem on coordinating with the 2035 plan. I firmly believe that people never lie when they speak in public at council meetings. The consultant, Randy Caldwell of Ragan Smith, promised to turn cartwheels in order to get community input, to work closely with Kendig Keast and to bake cupcakes every Sunday for the life of the contract.
November 5, 2015
From Jim Wirshing
Regarding that final item – the revision to the Planned Residential District. If I recall correctly from one or more of your earlier articles, a deed restriction IS NOT enforceable by the City. If a deed restriction is being violated, the only way to seek corrective action is for the affected neighbors to join together and seek legal action against the violator. So, if I’ve got this right, all we’ll have to do is coerce our neighbors to throw their money into a lawyer’s pocket so that a judge can determine whether or not we are adversely impacted, and MAYBE obtain some relief. Yeah, that should work well. NOT!!!
Everything you say is correct. In the earlier article Mr. Harney tried to sell his rezoning by saying he would put deed restrictions on the property so it couldn’t be used for such things as an oil refinery, meat packer or massage parlor during the 30-year term of the covenant.
The city attorney pointed out that this was a hollow gesture because a deed restriction is a private contract. The city has nothing to do with it. The only people who can enforce a deed restriction would be individual residents who are affected by the violations and take the violator to court. Now if there were a HOA here it could go to court on behalf of the residents if someone put in a massage parlor there. But we don’t have a HOA. I or some other resident would have to enforce it.
In yesterday’s piece, the developer was referring to deed restrictions at an existing development which has a HOA. So if anyone violates the deed restrictions by not parking his car in the garage the HOA can fine him and eventually take him to court. Again, the city there is completely out of the picture.
Ironically, Mr. Harney built these homes where I live and attached a ton of deed restrictions to them. I just did a piece on this in our Next Door site. We can’t have chickens, we have to have garage door openers in working order and our hedges can’t be higher than 42 inches. There are some things the restrictions allow, but we can’t have any fun while we are doing them.
At one time, we had a semi HOA here. To enforce all ihs rules, Mr. Harney set up an architectural board with himself, Bob Parks and a third person serving. The homeowners had no rights. When a vacancy occurred on the board, the remaining members simply picked someone to fill it.
We are blessed that the board died. So I can leave my garage door open, lift it manually if I choose and let my hedge grow over 42 inches.
That is the trouble with HOAs. Governments at least have some rules they are supposed to operate under. HOAs are private governments that write their own rules. The rules run with the land. By buying a house in a development you are also signing a contract to abide by any deed restrictions attached to the property.
Gotta run. I just noticed in the deed restrictions that Mr. Harney can trim my hedge and bill me for it if it gets over 42 inches. .Even thought it’s dark, I’d better get out there and do the work before he does.
November 4, 2015
From Jim Wirshing
I read somewhere that those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. This is beginning to look like a very vicious cycle.
I read that same book. It was in the outhouse on the farm where I grew up. It had two uses. It’s funny to go through the motions of hiring planing consultants so you can then ignore them. There are also several examples of councilmen obviously not doing their homework — as when one (I won’t name him) asked what a TIF is. It’s explained clearly in Chaper II and again in Chapter VII. A TIF is what we have when you and I don’t agree on something.
November 3, 2015 From Jim Wirshing
It looks like the only way to get these Council Members not to do things that we don’t want them to do, is to vote them out of office! Given that they still have a few years remaining on their current term, I’ll join the effort to send some e-mails. Maybe we can at least make them feel guilty for violating our trust.
The terms of Washington, Shacklett and Smotherman expire in 2016. The others are with us until 2018. I think they wanted to quash the consultant’s recommendations privately. It may be possible to embarrass them for undermining the consultant they hired. Anything you can do over there for me I will appreciate.
October, 28, 2015
From Jim Wirshing
I lived in Kansas for 368 days (not that I was counting), and I never did find that man behind the screen. What I’ve learned over the years in my engineering career is that consultants are eager to rebrand things, and give you the same stuff that you had all along, only with a new name attached to it. I’m suspicious of how such a new program will operate in actuality. For example – at what point does a Rural designation evolve into a Suburban Estate or Suburban Residential? Is someone watching a clock and making note of when every parcel suddenly jumps into the pool of properties that may be developed within the coming twenty years? No. Wait a minute! Isn’t ALL of Rutherford County expected to double in population within the next 20 years? Gosh, perhaps I’ve stumbled upon the first chink in the armor. This proposal might well be an excellent revision, but for God’s sake, let’s make sure it is operationally viable before we slap that rubber stamp on it!
Now you are hitting close to home.I’ve been rebranding the same verbiage for years and passing it off as something new. I don’t think it is a bad idea simplifying the zoning jigsaw puzzle since I am no longer a working journalist in danger of losing good stories. The chink in the armor is the ease with which developers can amend a comprehensive plan and get the density they want without providing the goodies. Yes, Rutherford County is part of that population boom. I keep forgetting to look up the actual projection. With that, I remain,
Yours in Jane Jacobs
October 15, 2015
From Jim Wirshing
That Technology Center sounds like it will be a great asset to the community. I hope that the meeting rooms will be equipped with projectors, whiteboards, etc., and that some thought has gone into the operational hours and staffing requirements.
I understand the council’s concern about possible fireworks loopholes. Here’s my question: “Is it the government’s responsibility to criminalize every possible means of morally reprehensible activity, or should the government simply outlaw the undesired result?” For example, should we legislate against murder, terrorism, and violent destruction of property, or should we prohibit the simultaneous possession of diesel fuel and nitrogen-based fertilizer (Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma City)? Should we outlaw human mutilation, or should we outlaw steak knives (Lorraina Bobbit)?
I’m all for legislation to control steak knives, but the American Cutlery Association is simply too powerful for any bill like that to pass Besides, according to my reading of the Second Amendment, it gives us the right to bear steak knives when cutting meat.
As for the technology center, I am excited about it. But then I get delirious whenever someone proposes something creative and new. I just can’t help myself.
October 8, 2015
From Jim Wirshing
I managed to watch the live broadcast on the City TV cable channel. I watched the Mershon Drive issue unfold, just like you said. We had to read between the lines, but it was obvious that the roadway connection will happen in a Master Planning meeting, and that community residents will have no input. How sad that we’ve allowed our political system to devolve to the point that the bureaucrats and their financial supporters can ramrod these issues down our throats – regardless of our concerns.
I also noticed on the new judicial building and garage that although the drawings included lovely landscaping, when the representative was questioned about it, he had to respond (apparently truthfully) that the trees around the garage were in the city right-of-way – therefore requiring the city engineer’s permission and approval, and that there is only a two-foot wide space around the judicial building in which to plant anything. Using an automotive analogy – CAUTION: building lines may not be as soft as they appear in the (smoke and) mirrors.
I didn’t have to read between the lines. I’ve watched the same old routine too many times for it to be coincidental. I noticed one of the city’s Principal Planners defended the plan, so it’s a done deal. I probably would do the same thing if I were in her shoes. On the other issue, I have always been a sucker for artist’s renderings. I should know better, but I just can’t help myself. I’m a little embarrassed on this one. I accidentally hit the publish button while I was still proofing it. It’s like going out late at night to take out the garbage in your underwear and having a neighbor turn on a floodlight.
Oct. 7, 2015
From Jim Wirshing
That sounds like a “normal” agenda, in my book. Regarding the County Judicial Building – I would hope that both garage areas have high resolution security cameras. The NSA can read vehicle license plates from spy satellites that are 100+ miles in orbit. It astounds me that we rarely ever have a clear picture of the thief robbing the convenience store. By comparison, if our terrestrial cameras had even half the resolution of NSA’s, then we should be able to clearly count the freckles on the face of the convenience store thief! Additionally, I hope that they plan for the possibility of adding a photovoltaic roof over the top level of the public garage, as well as planter boxes for flowers and vines to soften the appearance of the structure.
Regarding the annexation of the 60 acres adjacent to The Reserve – shame on them for considering the technical loophole of leaving a 10′ wide access strip to the surrounded county property. What good does that do? Even a single-lane road should be a minimum of 12′ wide! Maybe they think that a bicycle path will be sufficient! If a citizen wanted to do this, to the city’s detriment, would they even entertain the idea? I suspect not.
My reply: Does normal mean dull? Exciting agendas are bad for the neighborhood. Judging from a meeting I attended The Reserve is not happy about high density development planned nearby. The developer made some concessions, but the people living who spoke at the meeting wanted large single family lots in tune with the surrounding developments. If there were a rabble-rouser in town he could “make hay” or some sort of crop out of their resentment. Speaking to council is a lot like talking to your living room wall.
One reason city planners sought a Planned Institutional District for the Judicial Building is to have more say over design and landscaping. From the brochure renderings and text it appears landscaping will be used to soften the building. And you know how reliable renderings are.
Oct. 1, 2015 (on HOAs)
From Jim Wirshing:
HOAs, like most things, have both positive and negative aspects. Much like our elected and appointed governments, they tend to degenerate into fiefdoms and empires whenever the represented populace stops being involved or keeping an eye on them.
Ah but we have more checks on the power of local government. Just look at how the city councilmen towed the line once we turned out and showed them what they were doing is unpopular. (LOL) Some HOAs in Tenn. don’t even let residents attend meetings. There is an upside, but the downside risk, in my view, overrides it. The worst ones hire management firms, I think.
I only put the flyer on the site because I knew there was no way anyone was going to type any of those URLs on it in a browser. This way they can go to the site and click on the links.
Our Next Door site now has 50 members. I am grateful that you tipped me off about it. We’re planning a costume ball by the front entrance. I will post the time and date when I know more. Outsiders from ritzy neighborhoods across the tracks are welcome.
Sept 24, 2015 (On granting a use permit to Key Oil Co. on Joe B. Jackson)
From Jim Wirshing: During their presentation, they mentioned that the facility will be diked (to contain any potential spills), In hindsight, no one asked about the fuel load presented, nor possible firefighting systems. Hopefully, the fire department has some influence in the design review process.
The infamous second layer of review that the use permit procedure requires is a bit less vigorous than I had been told.
September 19, 2015
From Jim Wirshing,
I glad to see some encouraging action taking place. We’ve got a long way to go, but at least this is a start.
These two actions are easy. One helps developers, and the other will have minimal impact. The shame is that the oil wholesaler may chase away attracive high tech companies from Joe B. Jackson. The only hope now is the other side across I-24. I spoke to the consultant briefly at the council meeting and asked if the idea of an innovation district is pie in the sky. He said not at all. A reasonable aim, I think, is to try to create a group of people who believe in planning as opposed to the current laissez faire approach. It would help if we could build a support base for what the consultant is trying to do. Even with the best planning effort, it is going to be tough accommodating a doubling of our population in 20 years.
Traffic is the key. I am not against growth. But I am worried if the state really says it has no money for major road projects like widening Manchester Pike. We need to either find a better road funding mechanism or (and in the name of Adam Smith I quake with trepidation in saying this) curb growth. Otherwise we will become the Tennessee version of New Jersey. Hope your car radio works, and you have an entertaining station to listen to.
September 12, 2015
From Jim Wirshing,
Another piece of the puzzle falls into place – The BZA meeting at 1:00 pm is minimally attended due to the time of day when it is conducted. Then, the City Council virtually rubber stamps the BZA recommendation because “they are the technical experts.”
I hope to be back from my trip to Florida and Alabama in time to attend this BZA meeting.
Au contraire, my friend. The BZA makes the final decision on use permits. I found out last night that the council isn’t involved (at least publicly). This is usual. he council should be the only lawkmaking body, and everyone else should be advisory. But a lot of things are different here — like the century our lawmakers are living in.
September 10, 2015
From Jim Wirshing: The professional term that Kendig Keast seems to be avoiding is called New Urbanism. Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, from Miami, FL, are two of the leading proponents of the concept (www.dpz.com). It has many good things in its favor, but it isn’t a panacea. Fifteen years ago, I was dating someone who lived adjacent to Seaside, FL, the DPZ-designed community that is often held up as the premier example of New Urban design. While Seaside is VERY attractive visually, very walkable, and very supportive of the neighborly concepts, it still has limitations. It’s a slow drive to go anywhere outside of the community, and MOST things like jobs and grocery or department stores are outside of the community. If your intention is to build an ideal tourist or retirement community, then this concept should be a major aspect of the total design. For the day-to-day requirements that most of us have, I think that a reasonable mixture of urban and suburban concepts are still the best way to go.
Kendig and his collaborative pals didn’t avoid the term. My Cliff’s Notes stylebook doesn’t permit the use of any words that end in “ism”. The concept the team is pushing is for the neighborhoods to be as self sufficient as possible. Commercial uses are a part of the package, but maybe it wouldn’t include “big box” stores. The Austin community that was used as an example has 650,000 square feet of commercial space. As I recall it is in the center of the village, but I would have to check.
I knew people who were involved in creating Columbia, Md. It has never attracted enough industry to provide jobs for its residents.
So is a “new urbanism” date better than your run-of-the-mill variety?
Although I haven’t visited either of the two new dealerships (GM & Toyota), I hope that the Planning Commission is requiring a fair amount of landscaping and trees, so that these dealerships won’t simply be a vast expanse of pavement, thus extending the urban heat island. Dealerships in south Florida finally started to learn the sales value of shade several decades ago.
From sitting there at the meeting, my impression is they will meet the city’s stringent buffering requirements for the residential neighborhood behind them.
From Jim Wirshing:
Dear Bird, you supply me with a limitless inventory of irony. Although I was conceived in Canada, I was born in south Florida (does that make me a Baby Boomer Anchor Baby?). Where did you discover a Canadian college professor named Florida? Have you been using my personal biography as the basis for your Master Plan review?
Regardless – keep drilling.
Word from the Bird:
This is the top of an article on Dr. Florida in Wikipedia. His work, which looks down on slobs like us, is cited in a current bestseller: “Murfreesboro 2035” by the Kendig Keast Collaborative.
Sounds to me like you’re going to meet that Nextdoor deadline. Don’t be afraid to reapproach neighbors multiple times. I had to ask one of my immediate neighbors two or three times before he finally registered. Although he never comments online, he follows the posts and comments to me in person about them. I also encourage the effective use of a judicious dose of guilt when you talk to folks now. Go tell the next 50 people that you need one more registrant within the next ten days so that the website will be permanent for your neighborhood!
I know that the ultimate outcome of the Master Plan will go through several iterations of pendulum swings. At this point, I see an active conversation being the most valuable thing contributing towards its future. Thanks for continuing to stir that pot.
I can’t imagine they wouldn’t adopt it and give it the force of law. But they have surprised me before. Public opinion doesn’t move them.
August 24, 2015
Here is a reply to Ms. Beasley’s question from Dana Richardson, Murfreesboro’s traffic diirector:
I’ll try and answer your question from two perspectives:
The widening of Manchester Pike is on the City’s 2025 Major Thoroughfare Plan to be widened from the existing two lanes to a three lanes from Joe B. Jackson Parkway to approximately Cedar Grove Road. No funding has yet to be identified in the City’s near-term 5 year Capital Improvement Plan since this proposed project is a long term improvement in the outer years of the 2025 plan. Since from a priority standpoint, respective to all the other projects in the City, there are no immediate plans to widen this section of roadway, we have made no formal request of TDOT to pursue this project at this time.
The longer term viewpoint notwithstanding, it is expected that the Maples project will require improvements to Manchester Pike in proximity to their development. Based on previous approvals of the Maples project and stated conditions at the time of the approval, they will be required to submit a traffic study that will identify specific improvements that they will be required to be made to Manchester Pike. I would expect that, at a minimum, the traffic study will convey the need to provide a separate left turn lane into this development.
I hope this information is helpful to you.
City of Murfreesboro
August 19, 2015
From Misti Beasley:
Good evening. Do you know if Manchester Hwy will be widened due to the increased traffic that The Maples subdivision will bring?
My Reply: (updating)
I spoke to Heather Jensen, who is community relations office at the Tennessee Department of Transportation. She said the department is in a funding crunch — in part because more efficient cars don’t bring in as much gas tax revenue. The only project in development now along Manchester Pike, she said, is for turning lanes at Dilton Mankin Road, which is well north of the area you mentioned.
She added that the governor met with leading officials in the city, county and neighboring cities Thursday to hear their concerns about transportation issues and to explain the funding problems to them. I saw pictures of the session in the DNJ.
I looked on the Transportation Department’s list of projects it is studying and didn’t find anything about Manchester Pike there. I have written an email to Dana Richardson, the city’s transportation director. If he adds anything I will let you know.
I certainly see your point. Manchester Pike is heavily traveled now and with The Maples and a huge Planned Residential Development set to go in near me it will only get worse.
From Jim Wirshing:
It sure would make sense to me that the City and County Education Systems should be consolidated – and those savings used to build some of those multi-million dollar schools that we’re going to need. Impact fees make a lot of sense too – that way even a 5 or 10 home development contributes toward the associated costs for the resultant schools.
(And on a second topic dear to my heart)
Just thinking out loud here: Who are the constituents that are being served by a Planning Commission meeting at 1:00 pm on a Thursday afternoon? If we acknowledge that most households require two wage-earners (and they likely work a standard day shift), and the retirees are either at the golf course, walking the Greenway, or bouncing their grandkids on their knee, then the developers and their designers are going to be the predominate attendees. (And if we’re embarrassed by the low attendance at City Council meetings, then Planning Commission meetings should be worthy of an apoplectic fit!) I suppose that only leaves the barnyard animals to watch the proceedings. Thanks for being our eyes & ears, Bird.
On schools: Yes. We should encourage consolidation. One reason New Jersey’s property taxes are the highest in the nation is that it has so many townships, boros and school districts, and each set of bureaucrats jealously guards his or her turf. No wonder.The superintendent of schools in the town of 65,000 where I lived was earning $265,000 a year when I left. The city treasurer was offered a no-bid job to serve also as treasurer for the school district. “It’s just the same old story ….”
On meetings under the radar: You are expressing a thought I’ve had ever since I learned about the practice. They have one monthly meeting a night and one in the afternoon. I had never heard of such a thing in any city I have lived in. It also makes it difficult for any person with a job (unless self employed) to serve on the planning commission.I actually missed one meeting a couple of months ago because I am so used to city meetings being held at night.
I will be there today, but — being a small, puny bird — I will be unable to shovel out the barnyard.
Aug. 13, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
M’boro has an excellent mulching and composting program for yard waste. I expect that it could be extended to include food waste as well. Ultimately (and sadly) it all boils down to finding the most economical means of disposal. Ideally, that would also be the moral and sustainable way to do it too.
When I taught science and tech writing at Rutgers, one of our projects was to write a proposal for a composting plant. It was based on one in Georgia that has since been closed. The county commissioners who closed it said it wasn’ competitive with landfilling, and there wasn’t enough of a market for all the mulch it produced.
I’m a big fan of compositing. But a complete plant would be a big step up from a facility that merely composts yard waste. The one in Georgia even separated metals from the incoming material.
Aug. 10, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
Being of a similarly frugal mindset, I endorse your reluctance to spring for the $30 reader’s fee for that article you cited. However, you might be able to sneak at free glance at the whole thing in the James Walker Library on MTSU. They’ve got a LOT of reading material there!
That’s a great suggestion. but I would be afraid of getting annexed if I followed it up. One source I used said the paper is the most unreadable academic article they have ever seen.
Aug. 4, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
Like almost everything, HOAs have their positive, and their not-so-positive aspects. The best mechanism that I’ve ever discovered to unite and facilitate communication among a community or subdivision is a website called Nextdoor. It allows privacy among the participants by requiring proof of residence within the boundaries that are identified for your neighborhood. Two-and-a-half years ago I started the first one between here and Nashville. This year, another 8 or 10 popped up, and they’re all here in the SE quadrant of M’boro. If you aren’t already within the territory for one of those new ones, then you can create your own “fiefdom” and snub your nose at the elected politicians. I’ll send you a hyperlink to get you started.
Bless you. I take back every negative thing I’ve ever said about you.
From Jim Wirshing:
Even birds should dream big dreams. Those of us who put action to them will lead the way for the entire community’s benefit.
This bird may be eating crow tomorrow.
Aug. 3, 2015
From Richard J Baines
On water: Murfreesboro is ahead of the curve on water conservation. The recycled (grey) water is being used to irrigate golf courses,parks and the green areas around Med Ctr Parkway. I think that some of the newer hotels are installing dual plumbing that uses grey water to flush toilets. The grey water of today is actually purer than the water we drank in the early 60s.
Yes, I’ve learned that just from delving into things on this website project. It’s odd. The other day I was leaving the Mufreesboro Medical Clinic and noticed a sign by a planter irrigation faucet: “Caution,. This water is not potable.” My first thought was: “It probably is.” But I waited until I got home to drink some.
From Jim Wirshing (on water)
We would be wise to learn a lesson now, from the problems that plague the drought-stricken areas of our country. We can’t continue to deplete the resources, believing that they will be endlessly renewed for us. At least water is one that we have some degree of control over. If we don’t reuse and recycle it, we won’t have any at all.
If the astronauts had the right stuff drinking recycled urine in space, I’m on board. I’ve real a little about the program in Wichita Falls, Texas. They say we have always been drinking recycled water. They are just speeding nature’s purification process along. I grew up drinking heavily chlorinated water from the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
We had a drought (not like this one) in the 1970s when I lived in California. Things got so serious the local water utility was leaning hard on us to save water. The popular slogan was: “If it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down.” So we all saved water. The utility raised our rates because water usage was down. It had less revenue coming in to meet its expenses. It just shows me that God needs a good laugh now and then.
Speaking of recycling we have some interesting warmed-over stuff coming — probably in a week. We like to think we are the worldwide leader in warmed-over news.
Aug. 1, 2015
From: Richard J Baine In Response To Our Community Forum Page Submitted on 2015/08/01 at 6:18 pm Comment “It’s up to us, then, to have an attorney on staff” Who is (us)? The developer placed a weapon of sorts in the the hands of (us) when he offered some restricted covenants to be placed on the site. The problem seems to be that us is unorganized and lacking in logical leadership. (Us) could be a very powerful voice if the Homeowners Association(s) could agree that in case of covenant violations the Association would be the voice of (us) and any legal costs would be shared by the members. That works! A developer recently tried to build a (spec) house on a smallish lot in the Broadlands Subdivision. The Homeowners obtained the plans for the house and pointed out several violations of the building covenants to the developer along with a change it now or tear it down later edict. The plans were changed. If (Us) does not have a Homeowners Assn. how can you enforce the Covenants in your own subdivision? If you have one, that is your strength and with intelligent leadership it will be a force to be reckoned with. My reply: I agree with everything you say. “Us” is a rhetorical device to say it is up to the homeowners to get an attorney and sue if the covenant is broken. Right now that isn’t going to happen, so the covenant is worthless. It was also a way of saying there is no organized group on our side to be a party to any covenant with the developer. My goal with this site and the forum is to achieve the very thing you speak of. There was an association in Magnolia Trace, I’ve been told, but it died for lack of interest. On this (rezoning) issue, I think the council is in lockstep with the development community but out of step with what the citizens want — at least the ones I have talked to. We need to be organized the way the sports groups are organized or we will never be heard. The problem is apathy. On issues like this that affect several subdivisions it would be helpful to have an agreement to work together. Sommersby and Sunset Ridge probably need associations, too. My point is that it is a dumb way to run a city by “fixing” a bad ordinance through private agreements between developers and homeowners.
July 31, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
1. I would have preferred to “Trust Them” by granting a variance to the Light Industrial code, vice granting the Heavy Industrial zoning.
2. The activities which are categorized under our Light Industrial and Heavy Industrial categories defy logic – at least in current realms. Other things worth noting would be definitions – such as, restoring a mining/excavation site DOESN’T necessarily mean bringing the land elevation back to the original level.
1. If you look at my latest post you will learn my most recent discovery: It’s hard to guard the store once you have given it away. Note that Mr. Young mistakenly said that the parcel is next to Amazon.
2. Light industrial will probably fade away as everyone asks to rezone to heavy industrial, which is almost like having no zoning at all. It is a grab bag into which they threw everything they didn’t want in other zones. But they have no problem putting near other peoples’ homes as long as i is far away from their own.
You are absolutely right about this being a sad occasion. So I trudge onward, too dumb to know better. If you enter our puzzle contest on the front page and win I will buy you a burger.
July 30, 2015
Thanks for all of your legwork. Enjoy your (apparently, self-) guided tour(s). Don’t forget to file your travel voucher when you get back. 🙂
You have no idea how cheap gaspchoke.com is when it comes to employee travel expenses.
I share your skepticism. The RIGHT things for the commission to do would be to (1) Have an enforceable Comprehensive Plan, (2) Have well-conceived zoning categories within the plan, (3) Hold property owners to the requirements of the plan (allowing for reasonable variations), (4) Allow equitable input from the public.
When the commission enforces dissimilar rules on the public from the developers, and when they conceal commentary from public viewing (those pesky TV cameras), it is apparent that cronyism is afoot. This is NOT a good thing, Martha!
My reply: Because I’ve learned people won’t grant interviews unless the blog is more dignified, I prefer to be called Mrs. Washington.
July 28, 2015
From Jeremy and Jenny Morrill
Thank you for the info and working to keep this rezoning out.
Thanks for staying involved.
With the exceptions of the warehouses in Regions #1 & #2, and possibly “industrial-sized” bakeries, jewelry makers, etc., in Region #2, that all sounds fairly benign. Nothing that wouldn’t be welcome in any other part of town – or even on the City Square.
I agree. Warehouses are on Joe B. now. I also agree with my critics that if I objected to warehouses I should have known better and not bought here. But there is nothing I can see in this plan that justifies all the uses that could go in with a rezoning to heavy industry. But there i go again talking about dark possibilities instead of trusting people. I’m a dark, neurotic old bird.
The bakeries would be away from the homes along the freeway. Besides, a bakery a mile from me when I lived in New Jersey was a welcome relief from the normal air there.
July 24, 2015
At the risk of sounding overly cynical, am I the only one who has noticed that this report isn’t telling us anything that a college intern couldn’t copy & paste from the Cliff Notes version of his/her Land Use Planning textbook? Presuming that we’re paying more than $1.98 for this report, I expect to hear some actionable, specific details, not just generic platitudes.
Fly high, Bird. We’re lovin’ the birdseye view.
Chicken Little replies: It isn’t fair to judge the report from the summary I publish. Besides, I don’t need a lawsuit. I think there are some nuggets in it, but they are surrounded by a lot of detail and other recommendations that merely urge the staff to continue what it is doing. My concern is the report reads like a detailed narrative. I want to see how this is going to lead to a new comprehensive plan. There is no point if it doesn’t do that. The advisory comprehensive plan we are using now dates from the 1980s. The consultant is only halfway through his effort, and the bird has only seen the first ten minutes of the drama.I would not want to throw cold water on the city’s effort to do some real long-range planning. The alternative is scary. My impression is that the report is full of jargon that only a professional planner would love. My only idea was to put it into simple language that residents can read. My posts are a Reader’s Digest of the Murfreesboro 2035 study without humor pages and nothing about “the most unforgettable planner I ever met.” Maybe some original ideas got past me while I was dozing off. I don’t believe the ideas came from the Cliff’s Notes on Planning and Land Use. I think the recommendation that the city adopt a comprehensive plan with the force of law (instead of having an advisory plan) is worth the price of admission. I am also pleased that the consultant recommended adoption of a “business parks” zone. My personal belief is that there may not be answers to revitalizing downtown core areas. Thus, a consultant is almost forced to make “generic platitudes” because there are no magic bullets. I did like the idea of getting parked cars out of sight. Many people who live in New York City only drive a car when they leave town or go to a beach in New Jersey for a day. The consultant’s plan to build mix-use multi-story buildings would at least bring people to the core area on a permanent basis. If they live there, they might prefer to shop locally than get the car out and drive somewhere else. Hopefully, ideas from a professional planning consultant will carry more weight here than if you and I brought them up in the three minutes we are given to speak to council. You can tell there is a lot of research specific to Murfreesboro in this report. When the firm gave the council a midterm progress report, Councilman Rick LaLance said that there were many facts and figures in the presentation that show much hard work. But he complained that there was not enough analysis (or solid recommendations) for him to say if the consultant is on the right track or needs a course change. That is my impression, too. I am overwhelmed by all the detail and don’t have a clear view of where the whole thing is going. But I haven’t read that much of the study yet, and what we are viewing is still a draft. But all the “continue to do” recommendations seem like a waste of paper to me. From what I’ve seen at planning commission meetings, the planning staff does a thorough job already on these “continue to do” recommendations. If a lawyer calls, tell him the bird is out.
July 23, 2015
July 19th, 2015
* jimwirshing commented on How To Get Up To Speed On The Murfeesboro 2035 Plan: Chapter One Thanks for the Executive Summary of Chapter One. The stage is set. Bring on the thespians. My reply: There are a lot of hams in this drama. * jimwirshing commented on Chicken Little Ruminates: Give The Comprehensive Plan Some Teeth I spent 23 of my 26 year USAF career in Civil Engineering. Every installation had a Base Comprehensive Plan, which included “zoning categories” and a Five Year Projection for future growth. Any anomalous deviations where highly scrutinized. Any community that intends to live on less than 5 acres per household MUST be intentional about their community planning. Murfreesboro’s current process is anything but intentional. My reply: An ‘advisory” comprehensive plan” is only slightly better than having no plan. From July 15, 2015
From Jim Wirshing:
Let’s not forget, if you bought your gasoline in the city, but did most of your driving elsewhere, then you might be due a refund! With all due respect to the councilmen, the British phrase of “Swings and Roundabouts” seems to fit this situation. Sometimes you pay more than your fair share, sometimes less. At the end of the day, it usually works out to be about even. I’ve only been on the Greenway once in eight years – I’ll give you a voucher for a portion of my allotted time. My Reply:If the sky starts falling again, I’ll take you up on it. I’ll need a place to hide — Chicken Little.
From July 14, 2015:
From Jim Wirshing:
If the majority of the council is unmoved by the concerns of those whom they represent, then perhaps we need new representatives. We seem to be hurtling down the expressway of apathy, hoping that making bad decisions now won’t bite us in the posterior later. That never works well.
My Reply: But Jim. The plan for Joe B. Jackson was chiseled onto clay tablets back in the 1980s. You can’t change it now. Apathy is the real enemy of achieving change and getting the council to accept planned growth instead of weed growth. It has to be a long-term fight, with a lot of short term losses along the way if there is any home of success. — Chicken Little
From July 13, 2015:
From Jim Wirshing:
Historically, I have detested everything to do with politics. With maturity (age) I’ve come to appreciate that our failure to become involved in our national/state/local governments only enables the misdeeds of those who try to manipulate the system to their personal advantage. We all need to develop ongoing conversations with our appointed and elected representatives, and this list is a good place to start.
A reply from Chicken Little, editor in chief:
They like to work in the dark and call us Chicken Little when we get people to show up and complain. I like to have fun with humor, but you have my pledge that I will never publish anything that I know to be false. When I insert opinion, I will always put it in brackets. If I make a mistake, I will publish a retraction.
Good …………………………………………………… Day
[In reference to my walking two neighborhoods in a “Commie” i.e. Moscow, Ohio, T Shirt]:
As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
From July 12, 2015
Several months ago I heard a story on the news about a Rutherford County Community that was annexed or to be annexed by the City of Murfreesboro and successfully fought it on the grounds of government without representation. My recollection is that it was Blackman but I cannot find the story online and am not certain which area it was for sure. However my point is that annexation is probably the purest form of government without representation and this issue is right along the same lines.
If anyone knows what story I am talking about it may be worth finding out which attorney they used to represent them in case we want to band together as a group and work as a team with an attorney in the same direction. The high and mighty, we are going to do whatever we want attitude of the council is distressing to say the least. That is really more of an issue than the zoning at this point – it is scary to say the least. (Did anyone else hear the council say “annexation, I mean rezoning” several times????)
Hi Laura, My understanding is that under state law, no city in Tennessee can annex an area without the consent of a majority of property owners there, but I haven’t researched this yet. I assume it is true because I have heard a couple of councilmen, like Mr. Smotherland, call us freeloadeers at meetings. This is absurd. When I attended the county budget meeting, the finance director said a percentage of every sales tax dollar we pay comes back to the place where the sale was made. In spite of what Councilman Washington says, a Dollar General and a Subway restaurant, hardly eliminate our need to shop in the city. The biggest item in any city’s budget by far is public schools. We support our own county school system. The only city service I use and don’t pay for is parks. I’ve also been to Centennial Park in Nashville many times, but I don’t think Nashville is about to annex Magnolia race over this. If my walks on the Greenway mean I deserve to be annexed I will gladly give them up.
From July 11, 2015
From Janice Mullins:
From July 10th, 2015
From Janice Mullins:
My husband and I vote in every election, but for the life of me I cannot remember if we are eligible to vote for city council. How does city council have authority to make decisions if we have no election votes. The city planner last night could not explain why the city has this authority even though we are not in city limits. Where is the election commission office located?
We are outside the city and cannot vote in city elections. But the city affects us because property owners near us have requested to be annexed, sometimes I’m told to get rezoned, As a result, the city has crept up to our doorsteps. The Joe B. Jackson area is part of the city. For now, Tenn law keeps them from annexing us if we don’t want it. But things can always change. To get to the elections commission just park in the garage by the library and walk up Church Street to the courthouse square. It’s on the south side of the square. The lady there likes advance notice to get everything together. The number there is (615) 898-7743. You might look for SEC Enginering, Ole South Homebuilders, Bob Parks and Harney, The Rutherford County Homebuilders Assn., and Pinnacle Investment Partners on the donor list. I believe they all have had business before the council.
From Charles Tyler Montgomery
I was out of town last night, but I’m glad to hear it went well. I will do my best to be at the next one if possible.
From Laura: Submitted on 2015/07/10 at 10:05 pm I think two things became very clear from last night. 1) Mr Harney is the one who developed Magnolia Trace. Last night in his nice little story he indicated that he developed all of this land and had it all planned out from the start. Therefore if all of this was planned out from the beginning it proves he developed a subdivision with the intent of putting heavy industrial adjacent to it. If that is the case, it is insanity to trust him because the planning to do that from the beginning proves lack of concern for the residents. 2) The council tipped their hand when they made the comment that “we” don’t pay city taxes but enjoy ALL the benefits of Joe B Jackson and the related development. They may have said “you don’t live in the city and don’t have any impact on whether we get re-elected so we don’t care what you say”. But when it comes right down to it I don’t understand why they are so eager to write a blank check by rezoning to heavy industrial One council member wanted to put restrictions on the rezoning – well then it wouldn’t be “heavy industrial”, I don’t know what it would be – something that doesn’t exist in their zoning codes at this point. The only thing I can figure is Parks Harney has something to do with their election/re-election. I don’t believe they are paid that much as council members so I am not sure really what the ultimate motivation is – that is quite a mystery. . My reply: Laura, Great stuff. See my article thanking everyone who showed up last night for my views. Our country is built on laws not on giving men or women blind trust. I’ve heard Councilman Smotherman call us freeloaders who deserve to be annexed. How are we freeloading? By walking the Greenway? If annexation is the price, I will give it up. Communities everywhere build parks that outsiders use. I’ve been to Centennial Park in Nashville many times, but I don’t think Magnolia Trace is under any danger of being annexed by the Music City. We support our own county schools, so we’re not freeloading on their schools, which is the major budget item in any community. In fact, the county has been sharing some school money with the city, although it is cutting back this cycle. Finally, every time we shop in Murfreesboro, a percentage of the sale tax is rebated back to where the sales were made. And where else are we going to shop? Freeloaders? We deserve a tip of Councilman Smotherman’s hat, but I’ve never seen him wearing one. As for your last paragraph, stroll down to the election commission office on the courthouse square and ask to see the campaign reports of people sitting on the council. Pay attention to how much was spent to win the office and where a lot of it came from. I spent an entire day pouring over them. From Tony Engle: Submitted on 2015/07/10 at 7:26 pm This is the email I just sent to the entire council. I just thought you might want to pull some highlights from it to add to your comments. I know a lot of people are upset and speaking from the heart, but we’ll need tangible points to sway the council members minds. Unfortunately, I don’t see a way to post the maps from 1997-2014, but I can email them to you if you’ll send me your email address. (You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org __________________ I don’t want to take a lot of your time, but I would first like to thank Councilmember Madelyn Harris for motioning for a deferral. I feel had you not done so, members of the panel would have called for a motion to pass. It seems some of the Councilmembers minds are made up and that this would be a good thing for Murfreesboro and it’s communities. It was suggested this was going to pass even if it was deferred. I do not believe as it was stated that “growth hurts” and that the community should blindly trust their officials to “do the right thing”. I would like to simply point out some issues that I observed last night. 1) When I spoke last night, I mentioned that it was disingenuous of the presenter to show a map and state that this change is in line with the area and that it would affect only a small amount of people. Councilmember Rick LaLance disagreed with me and said the map was very helpful. I stated that it was disingenuous because I live less than a mile from that property and did not see my house within his 1 mile radius map. It’s my opinion that his map was incorrectly scaled to show a limited impact. I’ve included a picture that is correctly scaled and shows that within 2 miles…there is a large impact including schools, churches, innumerable homes, golf course, farms, commercial and light industry. (2014 Joe B Jackson Overlay.jpg) 2) I also reiterated the developer is offering to include contingencies to lessen the impact on the area. Why not have those restrictions in place prior to any passage of a re-zone? Until it is signed and in writing it is only words. I think that is very kind of them, but I’m not certain that in the long run it would matter. I f the developer were to ever sell the property, it would be imperative that those prohibitions be included in the deed for the land. Otherwise, another developer could simply buy the land and not be bound to any restrictions. I think the community knows that something is going to be built there and that it will create jobs. It doesn’t have to be something potentially harmful to the communities though. The area next to it was re-zoned HI some 10 years ago, however I think everyone would agree that whereas Amazon and HK often break the noise and light pollution codes, they are not necessarily detrimental to the area. 3) One of the Councilmembers asked why there wasn’t anyone to speak out against this re-zoning when it passed the planning commission. The answer to that question was overwhelmingly obvious. The communities were not informed and an un-informed public is easily taken advantage of. Thankfully there were a few that followed this development and organized as many as they could in the short time. That is why there was such an outcry at the council meeting and not at the planning meeting. It is also of note/concern that at the planning meeting the developer had a company in mind for the property that would not be too harmful to the area (but would require HI due to the constraints of the zoning laws), but that within a short time of it passing planning that company was no longer interested yet the developer wished to continue the re-zoning. 4) It was stated by Councilmember Ron Washington that the area was never planned nor intended to be a residential area. I have included a sequential map of the area from 1997 to 2014. I believe I heard that the original re-zonings to Industrial were in early 2000’s. Now I’m not a city planner, but when you look at the map sequence and see that the area was overwhelmingly residential prior to any industry re-zoning or moving there then I have to question whether it was truly intended for residential and later became industry and not the other way around as stated. Especially considering that a lot of the neighborhoods in question that supposedly were never intended to be there were there first (for years prior to rezoning) and built by some of the same developers. 5) Finally, it was stated by most of the Councilmembers that the residents had to have known that the area they were moving into was rated HI. The fact is the vast majority of the industry came in after the homes were already built, purchased and lived in for years by their owners. I feel that none of you can honestly say your realtor has ever told you that the home your about to buy could go way down in value. The only way to know that would be to pull zoning permits, to be on the planning commission, or “be in the know”. Which everyday citizens either don’t know how to do or are unable to do so. We rely on the realtor to tell us the negatives of the home and area. Those repeated comments simply insulted the community members and frankly made you appear unsympathetic and elitist. I hope we all want what’s best for Murfreesboro, Rutherford county and the area in question. All the community is asking is that there be a plan in place prior to a carte blanche stamp placed on the land. Again, I thank you for your consideration, time and service to the community. My reply: Tony, You nailed it. When I did my measurements, I found Magnolia Trace, Sunset Ridge, Del Sol and Sommersby are all within about 3,000 feet of the parcel. Draw a circle of about 1.5 miles and you take in a lot of additional developments. From memory, I believe the large circle includes Coldstream and the entrance homes at least on Irby and 12 Oaks. For my reaction to the meeting see my lead story. We didn’t lose tonight. I have a new offensive I am asking everyone to mount, and you won’t have to listen to a lot of boring jabber about the 1980s. We have to turn the page and get behind something positive. I tell you what it is in that article. Thanks and keep submitting stuff to the forum. From July, 9, 2015 From: janice mullins Submitted on 2015/07/09 at 2:13 am If time permits, a city school, Black Fox, and a county school-Whitworth-Buchanan Middle school are near the proposed site with 1000 students and teachers. From June 11, 2015 A reply to Janice Mullins from Mayor McFarland Submitted on 2015/06/11 at 6:24 pm Janice, Thank you so much for the email! I value your opinion and I know these are areas we will consider and talk about. Have a great weekend! Thank you, Shane McFarland Sent from my iPad From June 10, 2015 From Janice Mullins: Mayor McFarland, I want to voice my concerns about rezoning any of Joe B. Jackson highway. Heavy industrial brings great concern about our personal property values and health. Also, schools are very near Joe B. Jackson on both sides. Black Fox elementary and Whitworth Buchanan Middle School. The county built this new middle school only 5 years ago and to have heavy industrial as a close neighbor is detrimental to at least 1000 students in these schools. The schools are 2 miles from the proposed industrial plots and much closer as the crow flies. Finally, heavy industrial does not really seem appropriate way to honor Joe B. Jackson’s name. Please, reconsider any and all proposals to change the zoning here. I appreciate your help with this matter. Bill and Janice Mullins, 106 Ramsey Road in Magnolia Trace subdivision 37127. From May 12, 2015From Tim Russo: I actually received a response from the mayor. It was brief, but he was thankful for my email. I answered a couple of questions for him. I also asked if he would be interested in meeting with a small group of us to have a civilized discussion about our concerns. I’ll provide an update as soon as I hear back. On another note, how can we change the road name? Joe B Jackson is just another politician and builder. I’m so tired of us naming roads and all after politicians.