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Gallatin Road to be rezoned   printer  

Councilmembers want to rezone Gallatin Pike to give it a makeover
By Bill Harless, bharless@nashvillecitypaper.com
June 08, 2007
Seven Metro Council members want to give Gallatin Pike — the city’s eastern commercial thoroughfare that winds southward from Hendersonville through East Nashville and Five Points to downtown — an extreme makeover.

Under a hefty new set of zoning guidelines and building design standards several types of businesses — including pawn shops, automobile outfits, adult book and video stores, title loan companies and heavy equipment shops — would be prohibited from ever again opening new locations along Gallatin Pike though existing business in those categories would be able operate without interruption.

In addition, any substantial new construction along the road would have to conform to a set of design criteria intended to make the street visually attractive and pedestrian friendly.

The Council members are hoping to have the legislation passed by August.

“We’re just now waking up to realizing that we spend our lives traversing these fairly significant corridors [such as Gallatin] into the heart of the city, and there’s been little if anything done to improve their appearance in a generation — and I hope this is a small step in that direction,” said East Nashville Councilman Mike Jameson, a lead sponsor of the zoning legislation.

“Not just Gallatin Pike but most of our other heavily commercialized corridors — like Murfreesboro Road, Thompson Lane, Nolensville Road — are all blighted by commercial development that never proceeded under a uniform land use policy. So looking specifically at Gallatin Pike … the problems today are mostly visual in nature. You have business types that are unsavory — there are adult bookstores, there’s an overwhelming number of pawnshops, discount tobacco stores that have exploded and are not subject to any sort of control.”

Jameson along with Councilmembers Erik Cole, Jason Hart and Pam Murray are sponsoring the pending zoning legislation, which encompasses more than 263 acres, stretching from Gallatin’s intersection with South Fifth Street to its interchange With Briley Parkway

After the summer election, Councilmembers Michael Craddock, Jim Forkum and Rip Ryman — if re-elected — plan to sponsor legislation enacting similar guidelines for properties bordering Gallatin Pike as the road moves through the county’s north end.

Craddock, whose district encompasses portions of Inglewood and Madison, said his constituents have demanded he take action to clean up the road, although he admits he is expecting opposition from some of the business owners whose property would be affected.

“Over the past four years, I’ve had an overwhelming majority of my constituents complain about the condition of Gallatin Road — about the tobacco shops, about the porn shops and about the visual clutter and signs and things like that,” Craddock said. “This won’t affect us immediately, but it will affect future generations.”

The pending bill divides the southern portion of Gallatin Road into three sections, changing the design guidelines slightly as the road moves northward. The ordinance passed on the first of three required readings this past Tuesday.

Throughout the entire stretch parking lots would have to be built either behind buildings or else screened from public view, and vehicle access to the lots would have to be provided from side streets and alleys.

From South Fifth Street to the Inglewood railroad overpass, commercial signs would have to be mounted onto buildings, although grounded monument signs could be used northward from the overpass to Briley Parkway. No sign could be internally lit or backlit.

The facades of buildings would have to stand close along the street itself, and building entrances would have to face the street. Further, height mandates would be established — from South Fifth Street to the railroad overpass, for example, buildings could rise no higher than six stories, and their first-floor levels would have to rise at least 14 feet in height. Northward from the overpass to Briley Parkway, buildings could rise no higher than four stories, although along this stretch, lengthier building setbacks would be allowed.

Certain sections of the street would be designated for the construction of primarily residential structures, although commercial uses could be placed in the first level of buildings; major intersections would be designated as sites for the most intense commercial development.

Utility lines would have to be buried or strung along alleys behind buildings. Trees would have to be planted along the street, and builders may have to install certain street additions — such as bus shelters — at appropriate spots along the sidewalk, as directed by the city. Planning Department spokesman Craig Owensby said only businesses undertaking substantial construction jobs — amounting to 25 percent of an existing building’s square footage or value — would have to install a bus shelter, for example, and only if the construction is along a portion of the street where a bus stop sits presently.

The council members are soliciting community input on the proposal, and have called a community meeting to discuss the initial rezoning for 4 p.m., Thursday, June 28 at Metro’s Southeast office building, 1417 Murfreesboro Pike. The full draft plan can be downloaded online at http://nashville.gov/mpc.

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