Bill shortens public notice for zoning changes in Nashville

A bill that would shorten the amount of time of public notice for public hearings on zoning changes in Metropolitan Nashville passed unanimously in a key Senate committee and a House subcommittee this week.

The bill, S.B. 1809 / H.B. 1848, would change the law that requires Davidson County to provide 30 days public notice prior to a public hearing on an amendment to a county zoning ordinance. It reduces that time to 15 days.

Davidson County is the only county in the state required by law to give a 30-day notice, a point made by Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, the bill’s Senate sponsor.

“I would classify this as a cleanup bill to some degree,” said Haile, whose district includes part of Davidson County. “In current statute, only Metropolitan Nashville is required to give a 30-day notice for amending zoning ordinances. And this puts Nashville in line with every other city and county in the state for a 15-day notice.”

The bill passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on a 9-0 vote with no discussion on Tuesday.

During presentation of the bill in the House’s Local Government Subcommittee, State Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, asked if it saved any money.

John Cooper, law director of Metro Nashville, explained that the purpose is to help the development community.

“If we have to start advertising 30 days out…that poses a significant delay for developers for getting their projects through,” Cooper said. “(The bill) is really for the purposes of helping the business community.

State Rep. Tim Wirgau, R-Buchanan, also asked if public notice of the hearing was allowed to be done by webmail or “is it strictly newspaper?”

Cooper responded that the only notice requirement in state law has to do with publication in newspapers of general circulation, but added that Metro Nashville government also publishes notice on the web, mails notices to all property owners within 300 to 600 feet and puts signs on the property that is requested for rezoning.

State Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Nashville, is carrying the bill in the House. It passed unanimously out of the subcommittee.

The bill proposed to replace T.C.A. 13-7-105(b) and substituting the following language:

(b) Prior to adopting an amendment as authorized under subsection (a), the county legislative body shall hold a public hearing on the amendment, with at least fifteen (15) days’ notice of the time and place to be given by at least one (1) publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. A complete summary of the amendment shall be published at least once in the official newspaper of the county or in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. The summary shall include a statement that a complete copy of the amendment is available and where the copy may be obtained. If the zoning ordinance rezones property, a description of the property that is rezoned shall be included in the summary.

Currently the statute reads:

13-7-105.  Amendments of zoning ordinance provisions — Procedure.

  (a) The county legislative body may, from time to time, amend the number, shape, boundary, area or any regulation of or within any district or districts or any other provision of any zoning ordinance; but any such amendment shall not be made or become effective unless the same be first submitted for approval, disapproval or suggestions to the regional planning commission of the region in which the territory covered by the ordinance is located, and, if such regional planning commission disapproves within thirty (30) days after such submission, such amendment shall require the favorable vote of a majority of the entire membership of the county legislative body.

(b)  (1) Except as provided in subdivision (b)(2), before finally adopting any such amendment, the county legislative body shall hold a public hearing thereon, at least fifteen (15) days’ notice of the time and place of which shall be given by at least one (1) publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. A complete summary of such amendment shall be published at least once in the official newspaper of the county or in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. The summary shall include a statement that a complete copy of the amendment is available and where such copy may be obtained. If the zoning ordinance rezones property, a description of the property that is rezoned shall be included in the summary.

   (2) In any county having a metropolitan form of government and a population in excess of five hundred thousand (500,000), according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, before finally adopting any such amendment, the county legislative body shall hold a public hearing thereon, at least thirty (30) days’ notice of the time and place of which shall be given by at least one (1) publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such county. A complete summary of any such amendment shall be published at least once in the official newspaper of such county or in a newspaper of general circulation in such county. The summary shall include a statement that a complete copy of the amendment is available and where such copy may be obtained. If the zoning ordinance rezones property, a description of the property that is rezoned shall be included in the summary.

(c) Notwithstanding this part or any other law to the contrary, any county having a charter form of government, adopted pursuant to title 5, chapter 1, part 2, may amend its zoning ordinance by means of resolution; and all zoning amendments passed by resolution prior to July 1, 1996, shall be deemed to be valid and shall not be attacked on the grounds that the amendments were accomplished by means of resolution rather than by ordinance.

 

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