Written by Brian Zacharias
Clarksville City Council – Ward 1
Clarksville, TN – The Clarksville City Council met last night to take up items from the Planning Commission that have been postponed due to recent poor weather. This includes all items that were originally on the regular session agendas for January 6th and February 3rd.
There were a total of 10 zoning cases on the agenda last night. I voted against five of them. Two of the rezoning applications I voted against (73-2021-22, 74-2021-22) were in the Rossview school district. In the relatively short time I’ve been on the council, it has approved at least six applications for residential development in the most crowded school district in the school system.
Two more of the zoning applications (82-2021-22, 76-2021-22 were on narrow roads that are already difficult to traverse when cars are traveling in opposite directions. I felt that adding additional homes (and consequently, vehicles) was not in the best interest of the current residents of those streets.
I voted against the last application (77-2021-22) because it is on Needmore Road. We already know that Needmore Road is overcrowded. Improvements to Needmore are in the mayor’s Transportation 2020+ plan and we’ve recently seen the speed limit reduced from 45 to 35 MPH. I remain opposed to further residential development of Needmore until the road improvement projects are complete.
Ultimately, all but two of zoning applications on the agenda passed first reading last night. Beginning with this newsletter, I am including links to the different resolutions and ordinances in my voting history spreadsheet. Clicking those links will show the actual text of the different zoning applications, which includes pictures and comments submitted by the different city departments.
One area where we can all agree is that Clarksville is growing rapidly. Last year, the city saw a record number of rezoning and build permit applications. Rezoning in Clarksville is a multi-step process that everyone should understand.
When the city council votes to approve a rezoning application, they are not approving what IS going to be built, but what CAN be built on a piece of property. In some cases, the applicant either includes their plan in the application under “Applicant’s Statement for Proposed Use” or appears before the council and explains their plan.
The information the developer provides is not binding, nor is the city council allowed to conditionally approve a zoning application. That is, the council can’t approve an application as long as the builder promises to include something in their site plan. From the moment a zoning application is approved, neither the city council nor the people they represent have a voice in what gets built on the land.
During site plan review, the plan is checked to ensure it meets all requirements for things like the inclusion of adequate parking, appropriate standoffs, and that the builder is meeting any special conditions required for the purpose of the structure they intend to build. As long as the site plan meets all the conditions set forth in the zoning ordinance, it WILL be approved. A site plan that meets all conditions will be accepted as long as the proposed use of the structure is appropriate for the zoning designation of the property.
This is what makes voting on rezoning applications difficult. Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of applications for C-2 (General Commercial District) zoning. The C-2 zoning designation is extremely broad and accommodates everything from fast food restaurants to apartments and townhomes. The impact these buildings have on the surrounding neighborhood is equally broad. For example, a convenience store is going to have a different impact on the surrounding community, and at different times of the day, than a funeral home, yet both are permitted under the C-2 zoning.
If you have questions about a rezoning application in your area or you see a Regional Planning Commission sign about a pending zone change application and have questions, please reach out to me. I will be happy to tell you what I know about it. You can also take a look at the Land Use Tables in the zoning ordinance to see what kinds of business and structures CAN go in each of the different zones. It is pretty dry reading but it is incredibly useful to know what types of businesses could pop up in that space.
Comprehensive Plan Community Questionnaire
The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) wants to hear from you! This is your opportunity to influence the future of our city. The RPC is in the process of creating a Comprehensive Plan for future growth and development of Clarksville.
The Comprehensive Plan will outline the existing conditions of Clarksville-Montgomery County, describe future goals and objectives for development and include an action plan on how to achieve these goals and objectives. Please take the time to fill out this survey!
February 24th Executive Session
Normally I send out a newsletter after each city council meeting. This month is a bit unique because of the special sessions called to take up business that could not be conducted due to weather in January and February. The agenda for February’s Executive Session is out so I am including a link to it here.
Calling All Ward 11 Residents!
Although this newsletter is primarily for residents of Ward 1, I know there are many people who live outside the ward who subscribe. On March 3rd, residents of Ward 11 who wish to apply for the Ward 11 vacancy can appear before the city council. The mayor will then call a special meeting for the council to appoint Ashlee’s replacement.
Only those applicants who appear at the March 3rd meeting and make known their intention to apply to fill the vacancy will be considered at the special called meeting. I highly encourage anyone who meets the criteria and is interested in taking a larger role in local government to apply.
The Ward 1 election cycle falls during mid-term elections, which historically sees lower voter turn-out than elections where people have the opportunity to vote for the president. The last time the residents of Ward 1 voted for their city council representative, 956 voters chose the representative for a ward of almost 12,000 residents.
Getting to the polls on Election Day is the only way to guarantee you have a voice in choosing your representative. Since our last election, the nation has conducted its 10-year census and our city’s ward boundaries have been redrawn to account for shifts in population. As a result, many residents may find themselves in a different city ward, or school board, county, or state district. It is important that everyone who intends to vote in primary or general elections ensures they are registered to vote.
The State of Tennessee has made it very easy to register to vote online, either through its GoVoteTN website or through the GoVoteTN app on your smartphone. Click the button below to visit the GoVoteTN website, or search Apple’s App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android) for the GoVoteTN app. The process takes less than 10 minutes and guarantees your voice is heard in upcoming elections!
Schedule an Appointment
I want to hear from you. My phone number and email address are public, but I am learning that there are times when a face-to-face meeting would be more appropriate, depending on the issue. If you would like to discuss an issue facing Ward 1 or Clarksville in general, please use the form linked below and we can schedule a meeting. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible!
Past and Future Votes
Transparency in government, especially local government, is extremely important to me. At any time, anyone can click the ‘Votes’ button to see my complete voting history as well as ordinances and resolutions on the City Council’s agenda for consideration in upcoming meetings.
What Has Your Councilman Been Doing?
- February 3rd, 2022 – City Council Regular Session (Canceled – Inclement Weather)
- February 7th, 2022 – Neighborhood & Community Services Committee Meeting
- February 15th, 2022 – City Council Special Session
- February 22nd, 2022 – City Council Special Session
- February 22nd, 2022 – Finance Committee Meeting
What Is Your Councilman Going To Be Doing?
- February 24th, 2022 – City Council Executive Session
- March 3rd, 2022 – City Council Regular Session