Written by Brian Zacharias
Clarksville City Council – Ward 1
Clarksville, TN – Clarksville, TN – I hope everyone had an outstanding Independence Day weekend! I would like to publicly congratulate Clarksville Parks and Recreation Department Director Jennifer Letourneau and her entire department for putting on an outstanding program on July 4th. Keep up the great work!
I hope everyone is managing to stay cool in the heat we’ve been experiencing. Unfortunately, the long-range forecast has another two weeks of highs in the 90s with little chance of rain. Please be careful out there and remember to check on loved ones! Learn the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so you can identify them in yourself and others!
July 7th Regular Session
As meetings go, this one was relatively short and without anything too noteworthy to discuss. Some highlights follow:
I voted “no” on three rezoning applications this month, all but one of which passed the first reading. Ordinance 03-2022-23 will bring additional residential density to the Rossview School Complex and Ordinance 06-2022-23 allows for the construction of single-family homes next to an active rock quarry. Both of these ordinances passed the first reading.
All of the council members received several emails from residents in opposition to Ordinance 08-2022-23 which would have allowed for the construction of another 25 homes off of Trenton Road. I feel it is irresponsible to add additional houses to Trenton Road until the Spring Creek Parkway is complete. The Spring Creek Parkway will serve an estimated 40,000 cars a day in an effort to relieve congestion on Trenton Road and Wilma Rudolph Boulevard.
If traffic in this area is so bad that the city must exercise its power of eminent domain for the Spring Creek Parkway project, we should not be approving the construction of a new subdivision just a mile down the road.
In addition to the rezoning applications, the city also approved two new certificates of compliance, chosen by lottery, for residents who plan to open liquor stores in Clarksville. This issue generated a lot of discussion on the council about the number of stores in the city and how they are chosen. Currently, the city code allows for one liquor store per 6000 residents of the city.
Two new certificates can be issued each even-numbered year until we reach the maximum number of stores allowed by the city code. Based on the discussion during the meeting and some comments made by other members of the council, I expect to see some proposed modifications to the city code. I want to know what you think about this issue.
Would you like to see the cap removed, so there are no restrictions on the number of liquor stores in town? Should we try to pass an exemption that allows the city to issue enough certificates to “catch up” to the current maximum number of stores allowed instead of issuing two certificates every two years? Should the current policy be left as-is? Let me know so I can take your wishes to the council!
The last noteworthy item that was discussed was the ordinance to put the question of a home rule charter on the ballot in 2024. A motion was made and passed (I voted no) to delay the second reading of Ordinance 121-2021-22 until March 2023. The justification for delaying the vote on the second reading was to allow new council members (if any) after the election in November to be seated before passing this ordinance.
I want to make something very clear: the city council is not voting on whether or not to adopt a home rule charter. The vote is about whether the city should allow the people of Clarksville to decide whether or not they want a home rule charter. There is a very important distinction between the two. Personally, I am still undecided on the issue.
That is the reason I proposed the amendment to have the question put to the ballot in 2024 instead of 2022. I wanted every voter in the city to have more time to research and decide how they want to vote. I strongly disagree with any attempt to deny the people of Clarksville the opportunity to have a direct vote on this very important issue.
In the meantime, I am still going to dedicate a portion of this newsletter to answer questions about home rule so I can make sure everyone has all the information they need when making a decision about a home rule charter.
With outdoor temps reaching above 90 degrees, United Way, the City of Clarksville, and First Presbyterian Church have partnered together in opening a cooling shelter to provide relief to residents in need! Showers will also be scheduled once per week.
The shelter will be located at 215 Foster Street downtown in the lower-level gymnasium.
We need volunteers to help man the shelter every day beginning Wednesday, June 30 through Monday, August 1st. Monday through Saturday hours will be 1:00pm to 8:00pm, and Sunday hours will be 1:00pm to 6:00pm.
The more volunteers we have, the easier it will be to spread the responsibilities, so please feel free to share with friends, family, your civic or church group, etc. Call United Way at 931.647.4291 for more information or to sign up.
Home Rule Charter FAQ
I will be using this space to answer questions and respond to comments about a home rule charter. Check this section in each edition for new additions. As a reminder, this section exists as a reference page. No part of this page should be interpreted as either an endorsement or opposition to a home rule charter.
My personal feelings about whether or not we should adopt are a home rule charter are, quite frankly, irrelevant. This decision should be put to the voters.
Q: What is a home rule charter?
A: A home rule charter would allow the residents of the city to vote on any changes to the city’s charter. The city charter is different from the city code. Think of the city’s charter as its constitution, while the city code contains the city’s laws and ordinances.
Clarksville’s charter is 28 pages long, while its city code includes thousands of pages. Currently, a change to the city code must first be approved by three-quarters of the city council, then it goes to Nashville for the state to approve or deny. Under a home rule charter, changes to the code would be placed on the ballot for the people to vote on rather than getting approval from the state.
Q: What would be the process for getting a change to the city charter placed on the ballot?
A: Tennessee’s constitution provides for three different ways a charter change could appear on the ballot.
1. A member of city council submits a change that receives a majority vote in favor from the council
2. By a charter commission established by an act of the Tennessee state government and elected by the qualified votes of Clarksville
3. By a charter commission of seven members chosen at large (not more than once every two years) in a municipal election held when called for by not less than 10 percent of the voters in the city.
The 14 cities that currently have home rule charters overwhelmingly use the first option to get charter changes on the ballot. The second method has never been used and the third method has apparently rarely been used (Source: University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS))
Q: I heard that a home rule charter will cost the taxpayers money every time a charter amendment it proposed because an election will have to be held.
A:This is false. Tennessee’s constitution says that home rule charter amendments can only appear on the ballot during a general election, which already takes place every two years. Since charter amendments can only be considered during general election years, there is no added cost to including these items on the ballot during an election that is already taking place.
What else would you like to know? Send questions or comments to me using the contact information at the bottom of this newsletter!
Comprehensive Plan Visioning Workshops
The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) wants to hear from you! This is your
opportunity to influence the future of our city. Help shape a Vision for HOW and WHERE we
grow in the City and County.
Join us for one of three Comprehensive Plan Community-wide Visioning Workshops. If you care about Housing, Transportation, Open Spaces, and Recreation; bring your opinions and ideas to share in small groups and draw on maps!
Snacks and door prizes are provided! The three scheduled workshops are:
Monday, July 11th at 7:30pm at Civic Hall
Tuesday, July 12th at 12:00pm at Kenwood High School
Tuesday, July 12th at 6:00pm at Old Glory Distillery
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.
Going 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 GoVote TN 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!
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.
Clarksville Online is a digital newspaper for the Clarksville-Montgomery County area. Clarksville Online provides the latest news, sports and entertainment information. For Clarksville News now it's Clarksville Online. The Voice of Clarksville Tennessee.