Nashville Ready Mix Proposes concrete Batch Plant - NorthEast Nashville's Katie Hill Community is Not Happy.
* notice of correction. I incorrectly quoted who is representing Nashville Ready Mix as Jessica Lucyshyn. Those statements were corrected below and now show the correct attorney representing Nashville Ready Mix as Erica Garrison with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP.
I debated to write about this on my blog, but hang with me through this. I then realized I am a community organizer and this is what I do. Plus I have a Pit Bull and an English Bulldog. The saying goes true " An owner makes a conscience choice when deciding a particular dog breed that reflects their own personality" :-) .I chose appropriately.
On December 22, 2014, I received a notice from the planning commission titled " Notice of Development Application Filing". ( see image) . The request states the applicant is requesting to amend the community plan and rezone properties to Specific Plan district to permit a new concrete batch plant. As I am sitting down for a hot cup of tea to read the mail, I suddenly stop in silence to process what i just read. What? A concrete batch plant?
This blog entry addresses the following -
The Confused Councilman?
I immediately decided to email My district 2 councilman, Frank Harrison. His response was " How did you find out about this?" and asked me to give him a call. RED FLAG.
After Christmas and all of my Toy Drive, I was able to sit down, and read through the additional notice I received stating there will be a community meeting on January 5, 2015 at the Nashville Ready Mix location at 605 Cowan. I then gave Frank a call to discuss what all of this really meant, obviously before I jump to any conclusions. But the notice was pretty Clear: Amend the community plan and rezone properties to Specific Plan district to permit a new concrete batch plant.
Below is the conversation Frank and I had on 12/28/2014 ( you can either read or listen - i am posting the recording in a separate blog - click here ). Either one of two things occurred, either Frank was lying to me, or really just has NO idea what is going on in District 2. Either way, what a shame. I had not intended on recording this ,but I was so busy that week, and quite honestly did it so I could listen back. I'm ADD and I miss things. If you would like to read the transcript, here ya go. I have highlighted a few important statement and my thoughs during this conversation are in green after i listened to the conversation over and and over again. ( or BS statements really )
Me- I am finally able to sit down for a minute and look at things. So I wanted to call you and see what you know about this concrete batch plant and re-zoning request that I received a notice on.
So there you have it. I felt disgusted after that conversation. This the first time I have ever first hand experienced the downside of politics. When I asked Frank Harrison his thoughts, he could not answer my question. Frank Harrison really just wanted me to go away. Well, sir, that is not going to happen. His reaction at the community meeting was quite opposite. He knew a lot about the plans to sound so uneducated about them when i was on the phone with him. I have since then spent days and hours doing research with some of my neighbors and found quite a bit of disturbing information about Nashville Ready Mix. I first went to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to see how well This company has complied with environmental standards, unlike what NRM stated in the Tennessean article just written last week. Please take a look at the following violations.
Next up - Nashville Ready Mix - Obviously not Environmentally Ready Mix.
This is a complaint Just recently in October and photos sent in from the individual who filed the complaint - TDEC Stated in the investigation " The failure to maintain appropriate sampling and monitoring records and the failure to have a site specific SWPPP meeting the RMCP permit requirements at the site are violations of the RMCO General NPDES permit, and the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act."
Below are more violations by Nashville Ready mix over the years. I can see why they have never really fixed any of their environmental problems. What is the consequences or fines for dumping concrete in the river, or not having a proper storm water pollution prevention plan? Nothing really.
If you do not wish to read through all of the violations above, let me give you the cliff notes version:
1. Multiple violations in regards to no Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans on Site throughout the years.
2. Complain in 2005 from a citizen that states cement solids were being dumped into the Cumberland River by a front end loader. The results of the investigation concluded that The General Manager of the plant did not even know if a SWPPP for the facility even existed. They also discovered materials had spilled over the walls of the storage bins.
3. in 2012, a complain was made by the city regarding large amounts of materials being tracked out onto Cowan Court. TDEC recommended a sweeper attachment to keep the street clean, yet Jeff Bryant, GM of NRM, decided that they would just "put measures in place to prevent the tracking of materials onto the street". Well, Mr. Bryant, your system hasn't worked very effectively. (See photos ).
4. May 2008 - A NOV/SWO was issues to James, Mark, and Steve Meadows, for grading/Filing without a permit and in a floodplain, inadequate EPSC, and illicit discharge. The penalty was $500. Are you kidding me? $500? This was actually at 1326 Baptist World Center Drive, where Meadows Excavating is located. But interestingly enough, I have NEVER seen a Meadows Excavating truck there, they all say Nashville Ready Mix. It is a huge lot filled with Nashville Ready Mix Trucks. I wonder if this is still going on today since Frank said they are just wanting to "part their trucks legally".
6. May 2011 - A file review indicated that Discharge Monitoring Reports for the following facilities were not submitted to the division since October 2007.
and the list goes on.
All of the violations above are all pretty much awful for our environment and negligent on the part of Nashville Ready Mix. It's obvious they have zero concern for the environment and could give a crap about the community or neighborhood. This is a photo of what it looks like in front of their property just a couple of weeks ago before the community meeting. Hmmm. Looks really nice and clean. I'm sure their attorney or PR person had someone clean it up since I looked yesterday and it wasn't as bad.
And last .. So Fast Foward ... Nashville Next... What?
On Monday January 5, 2014, my self, around 20 other Katie Hill Neighbors, Stephanie McCullough with Metro Planning, Erica Garrison with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP Jessica Lucyshyn, the Attorney for Nashville Ready Mix ( Gresham, Smith & Partners), Frank Harrison - District 2 Councilman, Scott Davis - District 7 Councilman, Walter Hunt - District 5 Councilman, and the GM for Nashville Ready Mix, all gathered in a little tiny room at the Nashville Ready Mix location on Cowan Street. Throughout the entire meeting I was completely confused. Does Stephanie McCullough work for NRM? Does Erica Garrison work for Metro? It was as if we were walking into a situation in which there was no reason to have a meeting. If you would like to hear the entire meeting, click here. This is what Frank Harrison stated half way though the meeting:
"Correct me if i am wrong Councilman Hunt ( who is on the planning commission) , there is no guarantee right now, so when this goes to the planning commission for rezoning and the SP, there may be some questions about the dust, concern about the contamination, or concerns about the proximity to the river and storm water, but all of the engineers at the planning commission are the ones who will be looking at all of this and they are the ones to decide if this is a done deal and if this gets done. So we could sit around here all day and discuss or talk about the pros and cons and what you think would be better or what you think would best, but still the bottom line is that the planning commission and engineers are the one who will determine and give the final ok if this SP and if the rezoning occurs."
Ummm.... So why are we here? Why did you tell me to come to this meeting and express my concerns to Mr. Meadows ( who wasn't even there). The entire room sat in confusion and verbally stated, "Why are we here again?"
The attorney for Mr. Meadows, Erica Garrison, had some very encouraging words as well (Sarcasm) -
This is an SP ( Special Project) so in a very real essence of the community , anything can be put on that site without any community input in the current IWD zoning. In terms as to what can happen on that IWD zoning, anything can happen on that property, there is absolutely no incentive to get community input or requirements to clean up the property, and I’m not saying as a threat, but I am saying that is just the current status of what it is, but under the new SP, if you want additional landscaping that is a conversation that we can have. A Batch plant is not something that everyone absolutely is going to love, but it is a necessary for Nashville and our economy and it is one of those things that we must have and if done in a sensitive way, for areas in which industrial is already there, it can be done very good in our opinion.
News Flash Ms. Garrison, we completely understand what is there now, and understand that Nashville Ready Mix doesn't give a sh*t about cleaning it up obviously. There is trash everywhere and they dump concrete in the Cumberland river. WE get that. And that gives us even more conviction in fighting this. What makes you, as an educated woman, come to the conclusion that Nashville Ready Mix is going to all of the suddenly follow the rules and regulations when it comes to protecting our environment and natural resources? You wouldn't like a concrete batch plant in your back yard spreading contamination, noise, and creating a safety hazard when your children are playing or walking home from school. Get a heart woman, and save your political correct answer for someone else besides me. It's sad to me that people will fight for something so blatantly wrong for a community AND the environment, to get a paycheck or push some hidden agenda. I understand what it is zoned as now, and have NEVER complained. I moved here looking at that dump. I didn't move here and work this hard for my community, to have my councilman, his back door political "good ole boys" system, or the planning commission to change the entire community plan to build a concrete batch plant in my back yard. And lastly Ms. Lucyshyn, no, not just anything can be put in the IWD zoning. Such as a concrete batch plant. If that were the case, the batch plant would already be there, but IWD does not permit Heavy Industrial for a purpose. And yes, its obvious that they don't have to clean it up or do anything with it, its a legal junk yard flowing into the Cumberland River contaminating our water and killing our wildlife. So your creative way to make the SP sound brilliant, doesn't work so well. Your SP would puts heavy manufacturing in an area. It's pretty obvious Ms.Garrison assumed she was talking to a group of Kindergartners.
Ironically, not all businesses or residents got notification of this meeting. Although there was one lady at the meeting in favor of moving the Nashville Ready Mix plant to Vashti. She works for Sound Check and name dropped all of the famous artist who store their equipment in her building and stated they would NOT store their equipment there if dust was a problem or even noise. This lady tried to compare Vince Gill storing his guitar in the building to the fruit distributors that would be storing the fruits and vegetables that feed the army and all of Nashville. Considering the doors being open in the 4 produce buildings surrounding the proposed concrete batch plant, contamination and pollution of food is a HUGE concern and could put these companies out of business and even worse, an epidemic of food contamination across the city of Nashville and beyond. Quite horrific to thing about right? I also researched more into Sound Stage, and ironically, Mr. Steve Meadows, the owner of Nashville Ready Mix, owns the property at 740 Cowan St. , in which Sound Check stores all of its famous and fancy equipment of the almighty country music empire. I wonder why she was even there? It is proposed to move AWAY from her, not in her back yard. She should be screaming praises instead of even opening her mouth. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Mr. Meadows also purchased 411 Cowan Street for $1.25 million in September under the name of :
CI Partners, LLC
6E Monroe Street Suite 300
Chicago, ill. 60603
which is affiliated with:
Monroe Investment Partners
30W Monroe, Suite 1000
Chicago, Ill 60603
All in all, sorry lady, you are not a property owner, you are a renter. And even more, you are irrelevant in the conversation. Bye Felicia.... and bye Vince Gill or Amy Grant. I don't care ???
In conclusion regarding the meeting, it was basically to tell us what to expect and we could pick out what type of trees we wanted as the buffer, how in the hell do you buffer an 85 ft silo in the air? Following the meeting, I nearly cried for 2 hours. I felt so disappointed and saddened that my councilman felt as if this is something good for the community. After all of the hard work I have put into building my community, all of the Nashville Next meetings I have attended and given feedback on how we envision Katie Hill (with Frank Harrison sitting right beside me), and all of the community service work to build my neighbors up.
In the process of everything, I was told Frank Harrison is interested in running for the metro council at large position in the August elections. His seat is up for re-election for district 2 come August. Frank Harrison has stated to a couple of my colleagues " I would like to run for council at large if I don't get any bad press." I have also had 2 people inform me that the right amount to get this stop would be around $30-40k, as that is what would be needed to run a good city wide campaign to be an effective candidate for the council at large position. I have not been able to pin point the money part quite yet, but I will find it if it exist. I have already spent hours in the election commission looking at the contributions made to past 2 campaigns which include mainly of developers and real estate agents. There is nothing wrong with that in my opinion if they truly support him, and I cannot state factually if those individuals do or not. I also uncovered that Mr. Meadows was the former Potentate of the Shriners here on Brick Church Pike. Apparently the Shiners are pretty influential people, and ironically where we hold our Nashville North By Northeast meetings every month. No wonder my NNxNE colleagues won't back me up here and just want to sit back and watch.
Let me also say this, I have NEVER taken credit for starting Nashville North By Northeast United, but I will let you all decide who you think is responsible for it, and doing any of the work. I will also let you decide who is in this to build a community or who is in this for money. Wow, have I learned a lot. For example, Not one business owner showed up to the Talbot Family Cemetery Clean up ( which is NOT on Katie Hill, but part of Nashville Northeast) to actually work. One came for a photo op and then left. That was my test in showing who really cared, and no one cares, unless money is involved. It really was just something to talk about in the monthly meeting, and I am tired of being the only one who shares good news, or any news at all. I'm learning so much these days.
I have realized.... those of my colleagues I normally would depend on backing Katie Hill up, have stood silent. Either stood silent, or are completely in favor of the concrete plant. THIS MAKES ABSOLUTELY no sense, based on all of the past Nashville Next community meetings with UT and Georgia Tech students, as well as the community surveys. Why the hell do we even do these surveys? Is this just a ploy to make people think as if Nashville really even cares about what the neighbors want and money is the true factor in all of this?
Read these blogs also - I am apparently not the only ones questioning this and now I feel like I am experiencing this power crunch first hand.
"My considered suspicion of Nashville Next is often met with disbelief, defensiveness and frustration by those who enthusiastically participated in its process or those who believe it changes nothing about past community planning.
But Nashville Next has been the next stunt to lead neighbors into believing that they have influence over their community's character, when in reality they little. Planners shift paradigms and communities are thrown off balance. Market-driven developers, power-hoarding politicians and esoteric new urbanists have the strongest hold of the reigns of planning of anyone." - Mike Byrd, The Enclave
I realize that concrete is necessary to keep up with the growth in the Nashville community, but why move the plant a half a mile up the road into a FLOOD plain when we already know this company HAS ZERO respect for the environment or taking pride in the community or their property? Metro Planning has taken "all of the information we provided them at the community meeting and "all of the research from their engineers" and come to the recommendation to have the planning commission (board) approve the community plan amendment and the zoning change to SP to build a concrete batch plant. Sadly, we knew this was coming because it is a political decision, not a planning commission decision.
So in conclusion, I am getting to the bottom of this and i have started an online causes petition in which you can find here and sign. I am also going to be posting photos, recorded conversations and will link through to those as soon as I get them posted along with the latest photos I have taken of the current site.
The public hearing is set for Thursday January 22, at 4:00pm at the Sonny West Conference Center ( First Floor), 700 2nd Avenue S. I will be there and I am encourage all of those who are interested in making a statement about what we as citizens can do to get back our communities, please attend also. Everyone has told me I am crazy and i can't make an impact or change this outcome, but at least I will go down fighting for Katie Hill, and fighting for my city and whats right.
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Click Here for More photos
Click Here for Audio of conversation with Frank Harrison
Click here to Show support and sign the petition