Good afternoon, everyone.
Welcome back from the weekend. Just a short note this morning: we’ve got some compelling stuff planned for the week ahead. In the meantime, Miles discusses men’s basketball at UT and the prospect of their reaching the Final Four for the first time in program history, and Megan breaks down the labyrinth-like stormwater fee snafu.
✵ VOLS BASKETBALL ON COLLISION COURSE WITH DESTINY?
From Miles Harrington
The dog days of College Basketball are looming. The final month of the regular season is infamous for wearing down pretenders and unveiling Final Four contenders. Teams that tend to gel in February begin to separate themselves from the pack and line themselves up beautifully for a March Madness run. Just ask the UConn Huskies.
Last season, the Dan Hurley-led squad had dropped 6 of 9 contests heading into February, but then witnessed a major shift. The Huskies healed up, which added depth to their bench, and veteran leaders stepped up. UConn would go on to only lose one more game the rest of the way en route to their fifth national title, becoming college basketball’s newest blue blood.
Turning the calendar to 2024, the Tennessee Vols are poised to create some late season magic of their own. It’s no secret that UT has never made it to the Final Four and only once to the Elite Eight in 2010. However, Rick Barnes looks to make a little bit of history in his 8th season in charge of the Big Orange.
❒ STORMWATER PERMIT FEE FOR ALL?
From Megan Podsiedlik
Tomorrow, the council will hear a resolution to amend the Stormwater Capacity Fee, which took effect on July 1st. The new amendment would add exemptions to the original bill, which tacks on a one-time stormwater utility permit fee for any future developments that plug into Metro’s water and sewer system.
HOW IT STARTED
Near the end of 2016, Metro realized it had a problem: Music City was facing “$207 million in backlogged stormwater projects.” To address the ongoing issue, the council approved a monthly stormwater fee in early 2017. According to the Tennessean, the fee was tacked onto “85 percent of Nashville’s homeowners and three out of every four businesses in town.” When last year’s new, one-time stormwater utility permit was introduced, it became clear that Metro Water was still a day late and a dollar short.
"It will be another game-changing private-public partnership," said original bill sponsor Jeff Syracuse on the courthouse floor last February. "A win-win for both sides." His bill established the privately funded fee, which would be used by public engineers to offset the cost of Nashville’s growing impact on its water systems. In doing so, it created two separate funds: the “extension and replacement fund,” which will be bankrolled by development fees collected in the combined sewer service area, and the “stormwater capital fund,” which will be funded by fees collected in the separated sewer service area. The latter will receive an “annual budgetary allocation” decided on by the council each year. At the time, the council also passed an amendment to the bill that created an exemption for affordable housing projects.
HOW IT’S GOING
Last month, Metro Legal raised concerns over potential lawsuits. “At the end of the second quarter of 2023, the master plan [for the stormwater capacity fee] was complete,” explained Coucilcmember Sheri Weiner during 2023's last Budget and Finance Committee meeting, “And that's when the residential developers and their attorneys came and said, ‘If you don't take us out, there's probably going to be a lawsuit because this should not apply to us.’”
Later that day, during Metro’s final meeting of the year, the new exemptions to the Stormwater Capacity Fee were brought before the council. At the time, the resolution was essentially meant to cover all the bases, a lesson learned from the cautionary tale of requiring developers to pay for sidewalks in Nashville. Specifically, it would waive the fee for “satellite cities and single-family, two-family, and residential multi-family projects” outside of the downtown core that don’t directly connect to the mixed water system.
Unfortunately, many questions were left unanswered during discussion, and Metro’s legal team did not have an official analysis available. The resolution wasn’t passed, but instead deferred until January 16th and referred to today’s Transportation & Infrastructure Committee meeting.
As the first official council meeting of the year inches closer, at-large council member Quin Evans Segall filed an amendment to the resolution that would create an appeals process: if passed, it would allow developers to have “the stormwater capacity fee calculation” reviewed. As far as the myriad exemptions outlined in the resolution go, further discussion during today’s transportation committee meeting will likely shed more light on the situation.
Democrats call for removal of education commissioner (Lookout) House Democrats are urging Gov. Bill Lee to oust Education Commissioner Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, saying she is unqualified to hold the post. Reynolds, who replaced Penny Schwinn in July 2023, does not hold a teaching license even though a 100-plus-year-old state law requires the commissioner to be a “person of literary and scientific attainments and of skill and experience in school administration.”
Bill Dance Signature Lakes projects progressing (Main Street) Various projects are underway as part of the Bill Dance Signature Lakes program, a $15 million partnership between the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the state to improve fishing. One involves stocking rainbow trout in Montgomery Bell State Park’s Acorn Lake. The trout are keeping-sized, with a seven-fish daily limit.
City is working on 5,000 requests to clear neighborhood roads (Channel 5) Thousands have asked the Nashville Department of Transportation to clear snow and ice from neighborhood streets. As for the future, the city has ordered 37 new NDOT trucks and plans to take a closer look at how to prioritize effectively and increase efficiency.
- TikTok pursues at least 100,000-square-foot lease in Music Row's Moore Building (NBJ)
- Edley's Bar-B-Que location planned for Gallatin (Post)
- Summer groundbreaking now set for Midtown project (Post)
THINGS TO DO
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.
👨🏻🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.
🪕 Larry Cordle @ The Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info
🪕 Bronwyn Keith-Hynes Band @ Dee's Lounge, 8:30p, $10, Info
💀 Grateful Monday @ Acme Feed & Seed, 8p, Free, Info
🕺 Motown Monday @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $5, Info
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
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- 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
- 🏘 The double-edged sword of prosperity in Tennessee's small towns (Read)
- And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.