By MATT MASTERS
Discussions surrounding the proposed Southwalk development and a proposed amendment to noise ordinances dominated an at-times contentious September Nolensville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Thursday night.
The board ultimately unanimously decided to defer the plan indefinitely at the request of developer Matthew Chilvers, who addressed concerns raised by some members of the board.
The main concern was the differences between the agenda item that was previously passed by the Planning Commission, a P.U.D. concept plan, and a new amended version that Chilvers wanted to be considered by the board — a plan that some on the board, and the town attorney, said appeared to be more of a subdivision plat than a P.U.D. concept plan.
The Southwalk discussion went on for a little more than 30 minutes and included several exchanges between most of the board and the Chilvers, including at one point Chilvers’ telling Mayor Jimmy Alexander, “You can find a million ways to block this, and it’s very possible. I’m offering a compromised plan that if we want to collaborate on it together, I’m saying, I’m willing to do that, we can find whatever it takes to make that work together. I’m willing to do that, but if we’re going to start using excuses or technicalities to block it, you know, then I’m out — I can’t work with that. So we’ll defer and everyone think about that.”
The statement came about after Mayor Alexander voiced his concern with taking up a plan that varied from the one approved by the Planning Commission, saying that it risked “disrespecting the Planning Commission.”
Alderman Derek Adams responded to the mayor.
“For the record, didn’t the Planning Commission approve it so BOMA could deal with it?” Alderman Derek Adams asked. “I’m pretty sure it was a unanimous, we’ll approve this and let BOMA discuss it.”
Mayor Alexander disagreed with Adams’ and Chilvers assessment.
There were four public comments on the proposed development with two in favor and two against Southwalk.
The close second hot topic of the meeting was the first reading of Ordinance 19-11, an ordinance to amend Title 11 Chapter 4 of the Nolensville Municipal Code pertaining to a prohibition on noises.
The item was eventually deferred until October’s meeting with a vote of 6-1, with Adams voting no.
“It’s unanimous except for Derek. That’s one way to say it,” Mayor Alexander said, after Adams clarified for the record that the vote was not unanimous.
Adams, visibly irritated by the comment, responded that there was no significant disagreement about the item in the BOMA workshop, which took place before the 7 p.m. BOMA meeting. Alderman Larry Felts, who introduced the proposal, did move for the deferral.
Some specific language was discussed and the board agreed to make minor changes during the workshop, but during the meeting the benefits of deferring the issue and presenting it with the new language versus passing the first reading and editing the language after the fact were discussed.
The issue is expected to be brought up again in the October BOMA meeting.
Several residents spoke passionately during the public comments section of the meeting in favor of a strong noise ordinance, claiming that Wheeler’s Raid Distillery was disrupting their quality of life.
Most of the residents who spoke out about the alleged noise pollution cited the surrounding jurisdictions’ noise ordinances and lobbied for the police to use their own discretion versus relying on a decibel reading to accurately record the level of noise.
One resident, who identified himself as Todd Jackson, said that the distillery’s attempts to compromise in the dispute were not real efforts at a compromise.
“The distillery wants to take a portion of our peace and quiet, yet in no way wants to compromise their profits in return,” Jackson said. “To the contrary, they want to maximize their profits at the expense of nearby residences.”
Jackson said that he would call the police every time that he was disturbed by noises from “unwanted commercial intrusions.”
Wheeler’s Raid Distillery has been closed since July after the city determined that the building was not up to codes with regard to fire safety. Wheeler’s Raid is correcting the issues, in part by installing a firewall between where they store alcohol and where customers may be in the tasting room.
Resident Paulette Jackson, who stated her address as the same as Todd Jackson, spoke of courage and cowardice, citing the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz, whom Jackson reminded the board was not actually cowardly.
Jackson added to the complaint about noise before listing off what she perceived as the threat of the distillery to public safety.
“Please remember that distilleries blow up,” Jackson said, incorrectly citing a distillery warehouse collapse, not an explosion of a distillery, in June of 2018.
According to the Courier Journal, the warehouse that collapsed was constructed in the 1940s. That collapse did spill large quantities of bourbon into a nearby waterway which killed hundreds of fish, something that Jackson correctly pointed out.
Distilleries are not immune to explosions as malfunctioning equipment has been known to start fires or cause explosions, as reported in this 2015 story from NBC News, while a recent fire at a distillery warehouse that was started by a lightning strike.
CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
The board unanimously approved the consent agenda which included the following items.
Resolution 19-20, a resolution of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to release Regent Homes, LLC from maintenance bonding for roads and public improvements within Eulas Glen Phase 1.
Resolution 19-21, a resolution of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to release SAF Properties, LLC from maintenance bonding for roads and public improvements within Burkitt Village Phase 2.
Resolution 19-22, a resolution of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to release SAF Properties, LLC from maintenance bonding for roads and public improvements within Burkitt Village Phase 6.
Resolution 19-23, a resolution of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen accepting a donation of equipment to the Nolensville Police Department.
Resolution 19-24, a resolution to enter into an interlocal agreement with Williamson County, Tennessee for GIS information exchange
The board also unanimously passed the reading of Resolution 19-26, to enter into an agreement with Bert Kuyrkendall for consultant services.
The meeting ended in a spat between Mayor Alexander and Alderman Adams after Adams claimed that Alexander had delayed or denied items that Adams wanted to be placed on the BOMA agenda.
Mayor Alexander characterized Adams’ requests as more of demands, saying little about the specifics of the complaint, but was visible irritated by the complaint. Alexander did say that some of what Adams wanted had been heard.
The disagreement led to Alexander saying publicly that Adams was going to be removed as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) representative for Nolensville, a position that he was designated as in the July BOMA meeting.
“So to be clear, you’re taking me off the MPO, is that what I just heard?” Adams asked.
“Well, based on your attitude, Derek, what am I to do? You’re difficult to deal with,” Mayor Alexander said.
Beer was brought up in the quarterly BOMA Workshop held before the monthly meeting, in which Mill Creek Brewery’s Founder and CEO Chris Going spoke to the board and answered questions about the possibility of changing some regulations of on-premises beer consumption including days and hours of operations.
“We just want to do what we’re doing well and do it more,” Going said, adding that more operating hours would mean more tax revenue for the city whereas some tax dollars are collected outside of the city through sales of beer that are part of wholesale transactions.
Roads were also discussed in the workshop with construction on Sunset Road nearing completion and several other roads scheduled to be repaired and completed by the end of the year.