Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NextDoor poll on apartments; Bait and Switch in Forest Hill Heights Area?

Over the long holiday weekend, a flurry of activity on Nextdoor, a social networking site for neighbors, indicated a strong pushback by citizens against plans for any more apartment complexes. Generally the site is filled with messages of lost pets, giveaways of unneeded household items, crime and possible crime in the neighborhood, and recommendations for contractors and other service providers. 

This weekend, the subject of the proposed moratorium filled the Germantown Nextdoor neighborhood groups. Someone in one of the large Germantown neighborhood groups finally created a poll on the subject. Another person followed suit in order to reach even more neighborhood groups. I happen to live in an area that the polls did not reach, but the two polls together did reach most of Germantown. While certainly unscientific, it definitely indicates that there is substantial pushback from citizens in almost all parts of town against the idea of more large apartment projects in the city, whether or not they are part of a "mixed-use" project. A screen shot at 9am this morning revealed the results: 

They could be a little blurry. The first one reads--The City has approved several new apartment complexes in the near future. Right now, it looks like about 1,000 units in several complexes have been approved. The mayor's moratorium is only for standalone complexes. 


I am AGAINST more complexes 94%

I am FOR more apartments 3%

Unsure 3%

Voted: 212 Votes 

The second one reads: 

Poll for or Against New Apartment Development? And notes that apartment complexes could increase City revenue


Against New Apartments 95% 

Unsure   3% 

For more apartments 2%                    

A few Germantown neighborhoods had both polls, and a few had none. The neighborhood format of NextDoor is confusing. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the numbers of people voting No to more apartments certainly sends a message that the citizens strongly oppose the loophole in the proposed moratorium which allows "mixed- use" projects to be excluded from the proposed moratorium.  As noted in an earlier post, apartments in mixed-use projects impact services and schools as much as stand-alone apartment complexes, so there is no real rationale for excluding them from the proposed moratorium. I had nothing to do with proposing the poll or posting the poll. It is true that someone linked this blog to it, so I wanted to clarify that I had nothing to do with the polls, other than to ask someone to screenshot these and send them to me. As noted, I live in an area of our City close to Memphis, and my neighborhood was not even included, so I didn't vote in it.  

This also shows that it is not NIMBY at work (Not In My Back Yard). A broad spectrum of neighborhoods voted in this poll,  (added information)--This poll did not even include Neshoba North neighborhood or much of the Forest Hill area, which are the neighborhoods most impacted by future apartment plans.

Bait and Switch--The BMA approval of More Possible Apartment Areas at their last meeting

The goal of the proposed moratorium seems to be at odds with a major decision made at the last BMA meeting, when three of the five aldermen (Janda, Gibson and Owens) voted to EXTEND Smart Growth T5 designation to the entire Forest Hill Heights area and increase the density allowable. The practical effect of that extension is that it allows apartment complexes like the fully approved Watermark anywhere in the area. While the proposed moratorium would include stand-alone apartment complexes such as Watermark, it would not include Watermark type complexes as long as they had something like a public coin operated laundry attached to it, or a FedEx office attached to it (either of these two things would satisfy the "live, work, play" goal of Smart Growth). I thus do not see any reason for the exclusion of mixed-use apartment complexes from the proposed moratorium. An apartment building with a public coin operated laundry attached to it is still an apartment building, from my reckoning.

Of course, I also do not see the rationale for the extension of the T5 Smart Growth designation to the entire Forest Hill Heights area. As noted in a previous post, the number of rental apartment units in the Viridian and Watermark alone already exceed the 10 year planned buildout of the total rental and ownership units in the Small Area Plan developed just two years ago by RCLCO. And, of course, that includes mixed-use and stand-alone projects. The Small Area Plan meetings were attended in good faith by citizens in the area. How is the approval of the T5 overlay to Forest Hill Heights allowing more apartment complexes of increased density anything other than "bait and switch"?

1 comment:

  1. I'm concerned that the large concentration of apartments will end up being another Knight Arnold/Hickory Hill, an area where there are several large complexes all in one area, with a lot of resident turn-over and the resulting crime and traffic and trash that causes. It's not that apartments are inherently bad, but no matter where I've lived, large complexes that all run together tend to turn into "no-man's lands" of transients who have no commitment to their neighborhood because it's just temporary. Being in Germantown city limits won't stop that from happening...especially since they will be on the sprawl of Winchester.