Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Forest Hill Area Fights Back at last night's BMA meeting

A group of Forest Hill Heights citizens voiced their objections at City Hall last night for the third and final reading of the rezoning of the Reaves property, which abuts the new school site. (complete video here, partial linked below). The vote was for the third reading of a zoning change from estate-sized one acre lots to much smaller residential lots. In the executive session of the BMA, it had been decided to defer that vote until the next BMA meeting, due to some legal issues that need further clarification. Several people mentioned to me that former City Attorney Tom Cates was in the audience, and that he was passing notes to various officials. From the Massey in Germantown public Facebook Page--   

I want to send a special thanks to the camera crew for tipping me off to the notes that were passed to the attorney during the BMA meeting last night. And thanks to the City employees who have been cooperating and providing information. Thank you all! More to come...
I wonder what that was about! I will try to post something here as soon as I have more complete information about the legal issues. For a sneak peak at the issue you may look at  another part of his Facebook page:

I find it suspicious that the mayor’s administration did not disclose a 2007 covenant that might indicate that the Reaves Schaeffer property cannot be rezoned. Aldermen Gibson, Owens and Janda have boasted about their private meetings and preparation with staff, yet now they want to claim they didn’t know anything about a 30-page legal document that could be unfavorable to the developer’s application to rezone the Reaves Schaeffer property as PUD with 117 lots.

The postponement of the vote obviously did not deter any of the citizens from exercising their right to speak for three minutes each. And did they ever have a lot to say!  A surprising number of them asked for their comments to be written into the official record.  

As per usual, there was a lot of contention throughout the meeting among the aldermen, and most things came down to the now familiar 3-2 vote. I remember thinking that things were pretty far gone when, in previous meetings, there was controversy about the "consent agenda." Well in this meeting, controversy included the content of the minutes of meetings!

The good news is that apparently the City was prepared for a lot of speakers, as I have not heard anything about the City running out of "Citizens to Be Heard" forms as happened in the January meeting.  

Forest Hill Heights-(credit John Peyton)
Our fellow Forest Hill Heights citizens deserve to be heard, and I will try to make it easy for you to listen without wading through the whole meeting.  All apologies to those whose names I misspelled. Please contact me and I promise to make corrections.

Brian Curry.  You Tube Link to Comments 
Taxes in excess of $400,000 paid by folks in area. Some of the highest property values in Germantown. Feels like area under attack, including an elevated water tower. Why water tower, it was not in site plan for school? Why was it not discussed with neighbors? Why not tell us, in an area of one million dollar homes? We know you are following a plan but not all plans are good. Please listen to us. 

Danielle Taylor You Tube Link to Comments  
One third of lots could be less than 15000 square foot lots, if lots were larger would not object, some lots by railroad tracks very tiny, why create more neighborhoods with school children, we need classrooms, not more students, we already have overcrowded schools, mentions watertower, and neighbors not being notified, creeks that are impacted and ignored by City workers, traffic, etc., promises not kept, what if this was your community?

Allen Taylor You Tube Link to Comments  
Moved to get away from apartments in Collierville, wanted children to be close to nature. Lake was drained with no regard for his property, at one point a dead beaver appeared in front of property, slash and burn tactics, few people notified in the area by City, school supposed to relieve overcrowding, but 894 units now planned in area, and more houses, how does this relieve overcrowding, do you know nothing from hasty and greedy actions of Hickory Hill and Cordova, no wonder citizens are filing lawsuits against their own City. 

Kevin Speed  YouTube Link to Comments  
A lot of good things come from BMA, but you get the gist of our attitude, overdevelopment and density, too much, too fast, in the name of Smart Growth, mentions neighborhoods that were ignored: Nottaway, Germantown North, Germantown Heights, The Vinings, Crestwyn, Forest Hill Irene, and all the developments, and broken promises. Mr. Duke got thirteen and a half minutes to talk, Germantown no longer wants Smart Growth. Citizens no longer in dark.

Brandon Wellford YouTube Link to Comments  
Should be one house per acre on Reaves, there is demand for one acre lots, families need options, most of Germantown on smaller lots, maintain the integrity of the area, now a water tower, say no, even the developer against a water tower there, we do not want street lights, like to see stars, rezoning a step towards PUD with 6000 square foot lots.

Jan Kesling YouTube Link to Comments 
Germantown the place to live, tight restrictions, sign ordinances, privacy, estate sized lots, have a dream house in area, lots of wildlife, cherishes trees, now why do people want to destroy Germantown, built lives around estate sized lots, keep character of community, make it more attractive by getting rid of power lines and put underground, school fine but does not require smaller lots.

Lillian Rinker YouTube Link to Comments 
Bought in area due to low density, thought could trust elected officials, now worried for first time that trust may be wrong, supports education and new school, unhappy with rezoning from estate lots ot PUD, don't appreciate lack of transparency, or watertower, which will be an eyesore, as are apartment buildings, elementary school will be outgrown, property values will drop, conflict of interest, developers and real estate will benefit, but wanton disregard for citizens. 

Penelope Pippin YouTube Link to Comments
Led to believe that quiet neighborhoods were zoned with large estate laws, why change quality of life, except for profit of developers, traffic increase, the people are taxpayers.

Ted Pippin YouTube Link to Comments  
City passed regulations to keep people from having to notify people, "bait and switch" many courts say illegal, listen to what you are considering, no cost-benefit analyses, where are they? Only from developer, and his profits, only one heard. 

Ola Adalay YouTube Link to Comments  
Saw what was happening in Collierville and built dream home for the serenity, wildlife is disappearing, opposes rezoning, not what signed up for, no communication from City re: changes, City is sticking it to area even though pay so much in  property taxes, listen to people. 

Phil Conner YouTube Link to Comments 
Record comments for record, read from staff meeting, City staff comments about apartments, Watermark, Viridian, Parc, November 2017: "Parc-- not much to say other than it does not fit with plan for area. But then the other apartment projects Watermark and Viridian do not either, and that is disappointing." From Economic Development staff: "I too, am disappointed with the lack of conformance by the projects." Why did we not hear that before? I think we know! Does not like the way Alderman Massey is treated.

Sharon Miller You Tube Link to Comments  
Developers being considered before taxpayers. School being built, water tower for water pressure for new developments, not even mentioned to citizens, lack of transparency, Reaves houses do not mirror other developments, low density oasis in Forest Hill, did not move to Germantown to benefit developers 

Steven Ramke   You Tube Link to Comments
Do you get the theme? We were looking for a big lot for kids and dogs, finally found it in the FHH neighborhood. Area is special. Seen multiple proposals, lack of transparency, before vote, need to know Mr. Duke's proposal. It keeps changing, cost/benfit analysis asked for again,  talk of national resources and wellness in Vision 2030, this is just the opposite, what does more houses have to do with relieving crowding in the schools? Need transparency, failing in transparency. We are mobilized. 

Frank or Beverly Booker (I think? could not hear name given) You Tube Link to Comments 
Germantown prestigious, everyone knows about Germantown, concerned about zero lots, up against railroad tracks, like shotgun houses, can't give them away, pays $20,000 in property taxes, discusses traffic and parking for school, asks who on BMA lives in FHH area, sees a degradation in what is going on, BMA in charge, have concern with FHH area, no vested interest in area, BMA has responsibility,  

Michael Doyle You Tube Link to Comments 
Agrees with everyone who spoke, divided group on BMA, school was one thing, supported school, problem with roads, density, already have school overcrowding, looked at Germantown because of two acre lot, real estate agent said it was promised when area got annexed that it would never go to rezoning, broken promises, zero lot lines on Poplar Pike by train tracks couldn't even be sold. 

John Benton You Tube Link to Comments 
Resident of Memphis, neighborhood has one to seven acre lots, Memphis never tried to rezone his neighborhood, wanted to relocate to Germantown, but he has friends that have been telling him what is going on, why would anyone want to move to Germantown?   

Here is a YouTube of most of the meeting (I don't know what happened to the very beginning.)  Below the YouTube I list the speakers, and my brief commentary about each one


  1. Tax payer and voterMarch 28, 2018 at 6:19 AM

    Thank you for shining a light on this very important issue! Bravo!

  2. Per an interested reader of my blog, I am deleting a portion of one citizen's comment in "Citizens To Be Heard". The reader stated that this one particular item was inaccurate. I am not pointing out what I am deleting, because that would only direct people to watch that portion of the City's video, which of course she also claims is inaccurate. If she is correct, I do not want to drive my readers to listen to an inaccurate statement. In an abundance of caution, though I am eliminating the statement from this post, even though it remains in the official City record. I have not independently verified the accuracy of an Citizen to Be Heard's statements, but again, they are on the official recording of the meeting.

    1. Germantown ResidentMarch 28, 2018 at 2:25 PM

      Citizens to be heard is not a court of law and I hope those who live in the community will hold elected officials to the same standards as your blog reader is holding to residents who spoke. One of the main themes is that information and plans have not been shared with residents in the Forest Hill community. School ✅. 5 lane street ✅. Administration building✅. 2,3,5? different proposals for Reaves/Schaeffer property for 60 + housing sites✅. Water tower✅...lack of transparency...✅✅✅✅✅✅

  3. Interesting regarding the opposition to the smaller alley-accessed lots "up against railroad tracks". The same lot type and adjacency to the same rail line on the west side of Germantown commands far greater square foot values than anything found in Forest Hill Heights. In fact, the actual sales price for some homes in Rowan Oak and Nottoway exceed the sales prices of some homes in and around FHH. But hey, why let facts get in the way of opinions?

  4. You would have to talk to the neighbors, but I am not sure that sales prices are their concern. It was more about losing the semi-rural lifestyle that they enjoy. They feel larger lots accommodate that lifestyle more readily. Plus they feel that the new development in the area should fit in with the existing development. Not everyone judges housing choices on $$$ basis. However, I personally do have $$$ concern for the Nottoway residents, particulary those on the western side of the development. Based on the fact that I would not want a parking garage looming over my backyard, I am just going to guess that Travure takes a big chunk of change out of the market value of the homes.