Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Carrefour Meeting in Video and Pictures

Last night's gathering of citizens attempting to learn about the proposed Carrefour project (see my September 17 post) was summed up by one attendee thusly: 

The Commercial Appeal did a super job of reporting. 

The "meeting" consisted of approximately sixty attendees walking around a room containing foam-backed poster boards depicting the proposed outline plan. We learned that the outline plan was filed with the Planning Commission in early September and will be heard by the Commission on October 2. However, in searching the City website, we learned of an earlier public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, September 19)! That's right, we were not told about this one: 

I kept thinking, "Where is the PowerPoint?" Twenty-first century technology was eschewed in favor of having us mill around the foam boards where two different communications specialists were answering individual questions about the project. Obviously they couldn't have a group Q & A. That would be......... too transparent, you know, some of us citizens might hear other citizens' concerns. Our getting questions answered in a group setting would be too efficient. And not giving us a place to sit down ensured that the meeting would be short....... very short.  

Here we were!   

John Peyton uploaded to YouTube a video that gives the flavor of the "meeting", complete with the sound of a train. We do get a slight amount of group feedback here:

Please note in the above video: 

link to specific spot in video 


As was pointed out by a citizen, apartments are permitted under T5 and T6 Smart Growth Zoning.

"AT THIS POINT IN TIME  apartments are not approved."

Remember that the point in time when apartments ARE approved is July 7, 2019, and it could be much sooner, if the Germantown Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Commission, and Rocky Janda have their way, and manage to get this project exempted from the apartment moratorium. That could happen at a meeting any time after the November municipal elections.

If the outline plan is approved, when the apartment moratorium expires in July 2019, apartments could be substituted for the "hotel" without further approvals, because apartments are a permitted use. 

We learned also that no hotel groups have been notified up to this point.

And, as I pointed out in my blog entry yesterday
the Small Area Plan envisions up to 2,188 apartments, which would result in over 600 students being added to the two Riverdale schools and Houston High. 

As you can see from the first picture, the communication specialists invited citizen feedback which consisted of sticky notes on the foam-backed poster boards.

Some samples of the feedback:  

The outline plan, third phase:  

As you can see, there are two new traffic signals, two "hotels", two garages, and the building with FedEx Office and Petra Cafe stays in place. 

The developer was not present at the meeting, so many questions were answered with "I don't know." "No, I really don't know."

From everything presented, rest assured that the developers are going to max out the T5 and T6 density and height. T5 has a maximum of six stories, and T6 has a maximum height of ten stories.

What else can I say? Nothing! Here is the zoning:


  1. This format is in regular use in planning settings, so that's not so unusual. The question ultimately is finding the balance between various land uses, particularly in the interest of creating more revenues for city services.

    1. I realize that they likely teach this format in communication school, or whatever conferences people attend that teach these type things. That doesn't mean that we don't see through the purpose. While the meeting was purportedly to get feedback from the attendees, in theory, in practice, there was nothing about the meeting that facilitated that purpose.

      First of all there were a lot of elderly neighbors attending, and many of them cannot stand comfortably for very long. I heard many of them state, "This is a done deal, I am leaving." When someone purposely shortens the meeting by making the elderly stand around, this does not send the right message.

      Furthermore, yes, I was handed sticky notes, but there was no place to write! My ball point pen was not the kind that writes well when it is not writing with the point down. There were not tables to write on. I had to balance my purse with one hand and put the sticky notes on my purse. It took me a few minutes to write on one sticky note. Standing up!

      I agree with you on finding the right balance between various land uses. What I have found is that the City consistently ignores the "cost" portion of development, and never performs any cost/benefit analyses. An $85,000 study commissioned by the BMA found that ALL residential development, whether single-family or apartment, was a fiscal drain on the City. One factor is the cost of school construction. The City has completely ignored this costly study and has not done anything to do its own fiscal impact study until it was forced on them by the citizens. Now, after looking at some of their work to date, I am not sure I would trust their figures. Williamson County has had to charge developers a fiscal impact fee for building schools. This fiscal impact fee applies to all residential development. State law only allows fiscal impact fees that are reasonable, and of course the developers there have it tied up in court. So, my point is that not only do revenues have to be considered, so do costs, and the costs with residential development are greater than the revenues.

    2. In the video you attached, the man states the meeting was put on and run by the developer?
      Why are you so quick to relate the actions of this meeting to the government in this instance?

      As is customary in meetings of this nature, they're more open/flowy so chairs and designated seating would retract from that effort. Now if an elderly person asked for a seat and was denied one, that would be an issue. But where does this precedence for seating at an informal meeting come from?

      I agree with a lot of things you write here, but nit picking at all these little things like this in a clearly political way is not the appropriate way to create change. It insights anarchy which is what's occurring in this city right now. People are fighting each other over apartments and the likes right now, when just a few years ago we were all unified on what we wanted to see in this city and created a path to get there. Maybe that path needs to change, yes; but fighting with politics is nasty enough on the large national scale, it becomes incredibly more vicious in such a small community like Germantown.

    3. The developer hired Caissa Marketing to put on the meeting, but the developer did not attend. They could not answer all the questions people had.

      I didn't write this with politics in mind at all.

      I was at the meeting, and the format did not work well, for one thing, only about one fourth of the foam boards had anything to do with the project. The others were just pictures of buildings they got somewhere. Everyone crowding around the few foam boards that had anything to do with the project was awkward at best. The meeting lasted about forty minutes is all. There was no place to write our answers. I did not get the feeling they wanted feedback because there was no place to write on the sticky notes.

      I am sorry you did not like the way I wrote this. I don't like anarchy but I think the meeting format incited it, not my truthful account about it. I will admit one thing-- I happen to have a delayed union fracture in my foot and I can't comfortably stand around very long. But others had much worse problems than I. Sitting down wouldn't accomplish anything because then you couldn't see the boards or hear the moderators. I realize that this type of meeting is popular in some formats, but the purpose of it is to just check the box that the meeting was held, not to get feedback from the citizens.

      That was the way I saw it, and I realize I cannot write things that please everybody.

  2. Replies
    1. Me too? Sends entirely the wrong message for the developer not to be present.

  3. I viewed the presenter as adversarial and combative. When one lady asked about the Fountain Square Condo's which are contiguous to this project, he replied rudely that this project does not care about residents adjacent to it. When I asked who thought that Germantown needed an 8 story high rise hotel on the corner of Kirby and Poplar he sarcastically said that was someone else not him. Let me tell you sir that this proposed project directly affects Fountain Square and will directly determine the value of those peoples condominiums. It also impacts traffic ( negatively ) and law enforcement (resources to patrol another high density area ) as well as property values. For you to state that you are not concerned with anyone else but the Carrefour project is insulting and revealing.