It’s over and better for Richland Creek, all our streams

Before after photoWe are pleased to announce that we have been able to successfully resolve our legal dispute with Metro and Saint Thomas regarding the redevelopment of the Imperial House property located next to Saint Thomas West Hospital.

In Richland Creek Watershed Alliance, Inc. v. The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, et al, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court in May of 2015, RCWA challenged the validity of the Metro Council’s adoption of Ordinance No. BL2015-1094, which granted a rezoning request to Saint Thomas to change the zoning of the Imperial House property and the Knights of Columbus property on Bosley Springs Road to a Specific Plan (SP) zoning district pursuant to a Specific Plan that was approved as part of the adoption of the Ordinance.

RCWA spoke on behalf of the creek at the public hearings and met with the parties involved to try to make sure the protection of Richland Creek was a consideration in any plans for development. The creek runs between the two parcels at issue and the entire area was completely underwater during the 2010 flood. RCWA was forced to file suit when Metro granted the rezoning request without requiring any floodway buffer on the Imperial House site, interpreting the applicable ordinances to exempt the property from compliance with the current Metro Stormwater regulations because it had been “previously developed.”   Applying this interpretation to this development and other development in the city would have had a devastating effect on the quality of Nashville’s freshwater streams. It was the first time the ordinance had been applied in this way. We had no choice but to take action.

After nearly two years of litigation, and with an appeal pending in the Court of Appeals, we are very grateful to Saint Thomas and to our attorney, Sharon Jacobs of Bone McAllester, for working with RCWA to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to this dispute.   Saint Thomas agreed to modify their Specific Plan (BL2017-655) to provide for and maintain a water quality buffer on the former Imperial House property and to add additional buffer protection to the Saint Thomas West property. In accordance with protections lobbied for by RCWA, the Knights of Columbus property will be placed under a conservation easement and not developed and impervious areas (old concrete pavement) located on that property will be removed and revegetated. Other remediation work may also be conducted as approved by Metro Stormwater, including bank restoration and tree plantings.

We appreciate the public support of our efforts in challenging this rezoning. We are especially excited to share that, as a result of bringing to light this potentially disastrous conflict between the Metro ordinances and the Metro Stormwater regulations, the Metro Council has passed Ordinance BL-2016-513, eliminating the conflicting ordinance language and making it clear that, when property is redeveloped, the floodway buffers will have to be preserved. We thank the Metro Council, Mayor Barry, and the Metro Stormwater staff for taking this important step toward providing that our streams and other waters are protected as Nashville grows.

Richland Creek Watershed Alliance. All rights reserved. Richland Creek Watershed Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.