Builders, environmentalists argue impact of Nashville conservation bills

Autumn View
Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 19:28:54-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some developers are fighting against two new conservation bills in Metro Council that aim to preserve natural resources.

Real estate experts said the bills would send housing prices through the roof. However, environmentalists believe builders need to take steps to save Nashville's tree canopy.

On the Davidson and Williamson County line, hundreds of homes are being built in the Autumn View subdivision. Most of them have been sold according to Regent Homes President David McGowan. He said they’re in the $450-600,000 range.

"This neighborhood is what we call a cluster lot option development, and you can see right now we’re grating the lots behind us for the next phase," McGowan said.

He said all the flat land has been built on, so now they're clearing slopes.

If the proposed conservation bills pass through the Metro Council, it would impact future projects like this one.

"Government does things that cause unintended consequences, and this is a typical one, basically it’s going to drive the price of the average house in Nashville through the roof," McGowan said.

Metro Council Member Angie Henderson disagrees.

"I think it’s kind of a false dichotomy," Henderson said, "You really get affordability through density. We’re not really garnering affordable housing through a typical single-family subdivision."

She said developers can protect forests while building homes.

"We’ve got to develop with principles," Henderson said.

The bills are supported by groups such as the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps and the Southern Environmental Law Center.

"Those natural resources that are retained are an asset to those homes and add value to those homes," Henderson said.

McGowan believes he has 3,000 lots that would be impacted. He said there's a need for 40,000 homes to meet current demand.

"Currently we’re only doing about 16,000 housing permits a year for single family homes," McGowan said.

If the bills pass, developers said they won't be able to build as many homes on some of their properties.

"They see a bill that’s going to protect a tree, bottom line is, it’s going to affect the average consumer," McGowan said.

The next discussion will be at the planning commission on April 28.

You can read about it on page 45.