12 South Resident Prepares For Battle Over Construction

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 20:02:15-04

Every day, 12 South resident James Brown has rolled out of his home in his motorized wheelchair and headed down the road, or at least he has tried to.

"I go everywhere in this wheelchair now these days, yeah," said Brown. 

His home has now been shadowed by a scene all too familiar in the new Nashville: more condos, more development, more construction.

"This sidewalk has just been wiped out, and I'm afraid this sidewalk will be wiped out," Brown explained. 

For the last ten months and for many more to come, Brown has heard and lived next to the drilling, blasting, and sawing that comes with projects like the one next door. Sometimes the work has started hours before sunrise.

"I always thought progress was driven by need, not greed. What I see is pure greed," Brown said. 

The alley between his yard and the construction has been more like the line drawn into the sand, and Brown has been ready for battle.

"I rolled out into the middle of this alley, and I sat there for an hour. I stopped the whole thing," Brown explained.

"There have been some times when they really shouldn't have been working, and we've been continually working together to try and resolve those issues, but it appears some of those issues are continuing," said District 17 Councilman Colby Sledge.

As developers have rushed to make a profit, residents like Brown have been paying the price.

"They may come into a neighborhood and tell you how much they care about a neighborhood, but they're lying through their teeth. They don't care about the people and the neighborhood," said Brown. 

"Unfortunately we have a lot of laws and a lot of regulations that were designed for a city that's much smaller than we are right now and a city that wasn't experiencing the growth that we're experiencing now," Sledge said. 

Sledge has believed growth may be inevitable, but there have been ways developers can be held accountable.

"Nashvillians need to reach out to their council members, they need to reach out to their local governing officials, and they need to make their voice heard. We have a real housing issue in the city, and there are solutions on the table, but we need to see the support from the public to do so," said Sledge.

Next week, a bill has been set to go before the planning commission that will create guidelines for builders to include a certain number of affordable housing units. It's meant to partner with the affordable housing incentive grants Mayor Megan Barry announced earlier this week.