Would you support a moratorium of all building permit applications in certain areas of Nashville until infrastructure can catch up? Why or why not? CLEMMONS: I don’t know if a moratorium is the right answer for that, but I think we definitely have a duty to the residents of our neighborhoods to have more responsible management of growth. You’ve got instances right now where, for instance, on Knob Road you have a development wanting to be built without any consideration for the impact of water runoff, without any consideration for the concerns of neighbors, and apparently no consideration for the lack of infrastructure underground with the gross of water pressure, which has public safety concerns and other things in mind. So, we have to be more mindful of the needs and the concerns of neighbors when we’re looking at development in this city. And we also have to consider the impact on what appears to be completely unregulated development and the effect it’s having on our environment. People are building into flood zones, building into buffer zones. We have to be more mindful of the overall quality of life in this city, the impact on the environment as well as the concerns of neighbors and what neighborhoods want and need. BRILEY: No. Whenever you say all, that’s the wrong answer because you’re going to have certain instances where allowing construction might actually help with infrastructure. We clearly don’t want to prohibit that. You have to be conscious about people’s differing circumstances. Somebody might need to add an addition to their house because their parent needs to move in with them. Do we want to deny that permit? I think we
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probably don’t. We might want to do that, right? I think we’ve got to be more forward-leaning in terms of investing in infrastructure, especially in The Nations, but I don’t think we need to have a stark rule. SWAIN: Well, I would never box myself into a blanket solution and that sounds like you would be boxing yourself in. But I do think that we have situations where developers have built a lot of those skinny homes and the sewer systems and the pipes are not adequate. It is problematic that we are putting too many houses in areas where we have not upgraded the sewer system. And that might be why we are getting more flooding. I think that we need to look at what we’re doing and see what the people in those neighborhoods want—I think those should be neighborhood decisions. People that live in neighborhoods ought to have a say about the character of their neighborhoods. That’s how I would address that. I see myself as going more to the people. I will be having lots of town hall meetings and not just to show up, but to really listen and survey people more to know what the residents want. Because at the end of the day, as a public servant, I’m working for them, not working for myself and my buddies. COOPER: Well, I’m not going to support a moratorium. We shouldn’t go backwards as a city, we have to grow and develop. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to try to link infrastructure with improvements. It is a constant frustration that we do zoning first before infrastructure and infrastructure never quite gets there. So, it’s going to be an obligation in the mayor’s office to match that density with infrastructure improvements. But to blanketly say a moratorium is prejudging a whole lot of projects that may be valuable, that may contain afford-
able housing, that may contain grocery stores for communities. So, the projects themselves may actually be desirable. Just to put in a moratorium, I think, is too blunt an instrument.
As mayor, what alternative revenue streams would you introduce so that raising taxes and finding new things to tax wouldn’t be the go-to solution? CLEMMONS: I think we have to sit back and look how our budget is structured today. Again, the question is fairly asked—where’s all the money? Where is the money being sent right now that the city is generating? I think you have to evaluate the property tax breaks that have been given. I think you have to evaluate the money that’s been set aside for various special projects that had been built in the past. And then, when you get into creatively looking at ways to generate new revenue, I think it would be completely fair to consider linkage fees for developers of these big commercial projects in town. They’re building these massive projects and putting additional burdens and pressures on our infrastructure system, but they’re not helping pay for it on the front end. That’s just one example of something that we can consider as a city that other cities use to help modernize and support their infrastructure system. If a developer wants to shut down a road in downtown Nashville, they should be paying a sufficient amount of money to shut down an entire road and inconvenience everyone in this city to do that. Currently, that’s not the case. There are ways that we can facilitate growth without discouraging development, because growth is good. But we need to be realistic and make sure that we are able to generate enough revenue to build a