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VOL. 130 | NO. 130 | Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Memphis City Council to Vote on Forrest Statue Removal

By Bill Dries

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[Update: Adds specifics of City Council's proposal on Nathan Bedford Forrest. The council will vote on the Forrest statue removal today.] With the city budget season done, Memphis City Council members turn their attention Tuesday, July 7, to development in the Pinch district, the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest and redrawing council district lines.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, for live coverage as well as updates on committee sessions earlier in the council day.

At the 1:35 p.m. executive session, council members have their first group discussion of Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s call to move the statue of the Confederate General, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard.

Memphis City Council members vote Tuesday on a resolution that would declare a 120-day moratorium on new building permits in the Pinch District. 

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

The draft version of the ordinance released Monday afternoon by council attorney Allan Wade involves a condemnation process for the statue noting the statue is “tangible personal property belonging to the city.”

The ordinance would declare the statue as “unfit for service or use by the city, since it is inconsistent with the purpose, intent and future land uses of the Medical Overlay District, which is to support the development and investment efforts of the state and other institutions in the medical district and surrounding neighborhoods.”

“The city does hereby authorize the immediate removal of the equestrian statue from City Of Memphis’ Health Sciences Park, subject only to the requirements of state law, if any,” the ordinance continues, adding that the administration is authorized to “sell, transfer, assign and convey all of the city’s right, title and interest in the equestrian statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest.”

City Council members will also vote Tuesday on the future of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

Health Sciences Park is the new name the council gave Forrest Park two years ago.

Wade also drafted a resolution sent to council members Tuesday morning that uses the same language as the ordinance. It also announces the city's intent to disinter the bodies of Forrest and his wife in the base of the monument.

But Wade told council members in a Tuesday committee session the city would ultimately have to go to court for that part of the action.

The resolution would take effect after just one vote instead of the three readings required for an ordinance. And council chairman Myron Lowery said he intends to add the resolution to Tuesday's agenda for a vote with first reading of the ordinance coming at the council's second meeting in July.

During its afternoon meeting, the council considers a resolution by council member Berlin Boyd that would put in place a 120-day moratorium on any new building permits in the Pinch District.

Boyd wants the moratorium in place to allow for more project scrutiny in the district. Several developments surfaced after Bass Pro Shops’ April grand opening at The Pyramid, just across Front Street from the western border of the Pinch. The moratorium, however, would allow the council to grant waivers.

During an 8:30 a.m. committee session, the council discusses a redrawing of council district lines to incorporate newly annexed areas including South Cordova. Past council redistricting to account for newly annexed areas have historically involved basic district-line changes.

The council also votes Tuesday on a planned development at the southeast corner of Jackson Avenue and North Main Street, just north of the Interstate 40 overpass.

Pinch Partners LLC’s mixed-use plan involves one acre, made up of the corner lot that has three existing buildings on it and two surface parking lots. A billboard that doesn’t conform to zoning regulations currently stands on one of the parking lots; Pinch Partners wants to move it and turn it into a digital billboard.

Council approval would allow the new billboard, and OPD officials will go along with approval provided there is “attention to placement and scale” that ensures “the projected theme of the community is not compromised.”

The Office of Planning and Development in its staff report recommends no gas station, drive-in restaurant or indoor recreation business on the site. And any new building could be no more than six stories high, which increases the height restriction for the Uptown zoning district by 20 feet.

In other planning and zoning items, the council votes Tuesday on a Family Dollar retail store at 912 Jackson Avenue at Ayers Street.

Dollar Tree is acquiring Family Dollar in a $9.2 billion deal, and the council votes on the planned development just days after Dollar Tree reached a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General in 17 states including Tennessee.

The settlement requires Dollar Tree to sell more than 300 Family Dollar stores to Sycamore Partners for rebranding as DollarExpress discount stores. The settlement comes after the FTC and the Attorneys General raised concerns about a lack of competition and higher prices as a result of the merger.

The terms include the sale of three Family Dollar stores in Memphis including the locations at 6195 Winchester Road, the Southgate Plaza shopping center at 1945 S. Third St. and at the Lamar Airways Shopping Center at 2252 Lamar Avenue.

The council also votes Tuesday on third and final reading of an ordinance that would grant new powers to the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board, which was recently reconstituted by Wharton after essentially being dormant for years.

And the council votes on third and final reading of an ordinance that allows facilities with power boilers to use remote gauges that can be monitored by someone other than a building engineer on a less frequent basis than is currently required.

Some building engineers claim the change, already approved by the Shelby County Commission, is dangerous.

Before the vote, council members will hear from both sides of the issue during the 1:35 p.m. executive session.

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028