VOL. 130 | NO. 131 | Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Council Approves Pinch Moratorium, Delays Vote On Civilian Police Review Board
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Council members approved a 120-day moratorium Tuesday, July 7, on new building permits in the Pinch district as they also approved a planned development in the Downtown district.
The moratorium proposed by council member Berlin Boyd allows the council to grant waivers on a case-by-case basis during the four-month period. During the fourth months, the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Planning and Development will come up with some suggested guidelines for future development of the district that borders the reactivated Pyramid.
Boyd proposed the moratorium after he said un-named “stakeholders” in his council district appealed for some sort of better planning in the district. The concern came as several development proposals surfaced after the late April opening of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.
One is a gas station and the other is an extended stay hotel. The moratorium would not apply to those projects and others already in the “pipeline” of seeking approval.
Boyd drew fire from council members Janis Fullilove and Wanda Halbert for not disclosing who those citizens are.
“Will you say who these people are that wanted the councilman to not be as transparent as we know we all should be?” Fullilove asked Boyd.
“I’m being transparent because I’m their representative,” Boyd replied. “If they want me to hold it as proprietary information, I will do so.”
Boyd said he and the constituents want to see “the highest and best use” of the property in the district.
The mixed-use planned development by Pinch Partners LLC is on the southeast corner of Jackson Avenue and North Main Street within sight of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.
The parcel of several lots is where the Balinese Room banquet hall is located as well as a duplex and Ferraro’s Pizzeria and Pub. The two surface parking lots also include a billboard that would remain but be moved to a corner of one of the parking lots to make the redevelopment possible.
“If not for this planned development, nothing could happen on this property,” said Brenda Solomito-Basar, the representative of Pinch Partners.
Boyd expressed concern about the general nature of the proposal which allows buildings on the site to go up to six stories instead of the four story limit in the development zone.
Because the proposal is a planned development, its details are defined by conditions, which in this case includes an agreement by the developers it won’t be a gas station or indoor recreation area.
In other action Tuesday, the council debated and then delayed third and final reading of the long-delayed ordinance that would give the city’s Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board some new powers in investigating allegations of police misconduct.
But there were some significant last-minute changes based on advice from council attorney Allan Wade.
The original proposal would have given the board subpoena power in conducting its investigations. But Wade said the council cannot give its subpoena power in the city charter to another organization. Instead the amendment says city employees must cooperate with an investigation by the board in producing documents and in testifying.
The review board could investigate an allegation at the same time police Internal Affairs is investigating the same complaint, instead of waiting for the police internal investigation to be completed.
But Internal Affairs records could not be turned over to the review board until the IA investigation is completed. The amendment says the police internal investigators cannot unreasonably delay or hold up saying their investigation is complete.
The council appeared poised to vote on the amended ordinance a final time.
But Memphis Police Deputy Director Anthony Berryhill told the council that police brass wanted a two-week delay to review the proposed amendments before taking their position on the ordinance.
The council approved the delay.
The council also delayed for two months a final vote on an ordinance backed by the Greater Memphis Chamber that would change standards for operating and monitoring power boilers. It would allow less frequent monitoring of boilers using remote gauges and indicators.
It would also allow companies with the boilers to use employees other than certified boiler operators to monitor the boilers.
The chamber and businesses contend the city regulations should comply with every other county in the state that allows for the use of computer gauges and drops the certification requirement.
But licensed boiler operators contend the new standard would endanger safety.
In other planning and zoning items, the council approved a used car dealership at 5050 Summer Avenue and an office building as the latest addition to the Southwind Planned Development at 5210 Players Club Parkway.
The council delayed action for two weeks on a proposed Family Dollar Store at 912 Jackson Avenue when the applicant didn’t show up for a committee session on the planned development.