ORDINANCE NO. BL2009-480
An ordinance amending Title 17 of the Metropolitan Code, Zoning Regulations, by amending Chapter 17.40 to require applicants requesting amendments to the official zoning map to submit certain information regarding the use of lobbyists, public relations firms, pollsters, and other firms contracted to communicate with the public regarding the zoning application (Proposal No. 2009Z-014TX-001).
WHEREAS, certain applicants for rezoning have hired individuals and corporations whose activities are wholly unregulated in attempts to alter public opinion regarding zoning issues; and
WHEREAS, certain applicants have utilized misleading, if not deceitful, tactics to alter public opinion, including push polling, use of false names and e-mail addresses, anonymous statements and videos through electronic means, and other sharp tactics; and
WHEREAS, the testimony of the public has a significant impact upon the Metropolitan Council’s deliberations of proposed zoning requests; and
WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council respects the right of applicants to zealously advocate for the merits of their proposed zoning requests, but believes that such applicants should be accountable for the statements that they make and the tactics that they employ in that process; and
WHEREAS, requiring disclosure of statements made on behalf of a proposed zoning request will allow the Metropolitan Council to make a more clearly informed decision about such requests; and
WHEREAS, it is in the interest of the Metropolitan Government to require applicants communicating, directly or indirectly, with residents of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County regarding any proposed or pending application for zoning request to report their activities to the Metropolitan Government.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:
Section 1. That Chapter 17.40 of the Metropolitan Code is hereby amended by adding the following new Section 17.40.065:
17.40.065 Use of lobbyists, polling firms and other public relations firms.
A. Definition. For purposes of this section, “lobbyist” means a person or firm hired for pay or consideration in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000) to communicate, directly or indirectly, with any resident of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County regarding any proposed or pending application to change the zoning of any property. This includes pollsters and public relations firms.
B. Prior to any public hearing before the Metropolitan Council regarding a proposal to amend the official zoning map, the applicant shall file a report with the Metropolitan Clerk and the Metropolitan Planning Department regarding the applicant’s use of lobbyists contracted to communicate with the public regarding the zoning application. Such information shall include:
1. A statement of all compensation received by the lobbyist, or agent of the lobbyist, from the zoning applicant, or the agent of the zoning applicant.
2. A statement of all activities in which the lobbyist, or agent of the lobbyist, engaged on behalf of the applicant for the relevant zoning request. This statement should include, but shall not be limited to:
a. a statement setting forth a list of all live or recorded phone calls made to residents of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County and the number(s) from which the calls were made;
b. a copy of the script or “talking points” for the phone calls identified in subsection (a);
c. a copy of any mail, whether electronic or hard copy, sent to any resident of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County;
d. electronic copies of all video or audio recordings produced by the lobbyist or its agent;
e. any other materials of any sort which were provided to a resident of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County in the course of representing the lobbyist’s client; and
f. a statement of all aliases, false names, and/or e-mail addresses utilized by the lobbyist, employee, or agent of the lobbyist in the course of representing the lobbyist’s client or the agent of the client.
4. A form report for use in complying with the requirements of this subsection shall be prepared by the Metropolitan Clerk. When filed, this report shall be signed by the applicant under the penalty of perjury.
5. Failure to file the report required by this subsection shall result in the automatic deferral of any zoning application scheduled for public hearing until such time as the report is filed with the Metropolitan Clerk.
Section 2. That this Ordinance shall take effect five (5) days from and after its passage and such change be published in a newspaper of general circulation, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.
Sponsored by: Jason Holleman
|Introduced:||June 2, 2009|
|Passed First Reading:||June 2, 2009|
Planning & Zoning Committee
|Deferred Indefinitely:||July 7, 2009|
|Withdrawn:||August 16, 2011|