Better Cell Coverage Coming to Dogwood?

Tuesday ,December 11, 2018 the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) met to discuss three items. The first item, and probably most interesting to many of us that live in the area, was an appeal to allow a cell phone tower on GMSD property (the Dogwood Elementary campus). Below is the detailed description of the proposal from the agenda packet posted on the city’s web page.

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The BZA approved this request and the next step will be for this project to go before the Planning Commission for site plans. Below you can see all the steps that this project will have to clear prior to going to the BMA for final approval.

This is just one example of Germantown’s extensive review process and multiple opportunities for feedback for projects like this.

If you support or have concerns about this project be sure to engage your aldermen and attend one of these meetings. There was only one resident who spoke up tonight. Comments in the meeting indicated that there were three letters for and three letters against this project. After the Planning Commission, the Design Review Commission will review the proposal before forwarding it to the BMA.

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The documents supporting this meeting can be found by clicking here.

The two other items reviewed by the BZA were a project at Houston High School and a resident seeking an appeal for an additional driveway on a corner lot. All three items were approved by the Board.

You can watch the entire meeting below.

BMA in Brief — December 10, 2018

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

No items on the consent agenda were moved to the regular agenda during the Executive Meeting prior to the BMA. For those unfamiliar with the consent agenda, it is a mechanism for approving routine business that doesn’t necessarily need to be addressed individually by the entire board.

Below our summary is a link to a video of the entire BMA meeting for your review. We have provided approximate start times for each item.

  1. Citizens to be Heard (begins at approximately 8:15)
  • Four citizens thanked Alderman Barzizza for his years of service.
  • One citizen expressed concerns about the GPAC Grove costs.

9. Consent Agenda as listed on the agenda was approved. (begins at approximately 16:33)

  1. Contract – GPAC (Germantown Performing Arts Center) Grove Outdoor Venue (begins approximately 17:55)

GPAC Executive Director Paul Chandler gave an extensive presentation explaining the design and purpose of the Grove Outdoor venue. The Grove will be a park-like setting with a casual atmosphere. Mr. Chandler described it as a community gathering place for family and friends and an outdoor reflection of the indoor space.

Additionally, there will be a 32-foot-wide high definition video wall at the back of the stage and will allow a simulcast of events inside the venue and events from across the world. GPAC will be the third venue in the United States with such an arrangement. GPAC has raised $2.5M amount toward the $5M project.

Two GPAC Board members spoke in favor of the project. (Begins approximately 29:50)

Discussion began at approximately 36:58 and the contract was approved by a 4-1 vote.

BMA in Brief – November 26, 2018

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

In the Executive Meeting prior to the BMA, the agenda was amended moving items b.-g. of the consent agenda to the regular agenda. For those unfamiliar with the consent agenda, it is a mechanism for approving routine business that doesn’t necessarily need to be addressed individually by the whole board. Items b.-g. of the consent became items 17-22 of the regular agenda.

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Below our summary is a link to the entire BMA for your review with approximate start times for each item.

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  1. Citizens to be Heard – None
  2. Beer Board (begins at approximately 12:49)

Beer permit for Stacks Pancakes passed 5-0

  1. Public Hearing – Resolution 18R23 – Carrefour at the Gateway Planned Development Outline Plan

Begins at 17:30 of the YouTube video.

No Citizens came forward to speak on this item. Presentations were made by Cameron Ross and Nelson Cannon of Cannon, Austin and Cannon. Cannon, Austin and Cannon is a 30 year old Germantown based development company overseeing the Carrefour redevelopment project. They presented the “Outline Plan” for the project. The project will consist of three phases which will each be approved prior to construction. Discussion was nearly an hour on the this topic.

  • Outline Plan Approved October 2, 1018 at the Planning Commission
  • 400,000 square feet of Office Space
  • 100,000 square feet of Retail
  • 240 hotel rooms
  • 1,400 parking spots (including a garage)
  • Green space in the center

This project has been in the works since 2012. The developer said plans may change based on the regulatory environment at the time the final plans for each phase are presented. They would not speculate on changes due to the moratorium expiring, as they didn’t know what the results would be. Phase one is centered on office and retail space.

Vote was 3-1-1 with Aldermen Gibson, Owens and Janda voting Yes, Alderman Massey voting No and Alderman Barzizza Abstaining.

  1. Approval of Warrant – Carrefour at the Gateway Planned Development – Civic Space (begins approximately 1:28:30)

The proposed green space in the center of this project requires a warrant to make sure that everyone understands their responsibility for maintenance and programming for this space. This private land is not the responsibility of the City.

Vote was 4-0-1 with Aldermen Gibson, Massey, Owens and Janda voting Yes and Alderman Barzizza Abstaining.

  1. Contract – Chlorine Tank Replacement Southern Avenue WTP (beings 1:35:46)

$353,075 replacement of failed water treatment equipment. Vote was 5-0

  1. Contract Extension – Third Party Administrator Services (begins 1:39:24)

$166,656 for the 3rd party administration of the insurance for the city. The city is self insured meaning they cover all of the costs of healthcare for their covered individuals.  The City covers roughly 1,000 employees, retirees and their dependents. This agreement covers the administration of these benefits and provides access to the Cigna network of coverage. The discussion included interesting information on demographics of city employees. Presentation starts around 1:39:30 of the YouTube video. Vote was 5-0.

  1. Renewal – Medical and RX Stop Loss (begins 1:43:28)

$655,317 for the city’s stop loss insurance. This insurance is caps the city’s liability related to being self-insured for health, prescription and dental programs. The presentation calls out the bidding process used for this has saved $500-600k per year since 2012.  Vote was 5-0.

  1. Renewal – Property and Casualty Insurance (begins 1:59:10)

No discussion. Vote was 5-0.

  1. (was b.) Change Order No. 1 – City Signs (begins 2:07:10)

Discussion around soil conditions driving the change orders in items 17-19. Increase of $1,126 or 0.8% of the original total. Vote was 5-0.

  1. (was c.) Change Order No. 1 – GPAC Grove Fire Truck Turnaround and Closeout (begins 2:13:59)

Increase of $11,794 or 17% of the original total. Vote was 5-0.

  1. (was d.) Change Order No. 1 – Greenway Storage – Cameron Brown Park (begins 2:16:58)

Increase of $6,244 or 1.3% of the original total. Vote was 5-0.

  1. (was e.) Change Orders – City Hall Elevator Replacement (begins 2:18:30)

Increase of $9,735 or 3.4% of the original total. Vote was 5-0.

  1. (was f.) Competitive Sealed Proposal Authorization – Investment Services (begins 2:20:10)

City is seeking bids for potential financial firms to manage a portion of reserve funds. Process is exploratory and agreements will require approval. Process is a sealed bid. Vote was 5-0.

  1. (was g.) Contract – Develop Rebranding and Implementation Plan for Germantown Athletic Club (begins 2:25:05)

Germantown Athletic Club will use a vendor, local marketing firm, Red Deluxe, to look at rebranding logos and café space in the building. The goal is to market the club to the community and continue the growth of this amenity. Vote was 5-0.

Santa Comes to Germantown

Even bad weather couldn’t dampen the holiday spirits as the Germantown Annual Holiday Tree lighting moved festivities inside city hall last Friday.

The crowd joined the Germantown Chorus in a sing-along of favorite Christmas Carols while the children visited Santa. It was a lovely start to the Season.

If you missed Santa, he will be at the Train Depot Saturday, December 1 at 1 p.m.

Santa had a great time with the Germantown children.
Beautiful tree in City Hall.

 

 

 

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Girl Scout Troop 13195 lit the Municipal Park tree.

Germantown Volunteers Recognized

On Thursday, November 8, the City of Germantown hosted the annual Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s Commissions Appreciation Dinner at The Great Hall and Conference Center. Hosted by Mayor Mike Palazzolo, the event was also attended by Aldermen Rocky Janda, Mary Anne Gibson, and Forrest Owens, who had to leave early for an event for his daughter. Other officials in attendance were Fire Chief John Selberg and Deputy Chief of Police Rodney Bright. Mayor Palazzolo also recognized former Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy for her mentorship of many of the leaders in Germantown. 

The list volunteers for 2018.

 

This dinner is a celebration of the nearly 200 citizens of Germantown who serve on the boards and commissions of our city. After a great meal catered by Garibaldi’s Pizza and Catering, three special awards were announced.

 

 

 

The first award went to the Reserve Firefighter of the Year. Fire Chief John Selberg presented the award to Mike Letterman. “This is the community I grew up in. It has given so much to me, I just wanted to volunteer to give back,” said Mr. Letterman. “It’s just an honor to get this award.”

 

The second award was the prestigious Jo Reed Award. Sponsored by the Leadership Germantown Alumni Association (LGAA), the Jo Reed Award is presented each year to an individual who represents sincere caring and volunteerism for our community, with no concern for applause or thank you. Jo Reed was a prolific volunteer who lost her life in a tragic accident while in service to the city picking up an illegal yard sale sign on the side of the road.

LGAA president, Natalie Williams presented this year’s award to Elaine Cates. A forty year resident of Germantown, Mrs. Cates is a former teacher and cheer sponsor at Germantown High School, her husband served as city attorney for 27 years and her children grew up here. She currently serves as president of the Germantown Woman’s Club.

“I just have a warm fuzzy feeling about Germantown,” said Mrs. Cates. “It just makes my very, very happy that maybe I did something for Germantown.”

Finally, the Reserve Police Officer of the Year was presented by Deputy Chief of Police Rodney Bright to to Barry Baker. A former employee of Pinnacle Airlines that closed in 2013, he considered the late Phil Trenary a mentor. Trenary was formally president of Pinnacle and was serving as President of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce at the time of his senseless death.

It was Trenary’s emphasis on community service that lead Baker to be involved in public safety. “He encouraged all the senior staff to be a part of the Memphis community and give back,” said Baker. Without his encouragement, he would not have formed the relationships with law enforcement that lead to his involvement with the Germantown Police.

Nearly 200 residents serve on Germantown’s commissions which are involved in every aspect of the community. From beautification to budget approval to historic preservation, there is a commission for every interest and all residents of Germantown are invited to apply. Applications close November 30. Three new commissions will begin in 2019. They are the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, the Public Arts Commission, and the Technology Commission. Apply here.

 

Election Night Reflections

It is election night, midnight on election night to be exact. We have been on the phone, texting and talking to friends trying to figure out what has happened. At this point, it looks like Mike Palazzolo is in the lead but the results are still too close to call in the mayoral race.

As for the alderman races, it looks like Scott Sanders and Mary Anne Gibson have won. School board looks like Betsy Landers will retain her seat and Angela Griffith will fill the seat vacated by Lisa Parker.

So what does this mean? It means that our community is divided. Even if the mayoral results swing, it can’t be assumed that either candidate was elected with mandate.It is incumbent on our next mayor to work to bring this community together. We as a community must work to have civil discussion about the issues we face. Our mayor and aldermen need to help lead that discussion. It is time to stop pointing fingers and playing blame games and time to work on solutions to problems facing our community.

Win or lose, thank the candidates that take the time and effort to run for office. It is a stress on them, their families and friends. This evening is one of highs and lows. For every party, there are friends and families supporting their candidates facing the disappointment of a loss. The sacrifice is real and the heart of our government. We may not all agree on the how we lead Germantown into the future, but we all agree that we want the best for this great city.

Thanks to all those who run, even if we may not always agree on the “how”.

Sneak Peek at Thornwood

IMG_6776.jpgThe Thornwood open house offered a glimpse into the sense of community that a mixed use development can generate. Food trucks and live music added to the festive atmosphere as curious residents and potential tenants toured the model units open to the community.

IMG_6762.jpgThere were four apartments open for viewing in the “Residence” building. The model floor plans included two each of their one bedroom and two bedroom units. The building is still very much under construction and scheduled to be completed in March from what one volunteer told me. While the demo units had flooring installed, the main hallways were still under construction and likely will not have their final touches until all the units are complete.

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The finishes were high end with solid surface counters, stainless steel appliances and walk in showers. Each unit had an open floor plan with clear views between the kitchen and living areas. All of the units featured laundry, the larger units had full size washer and dryers. One of the two bedroom units features a “sun room”, a great place for avid readers to relax with some natural light.

The units in the “Market Row Lofts” were larger and had higher end finishes. These units were not quite finished, lacking counter tops and sinks but you could tell the cabinets and fixtures in place were even higher than those of the “Residence.” The large windows brought in lots of natural light. My wife and I were amazed at how quiet the units were given the traffic right outside the windows. There were two units open for inspection. These units are directly above the retail space on Neshoba and Germantown Road.

IMG_6773.jpgThe “Loft” units included two bedrooms and laundry rooms. One had an office space off the entry. Both featured large closets and good storage space.

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It will be nice to see when these units are complete with all their finishes. We met a couple touring the facility that plans to move into the residence in March. They have a unit reserved on the 4th floor which should offer great views of the area.  They will have the convenience of this prime location. They are walking distance to GPAC (and the new Grove), GAC and all the great programming that goes on in Municipal Park.  This retired couple is looking forward to the convenience offered by the combination of uses and location of Thornwood.

WheIMG_6778.jpgn you are in the middle of this development you don’t feel like A major high way is on the other side of the buildings. This is an exciting addition to our community.  I hope we see some good programming that makes use of the green space in the middle of this area. While it is not huge (.34 acres), it is a great spot for some more intimate performances.

The added benefit to our community comes in the form of tax dollars. This commercial real estate is tax at a 40% assessment vs. the 25% assessment on residential. All totaled the estimated revenues from this 12 acres of land (or 0.002% of the total area of Germantown) are projected at $1.5m annually. For perspective, that’s enough to service the debt on our new school every year, buy a new fire truck or pave 3-4 miles of roads.

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