Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NewsChannel5 Investigates How A Neighborhood Became A Dump

By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Developers promised something different. Residents thought they were getting a development that included buildings and a green area. Instead, they now live beside a dump.
"It's supposed to be a greenway, a little pond and trees and benches to sit on," said James Mullins.
He and others near the Antioch community feel deceived by what is on the 44 acre tract of land beside Mullins' home.
There are huge mounds of concrete and gravel.
Neighbors claim property owners are gaming the system.
"This is unacceptable," said Metro Councilwoman Karen Y. Johnson.
Johnson says she attended a public meeting last year in which developers promised to build homes, industrial properties and a green area with a pond.
"There was no talk in the meeting about the operation that is occurring there today," Johnson said as she looked over the site.
She was shocked when we showed her a website advertising a recycling facility and dump site on the property.
"This is new and was not the intended use for the entire parcel," Johnson said.
The property is part of a family trust.
Metro has fined the owners twice in the last three years for "failing to follow approved plans," including a stop work order in 2009.
Just this summer, Metro fined owners for building a 30,000 square foot concrete slab that was not approved.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "When does your patience run out?"
Sonia Harvat with Metro Water, which oversees the grading permit on the property, "Unfortunately we aren't allowed to run out of patience."
Harvat says to just shut down the operation wouldn't serve anyone.
"As long as some progress is being made, they are allowed to do business, and we have to allow them to do their business," Harvat said.
The owners claim they are leveling out the property, so they can eventually build on it.
Complicating matters, last year, the Metro Planning Commission approved a "temporary" "processing facility" for the site.
Now tanker trucks can legally dump things like drilling fluid on the site.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked a spokesman for the owners when the recycling and dumping will stop on the property.
Roy Dale responded, "I don't know that I can answer that question."
Dale is the engineer and represents the owners in front of Metro Boards.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Do the owners have a clear vision for what is going to be here?"
Dale responded, "I think yes. At the end of the day it's going be a commercial industrial site no doubt about it."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Do they have a clear vision on a timetable?"
Dale responded, "Probably not."
He admits the recycling facility is the main focus on the property right now, but insists he is trying to get the owners to start building what they originally promised soon.
"I think that's something they should do. And I think it's something that ya'll have probably helped to happen, and I think that's a good thing," Dale said.
Karen Johnson says the Metro Council never meant to authorize a business like this on the property, and questions why the planning department allowed the "temporary" processing facility.
"I think people have been deceived," Johnson said.
James Mullins doubts the owners really want to build anything.
"How do you get away with that? I mean what is it," Mullins asked.
Metro says the property is permitted for industrial activity.
But Metro has asked the owners for new plans for the site. So far those updated plans have not been approved.
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