After months of public debate and voting delays, the Memphis City Council on Tuesday approved Memphis 3.0 – the city’s first comprehensive land use and development plan in several decades.
Final approval of Memphis 3.0 didn’t come without hesitation and was one of two key decisions the council made at the second-to-last meeting of the year. A vote to increase the solid waste fee was voted down in the third and final reading.
Some council members, still posing questions about the 400-page Memphis 3.0 plan, wanted to delay the vote until the next council meeting. District 7 Councilman Berlin Boyd initiated the motion to delay, suggesting that the council wait until the city attorney, Allan Wade, was present.
Boyd said he’d recently learned that the council had no statutory obligation to vote on the plan since the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board had already approved it.
City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen confirmed Boyd’s assertion, adding that there was never “any intent to make anybody believe that they had to do anything.”
The plan has been controversial since it was first introduced. Dr. Carnita Atwater, who heads the New Chicago Community Development Corporation, challenged the document in court by filing a lawsuit claiming racial biases.
Resident concerns prompted the council to delay voting since the spring. In September, an outside consultant was brought in to access the plan. This came months after Mayor Jim Strickland signed an executive order that implemented the controversial plan on the administrative side back in May.
On Tuesday, Council members in favor of voting on the plan said they’d delayed the process long enough, noting that components of it could be changed even after approval.
“There will be issues and we will take them out,” council member, Reid Hedgepeth said.
Council members who voted against Memphis 3.0 were Joe Brown, Worth Morgan, Martavious Jones, Jamita Swearengen, Cheyenne Johnson and Berlin Boyd.
In favor of the plan were Frank Colvett Jr, Gerre Currie, Kemp Conrad, Patrice Robinson, Sherman Greer, J. Ford Canale and Hedgepeth.
Under the proposal to hike the solid waste fee, monthly residential waste fees would have increased from $22.80 to $29.96. The increase would have cost residents at least $86 more a year. Senior citizens would have experienced no change to their fees.
In two weeks, Council members will have to decide if they will approve an increase on MLGW electric, gas, and water utility rate hikes. They are expected to vote Dec. 17.