The Metro Council may try to intervene in the seizure of a Music Row business owner's property, under a bill now being readied for debate.
The council's attorney has been asked to draw up a measure that would stop eminent domain proceedings against Joy Ford, the owner of a small record label and music publishing business at 23 Music Circle E.
The measure is being discussed as two council members, Michael Craddock and Jim Gotto, lobby colleagues to step in on Ford's behalf.
Last month, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, the city's chief redevelopment agency, started proceedings against Ford in a Nashville court, arguing that her building can be considered blighted because it lies within a redevelopment zone.
"It's the wrong thing to do," Craddock said of the eminent domain request. "You don't even have to search your conscience on this one."
A possible Metro bill would thrust the council into the debate over what to do with one of the last properties yet to be rebuilt within a redevelopment zone created a decade ago to spark urban renewal on the northern end of Music Row.
Ford has turned down offers from six firms to buy her property, which is home to her music business, Country International Records. She and her husband started the company in the early 1980s.
Earlier this year, she rejected an offer of $900,000 from MDHA to buy the site.
A blight characterization gives the city the power to seize Ford's building and transfer it to a developer, Houston-based Lionstone Group, that plans a pair of commercial and residential towers there.
Because the city charter gives MDHA the power to start eminent domain proceedings on its own, eliminating the district itself is the only way some Metro Council members think they could stop the agency, said Craddock and two other council members who have considered the matter.
"I'd feel a little different about this if it had to come to the Metro Council," Craddock said. "But we've got a board that doesn't answer to anyone."Some would oppose bill
Support for the proposal is far from unanimous among council members, however.
Some council members contacted Tuesday said they would have to see the bill before they could say whether they would vote for it. Meanwhile, one member, Metro Councilman Rip Ryman of Goodlettsville, said he would oppose it.
Ryman said the council shouldn't be involved in eminent domain debates. He said the practice of eminent domain is "there for a purpose," and the council shouldn't tie MDHA's hands. "I think they've been more than fair with that lady out there," Ryman said. "They offered her a pretty good proposal."
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