From NiMby (Not in MY back yard) to NImby (Nashville IS my back yard)
My name is Mina Johnson, and I would like to represent District 23 on the Metro Council. A few short years after moving to Nashville, I moved into the West Meade neighborhood. I have called this neighborhood home for close to 15 years. Like so many of my neighbors in West Meade, as well as the other neighborhoods of District 23 and across the city of Nashville, I love all that our city has to offer. I want to protect the traditions, while allowing smart growth, for the future generations of Nashvillians
Soon after moving to West Meade, I began to serve this community. I started assisting with the implementation of our neighborhood’s listserv, then as treasurer of the neighborhood association. After several years of service on the neighborhood association board, I remained an active member of the association and community.
As the West Meade area continued to grow, developers proposed projects that were not in keeping with the charm and character of the neighborhood. As I learned about these projects, I began an effort to inform my neighbors. Working with a group of concerned citizens, we organized a task force - hosting community meetings to share information about these plans with our neighbors and to negotiate with the developers for a mutually agreeable plan. The first proposed development was for multi-family housing. We attempted to work with the developer regarding the number and design of the houses. Unfortunately, we were unable to come to a consensus, and ultimately the proposal was withdrawn. The next proposal was for an assisted living facility; once again we worked closely with the developer to create a win-win plan. Our talks went well, and we thought we had reached a mutually acceptable conclusion. However, in the end, the developer refused to sign the agreement, and the proposal was defeated.
Even with all of our efforts to work with developers, when these projects were defeated, we were labeled as NiMby (Not in My back yard). On the other hand, when Harding Academy proposed an athletic field development, the neighborhood task force was able to successfully negotiate an acceptable plan. Our neighborhood, plus three surrounding neighborhood associations, signed a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Harding Academy. When Harding Academy requested a variance before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), the neighborhoods showed up to fully support their request. This success, as well as the important work of our previous projects, convinced me that by participating in discussions with developers and trying to come to a negotiated agreement, it was possible to have successful development for all parties. Now, my thoughts were beginning to focus on the bigger picture – the process.
At this point I realized the importance of the Community Plan and the Planning Department processes, so I began regularly attending planning meetings and paying close attention to what was going on, not only in West Meade, but across District 23 and across Nashville. Through this involvement, I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with neighborhood leaders across the city, Metro Council members, and members of our development community. Over the years, I have worked on many projects ranging from saving the West Meade waterfall and protecting Bell’s Bend by preventing May Town Center development to preventing the Construction and Demolition (C&D) Landfill adjacent to West Meade and preventing LED signage expanding within residentially zoned areas. I have also served on the Mayor’s Citizens Advisory Committee for AMP and currently serve on the Nashville Next Community Engagement Committee. I have come to realize that we are all in this together, and found a new NImby - Nashville IS my back yard.
I feel that we are so fortunate to live in a city filled with natural beauty, but one that also offers many urban conveniences. It is my love of this city that makes me want to give back by serving the residents of District 23 as your next Metro Council member. I want to bring the knowledge I have gained during nearly 15 years of community involvement to the Council chambers to conserve and preserve our natural resources, guide smart development policies and continue to focus on public safety in our district and across our city.
Nashville is not only my backyard, but all of ours. Together, we can continue to make Nashville a place that we are all proud to call home. I would be honored to serve as your representative, and I would appreciate your vote for Mina Johnson for Metro Council.