Nashville’s city council is hoping to limit the damage of future flooding along the banks of the Cumberland River. If finalized this week, the city will strengthen a rule that prevents new homes from being constructed within 50 feet of the Cumberland.
In the past, some waivers were granted to builders within what’s known as the “no-disturb” buffer zone.
But Councilman Jeff Syracuse has led the push to end such exceptions. His district includes Pennington Bend, where some have petitioned the city for permission to build within the buffer.
“It’s considered a no-disturb zone for a reason,” he told the council this month. “We don’t need to be putting density in an area that is designated a no-disturb zone.”
The new wording makes clear that the Stormwater Management Committee cannot allow new residential building within the buffer.
If the committee did so, Syracuse said, there’s a risk.
“The blood is going to be on our hands,” he said. “That is going to cause the amount of damage — billions of dollars of damage — that we went through the last time we had a major flood.”
The councilman said he’s aware of property owners who want to build, but that he felt compelled to take a long-term, “holistic” view for community safety.
Metro Water Services also supports the stricter policy. Spokeswoman Sonia Harvat told WPLN that the riverbank buffer protects water quality, prevents erosion and limits damage during inevitable flooding.
“If we are to become a more resilient community and be better prepared for the next major flood event we need to protect these buffers,” Harvat wrote in an email.