Register to Vote! DEADLINE March 12

The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming Spring Hill city election is Tuesday, March 12.  If you’re not registered, it takes less than 5 minutes to ensure that your voice and vote count on April 11 when we vote for mayor and aldermen.

Just to make it easy, there’s an official Tennessee Voter Registration Application attached to this post: Download Voter Application.  Simply print it off and make sure it’s postmarked by MARCH 12.

Did you know that in some years only 1,000 votes have been needed to WIN an election in Spring Hill?  If ever there was an election where your voice mattered — and made a difference to your quality of life — the city election is it.  Over the past two years as you’ve spoken out on a variety of issues from Wal-Mart to walking paths, crematory to Copperstone, it’s become clear that elected officials have an enormous shaping influence on the quality and condition of life in Spring Hill.

So take a moment and register; print an extra copy and ask your neighbors if they’ve registered.  But do it today, and we hope you’ll join us in voting on April 11 for a better Spring Hill.

(If you need more information about the election, visit http://www.springhilltn.org/index.aspx?nid=450 ).

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Can you give this to your friends & neighbors?

We’ve been hearing from many of you who are fired up about Resolution 12-81 and want to support aldermen in reaffirming their NO vote against the crematory.  Many of you have been asking for copies of flyers to print and pass to friends, neighbors and co-workers.  Click this link to download a PDF copy of our latest flyer that should be easily printable on your home computer.
We can’t state how important Monday’s vote is.  If BOMA fails to pass Resolution 12-81, it will be tantamount to saying that they’re backing down from their November decision against the crematory and handing power in Spring Hill to the mayor’s appointed people.
We can’t let that happen, and there are three things you can do:
  1. WRITE an email to your aldermen voicing your support for Resolution 12-81 (their addresses are available on our website.)
  2. PRINT the attached flyer and encourage your friends and neighbors to attend the BOMA meeting Monday night.
  3. SHOW up Monday, 7:00 p.m. at City Hall for the BOMA meeting.  Your presence for even 20 minutes speaks volumes!
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Email our Aldermen!

What’s the best way to support our aldermen in the latest push to stop the crematory? Take just five minutes and email our aldermen to voice your support for resolution 12-81 “affirming the action taken by the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen to deny a Preliminary Development Plan for a crematory.”

It’s crucial that our aldermen hear loud and clear that they have the support of Spring Hill citizens. You’ll find the email addresses of our aldermen on the right side of this page.

Every email counts, don’t delay!

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Monday 8/13/12 is Crucial

Monday is crucial for the future of Spring Hill.  

That’s when BOMA will begin discussing a resolution that puts power in this town back into the hands of elected officials, and puts appointed boards on notice that they can’t do whatever they please.  You’ll remember that in November 2011 our elected officials voted 8-1 to reject the proposal of crematory on the property of Spring Hill Memorial Park.  But, the mayor-appointed Planning Commission ignored that decision and granted the go-ahead for a building permit this past month.

THIS MONDAY, our elected aldermen will consider a resolution to reaffirm their November 2011 ruling, deny the preliminary development plan for the crematory, and rule that the Planning Commission overstepped the bounds of its power.  

Our aldermen need our support if they’re going to do the right thing, because they’re being threatened.  There are forces at work telling them to keep quiet and ignore the decision they made in November 2011. There are forces at work telling them to let mayoral-appointed Boards run this town.  It’s been reported that the funeral home is employing scare tactics and intimidation against Spring Hill Aldermen, threatening libel lawsuits individually against those who support this resolution.  This might seem unbelievable, until you remember this is the same “family owned” funeral business whose Williamson County branch was fined for soliciting customers at a hospital Intensive Care Unit in June.

This Monday, and next, we must stand up against a business that believes it can bully citizens and elected officials into doing its bidding, through threats, back room deals, and supposed zoning loopholes.

This Monday, and next, we must stand up against “good old boy” politics and the theft of power from elected officials.  Mayor Michael Diwnwiddie remains the ONLY elected official in Spring Hill to have cast a vote in favor of the crematory, yet boards and commissions stacked with his political cronies have thumbed their noses at the decisions of those we’ve elected to represent us and ramrodded the crematory through.

This Monday, it’s time to stand with our Aldermen and say, “No more!”  Please join us THIS MONDAY, AUGUST 13 at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall for the BoMA work session, and again, Monday, August 20 at 7p.m. for the voting session.  
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Crematory before Planning Commission 7/2/12

Friends,

Here’s the shocker about the latest crematory proposal:  They’re modifying the existing development, it’s part of the PUD, and it must go before BoMA.  Now, from news reports, one would think that the Spring Hill Memorial Park has found a crafty loophole to the BoMA’s denial of a crematory by proposing a revised plan in a section of property not governed by the Planned Unit Development (PUD).  If it’s not under the PUD, it doesn’t have to be approved by BoMA.  However, this supposed loophole isn’t a loophole at all, but a flat out misread of zoning provisions — a misread that puts the City in legal jeopardy.  The newly proposed crematory may physically sit in an area zoned straight B4, but it’s also in a parking lot that was developed and IS controlled under the PUD master plan.  Cutting that southern parking lot out of the PUD, or building a 2,090 sq. ft. building in it, constitutes a change that must go before BoMA.  We’ve even attached a short summary showing exactly why this is the case (download “Inevitable PUD Modification”).

Yet, tonight the Spring Hill Planning Commission is set to move closer to unilateral approval of this facility. That’s a move that we and our lawyers believe is flat out wrong, and simply illegal.  If the Spring Hill Planning Commission doesn’t send the proposal before BoMA as a change to an existing PUD-controlled development, then we’ll have no other option than to take legal action to defend the procedures outlined by Spring Hill Zoning Ordinance.  That’s an unfortunate route we hope to avoid, but the decision to follow the Zoning Ordinance or ignore it is in the hands of Mayor Dinwiddie’s Planning Commission tonight and next Monday.

Will you attend TONIGHT or next Monday at 5:30 p.m. and urge the Planning Commission to do the right thing?  We already know that this facility poses a health hazard to the community.  We already know it doesn’t fit with the City’s own comprehensive land use plan for a downtown district.  But now it’s increasingly clear that this is a plan that the Planning Commission doesn’t really have jurisdiction over.

We don’t have prepared speakers and speeches tonight since we’re investing our resources in other parts of this fight,  but we need average citizens like YOU to attend and speak out about the circus that the crematory issue has become.  The BoZA already ignored the decision of the BoMA concerning a crematory, and now the Planning Commission is set to ignore the authority of BoMA all together.  We hope you’ll attend tonight’s work session or next Monday’s voting session and speak out.

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UPDATED: Crematory Proposed Again! BoZA hearing May 31, 2012

Update: The date of the BoZA meeting has been changed to Thursday, May 31.  The Spring Hill Memorial Park has once again brought a proposal to the City for a crematory.  When we read the proposal to be heard before the Board of Zoning Appeals Thursday, May 31 @ 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 @ 5:30 p.m. we hoped that it would be different.  We hoped that the Spring Hill Memorial Park had addressed the visible emissions, odor and dangerous mercury vapor that will issue unabated from the crematory smokestack.  But they have not.  Instead, they’ve merely moved the crematory a short distance into another section of the property.  It’s the exact same plan they proposed a year ago.  It’s the same design that BoMA denied by an 8-to-1 vote:

It will still release visible emissions when the crematory’s “second combustion chamber” is unable to handle the load.  There are NO filters.
It will still emit odor at times, because there are NO filters.
It will still emit toxic mercury and an array of harmful chemicals, because there are NO filters.

As residents of Spring Hill who value the character, livability, and safety of our city, we must stand up again for the protection and betterment of Spring Hill, its families, and our children. We do not stand against a crematory or against Spring Hill Memorial Park.

We stand for businesses that take the proper safeguards.
We stand for protecting the character of our neighborhoods.
We stand for development that protects the safety of our children.
We stand for the betterment of Spring Hill.

Despite the fact that filtration systems exist that would alleviate the many problems with the crematory proposal — a resolution that Citizens for a Better Spring Hill has proposed numerous times — the Spring Hill Memorial Park has once again put forth a proposal that will harm its neighbors, the aesthetics of the the Highway 31 corridor, and release a dangerous neurotoxin in harmful quantities. The Spring Hill Memorial Park continues to argue that a crematory is an “allowable use,” but the Zoning Ordinance is clear that harming the health and quality of life of Spring Hill residents is not.

Will you join us in standing up once again for a better Spring Hill Thursday, May 31, 2012?  next Tuesday, May 22, 2012?  This hearing isn’t just about a crematory; rather, it’s about whether the people of Spring Hill will stand up to any development that threatens the quality and safety of our community.  

Citizens for a Better Spring Hill is readying evidence and testimony to be presented before the Board of Zoning Appeals next Tuesday, May 22 Thursday, May 31 @ 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. We hope that you will show your support for a better Spring Hill by attending this meeting with your family, friends, children and neighbors. The agenda is short — just two items — but the stakes for a better Spring Hill have never been higher.

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Safe Routes to School & Peter Jenkins Walking Trail

The City of Spring Hill has an opportunity to receive a Safe Routes to School Grant for the Longview Walking Trail Connection project and is undertaking a fundraising project to build a connection from the existing Peter Jenkins Walking Trail to Allendale Elementary School, with the goal of raising $50,000 by July 1st to complete the connection prior to the first day of school in August.

Not familiar with the grant/program and not sure why you should care?  These proposed walking routes and trails would allow kids in Spring Hill to walk safely to and from school without risk of being hit by a car!  Please stand up and endorse the extension of the Peter Jenkins walking trail and help Spring Hill acquire a grant to ensure the safety of children.  These are two different issues:

The Safe Routes to School grant comes from the State and will gradually help Spring Hill become a place where any child can safely walk to and from school.

 The Peter Jenkins Trail runs through the Wyngate subdivision and, if properly funded and given community support, will connect to the sidewalk that leads to Allendale Elementary.

Both are worth endorsing and making a fuss about.

The City of Spring Hill will commit to 40% of the project cost, up to $20,000, if Spring Hill residents can raise the remaining 60% ($30,000) by July 1st.

Please consider helping in the following ways:

1) Provide a Support Letter for the SRTS Grant – a Sample Grant Support Letter is provided to use as a start, but please take a moment to add a personal perspective from the benefits of this trail. Please email these letters to Alderman Jonathan Duda ASAP. (SafeRoutesMap)

2) Consider approaching individuals or organizations to help reach the goal of raising $50,000 by July 1st for the Allendale walking trail connection.  Donations can be received via Paypal at www.OutdoorEncounter.org -click on Peter Jenkins Trail, and sponsorships are also available: Sponsorship Options & Form Peter Jenkins Walking Trail Connection to Allendale 03-2012. (Peter Jenkins Walking Trail Project Proposal,  Peter Jenkins Walking Trail Resolution)

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A Better Spring Hill . . .

Tonight, our city is a better Spring Hill. In a stunning and important victory, the proposed Spring Hill Memorial Park crematorium was DEFEATED tonight in an 8-1 vote. The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen resoundingly rejected the crematorium, and any future attempts to build a crematory will require the funeral home to resubmit the proposal or to take legal action. For now, the crematory proposal is dead, and Mayor Dinwiddie stands alone as the sole supporter of a resolution that would have allowed toxic emissions just 300ft. from residential neighborhoods.

Thank you for standing up these past six months for what’s right — and for a better Spring Hill. You sacrificed time and effort to stand up for your neighbors, and to ensure that Spring Hill is a city safe for all its citizens. Many of you took time to support friends even though your neighborhood wasn’t directly affected. Others of you gathered signatures, handed out flyers, and made phone calls. Still others boldly wore green, spoke up at city meetings, and braved hours-long Planning Commission and BoMA meetings to ensure your voice was heard. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Spring Hill is a better place, not because of a vote, but because YOU came together. In the past six months a loosely collected city of neighborhoods and subdivisions truly became a community together. We became a better Spring Hill. Where the Spring Hill of the past was divided between Maury and Williamson, or between one subdivision and another, during the past six months we’ve learned to speak out together — to protect one another — and to build a better community together. We’ve spoken out about a toxic crematory. We’ve spoken out together about traffic concerns. We’ve spoken out about water quality. We’ve spoken out together about a problematic apartment complex. We’ve spoken out together in support of expanded walking trails. And along the way we’ve shown that we have a better future together.

The future is bright —and we’re not done becoming a better Spring Hill together. Be assured that Citizens for a Better Spring Hill will continue to unite people for the health, safety and further development of the residents and businesses of Spring Hill. There’s much more to be done to ensure that our community — your community — continues to be one of the best places to live in the United States. In the months ahead we’ll invite you to be part of a group of “watchdogs” monitoring the government of Spring Hill. And we’ll keep you abreast of important issues that affect residents across Spring Hill.

Spring Hill has found its voice. You’re that voice. And we know you’ll keep speaking up for a better Spring Hill.

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BoMA Work Session on Crematory Tonight 11/14/11

Tonight, November 14, at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall, BoMA will discuss the latest EnSafe report on the proposed crematory.  We’ve been telling the City for six months that this crematory will emit mercury at levels that could be harmful, and now the EnSafe report reveals that mercury concentration could at times reach beyond “safe” levels.

Will you be there tonight at 7:00 p.m. to, one again, voice your opposition to a crematory that will endanger the health and livability of Spring Hill?  What’s been revealed over the past several months is shocking:  While the City was told that the crematory would release no visible emissions, EnSafe and others confirm that “steam” or other visible emissions will occur at certain times.  Further, while the City was told that there would be no odor, the president of the crematory manufacturing company was forced to reveal that there will at times be odor coming from the crematory.  And now, it has been confirmed that airborne mercury released from the facility can at times reach levels considered hazardous.

In addition to tonight’s “work session” meeting, BoMA will take a vote on the proposed crematory next Monday, November 21 at 7p.m.  We hope you’ll join us either this Monday or next Monday as this important issue comes before our city leaders again.

Copperstone Update:  Also, tonight at 5:30 p.m. the Planning Commission will be voting on a proposal for Copperstone East “condominiums.”  You’ll remember that BoMA turned down a proposal for apartments, but now the developer is back before the Planning Commission trying to do an end-run on BoMA by calling the exact same plan “condominiums” and attempting to sneak  a proposal through the Planning Commission that won’t have to go to BoMA.  Please come and express your disgust and tell the Planning Commission to vote “NO” on a plan that our elected leaders have already rejected – tonight at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.

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New EnSafe Data Reveals Health Hazard from Proposed Crematory

The data from the new EnSafe report makes it clear:  During cremations of bodies with numerous fillings, mercury concentration will rise above safe levels in areas surrounding the proposed crematory. (You can download the entire EnSafe November 2011 Report here.) Despite the report’s stated conclusion that “the risk of adverse public health impacts” is low, examining the data from a new EnSafe report commissioned by the City clearly shows specific instances when mercury concentrations will be far higher than levels considered safe.

According to EnSafe’s own report, mercury concentrations could reach a staggering 283% and as much as 367% of safe levels in some locations under the right circumstances.  While cremations containing 3 or fewer mercury amalgam fillings will produce mercury concentrations generally considered low and relatively safe, that’s not the case for cremations containing larger numbers of mercury fillings.  The highest levels in the report would be reached in situations where the body contained the equivalent of 17 mercury amalgam fillings.

However, the data in the report reveals that in some areas safe levels could be exceeded by cremations with as few as 4.7 mercury amalgam fillings.  We asked the question, “If it takes 17 mercury fillings to reach a whopping 367% of safe levels, how many fewer mercury fillings would it take to just exceed safe levels?”  The data to produce such calculations is available in the EnSafe report, and reveals the following:

  • Every time a single body with 12.7 or more fillings is cremated, Mercury concentration in the Witt Hill neighborhood will rise above the 1-hour acute reference exposure level — that’s the level below which immediate adverse health effects are not expected to occur for adult humans.  Just one cremation with 12.7 fillings exceeds that safe level.
  • Every time there are three cremations in any 8-hour period, and those bodies contain an average of 4.7 mercury fillings each,  levels in EnSafe’s “entire modeling domain” will rise above the 8-hour acute reference exposure level and could produce immediate health effects for adult humans in the vicinity.
  • Every time three cremations occur in any 8-hour period that contain an average of 6.2 or more fillings per body, levels in the Witt Hill neighborhood will rise above 8-hour acute reference exposure or “safe levels” and should be expected to produce immediate health impacts for people who live there.
  • Every time three cremations happen in any 8-hour period that contain an average of 8.1 fillings or more per body, levels at the First Baptist Church will rise above the 8-hour acute reference exposure or “safe levels” and adverse health effects should be expected for people exposed.

We’re the first to admit that these scenarios will probably not happen every day.  But they WILL happen, the question is merely HOW OFTEN?  At first, we should expect that such scenarios might only happen a few times a year — that’s still enough to produce adverse health effects.  But as the cremation rate rises and business grows, the frequency at which the crematory will produce dangerous levels of mercury will grow.

And here’s the kicker: The safe level for children is likely far lower.  The exposure levels above are for healthy adults, the actual levels of mercury concentration needed to affect children or other sensitive populations is conceivably far smaller (EnSafe documents this reality, see pg. 18 of the study).

Oh, and if that’s not enough, EnSafe has this to say about the short-term reference levels used in their calculations, “Mercury accumulates in the body, so short-term repeated exposures could result in toxic effects that are unanticipated by the OEHHA short-term REL which could result in an understatement of risks” (pg. 18).  Let me translate:  Continual low-dose exposure to mercury might produce health effects even if the short-term “safe level” is never exceeded.  

Is this crematory safe?  Sure, some of the time.  But as Citizens for a Better Spring Hill has stated since June, there are circumstances under which it’s not safe, and sensitive populations for whom it’s rarely safe.  Our position has been the same, and the EnSafe report validates our concerns.

We hope you’ll join us THIS MONDAY, 7:00 p.m. at City Hall for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session.  We have the evidence. It’s now confirmed that this proposed crematory is a danger to citizens of Spring Hill.  Join us as we request that BOMA either requires mercury filtration or else rejects the proposal outright.

 

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