Turns out, the early news reports were wrong. The Rutherford County, Tennessee Planning Commission voted 8-7 to deny a rezoning request to allow the development of Bible Park USA. They were likely responding to local pressure from residents concerned about traffic, light, and noise. For example:
County Commissioner Steve Sandlin moved to deny the park.
Sandlin based his motion on lack of TDOT approval of the access road, bridge and tunnel; a belief that the park does not conform with the Blackman Land Use Plan; and most importantly, because the park would affect the character of the neighborhood in a negative way.
His last point was the park is at odds with the regulations for a Conditional Use Permit, which requires developments to not have a substantial effect on the value of the neighboring buildings or have a negative effect on the basic character of the neighborhood.
Fine by me. They might want to consider, as well, though, the legal costs that they're going to face, without a doubt, if they go ahead with this obvious violation of the First Amendment. Is that a good use of tax dollars?
The next step: The zoning plan will go before the Rutherford County Commission, which has final say in the zoning, on May 15.
The real First Amendment problems arise from the tax dollars that will be used to build this humiliating abomination.
In a separate process, the park's developers are seeking $27.9 million in property tax revenues in tax-increment financing (TIF) from an area around the park.
Under the TIF, the local government would authorize the sale of bonds to help pay for the park. The increased property tax revenues generated because of the value of the land of the Bible Park USA and inside an impact zone around the park would go toward the park's debt.
That financing plan is set to go before the Rutherford County Budget Committee on May 8, and will likely be considered by the Rutherford County Commission on May 15.
The developers are also likely to seek a second TIF, which would capture some sales tax from the area as well as a luxury tax on sales in the park to help pay for the development. No proposal on that TIF has been submitted to the county yet.
And, of course, in 2006, the county was successfully sued by the ACLU for posting the Ten Commandments in the Rutherford County Courthouse as part of a historical display, and made to pay legal fees of $50,000.
Contact decision-makers here. No Pagans at all in Tennessee to stand up against this nonsense?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."