After much delay and despite opposition, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland signed an executive order Tuesday adopting the Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive plan.
The Memphis City Council has delayed approving the plan for weeks, as opposition rose from one North Memphis neighborhood group.That group, led by Carnita Atwater, president of the New Chicago Community Development Corporation, filed a lawsuit last week, delaying the council’s vote again.
The lawsuit claims that the plan violates some residents’ constitutional rights and that it’s not inclusive. Strickland said Tuesday that he does not know if the city has submitted a response to the lawsuit.
Despite the pending litigation, Strickland moved forward with adopting the plan Tuesday morning, signing the executive order at The Works Community Development Corp. headquarters in South Memphis. He said that the adoption of Memphis 3.0 is “way past due,” as the city has not had a comprehensive plan in nearly 40 years.
“Memphis 3.0 will provide a much-needed road map for our growth,” Strickland said. “As we have seen for far too long, growth without a plan creates urban sprawl, a lack of cohesive land use, and puts tremendous strain on limited infrastructure. With this plan, we will move forward with a collective voice on how we want our city to look years into the future.”
Strickland said Tuesday’s move “cements that Memphis 3.0 will be used in every agency and every division of government” except land use. The Memphis City Council must approve the plan in order for it to impact land use.
“This order doesn’t override the council’s authority,” Strickland said. “This order only applies to the administration side. The council still controls land use and we ask them to approve it.”
The mayor said he anticipates the city council approving the plan.
“The economic renaissance that we see in Memphis in many neighborhoods is not being felt in every neighborhood,” Strickland said. “This plan is a roadmap for growth and investment in all neighborhoods throughout the city and that’s why it needs to be celebrated.
“We have not had a comprehensive plan since 1981,” Austin said. “What that speaks to is a continuation of four decades of urban sprawl and white flight. I understand the experiences of many people that are opposed to the adoption of the plan.
“There’s truth to that. There is federal policy and local policy that has devastated African-American communities … This is not that. The comprehensive plan helps to guide our future in Memphis and make real investments back into very distressed neighborhoods.”
Meanwhile, outside of the building Atwater and about five other protesters rallied against the plan, holding signs that read “Just say no to 3.0” and shouting “No justice, no peace.”
“No matter what he signed today, you still have a $10 billion lawsuit,” Atwater said. “The lawsuit isn’t going anywhere.”
When asked what he thought about the protesters outside, Strickland said he’s glad “they are exercising their right to protest.”