The Sumner County Commission approved at its June 29 meeting a zoning change that could cost Portland an estimated $40,000 annually.

By an 18-5 vote, commissioners passed changes to the county’s zoning resolution that remove the planning regions from the respective jurisdictions of Portland, Gallatin and Hendersonville.

Motions to defer and to refer the new rules back to committee both failed prior to the final vote.

Instead of falling under city zoning rules, those areas will now fall under the jurisdiction of Sumner County regulations.

“Portland has the largest planning region of any city in Sumner County,” said commissioner Billy Geminden at the meeting. “If you have property in that planning region and don’t have property inside the city, those planners can tell you what you can or can’t do with your property, and you can’t vote for any of them.”

Portland City Planner Richard Donovan said that the planning region currently provided around a third of the permit revenue the city sees annually, equating to approximately $40,000.

“Portland had extra zoning jurisdiction inside our planning region,” Donovan said. “The way state law words, there’s been a caveat where cities can zone outside their municipal boundaries as long as counties don’t enforce their own zoning there.”

Donovan said that the county had been working on new zoning resolutions and a new zoning map for Sumner County.

“It wasn’t just unique for Portland, but they also zoned the planning regions for the different municipalities,” Donovan added.

Donovan said that the Portland City Council had already counted on the loss of income in passing the city’s 2020-21 budget.

Donovan added that the city’s biggest concern was that it was possible now for areas under Portland’s jurisdiction to not match the same building codes that the city enforces. Stormwater regulations are another area that could see conflict between city and county rules in the future.

“We did raise concerns in a meeting with the county executive and the representatives for Portland,” Donovan said. “From our standpoint, eventually the people in the planning region are going to want to come into the city. But they’re not going to be built to the same code we require.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or

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