Amanda Rhinehart, the new Forest Hills City Manager who started May 1, knew before she finished college that she wanted to work with citizens in public service, but her career path had a few unusual turns before she landed here.
“I switched my major from political science to public affairs because I saw public affairs as a more direct way to inter-act with the community via public service,” Amanda said. “I minored in legal studies, with the intent to practice municipal law.”
She had started taking college classes at the University of California, Riverside, when she was 15 and had junior standing there by the time she finished high school. She transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington in early 2000 to finish her degree and went to work for the Indiana Department of Commerce in December 2002 as a Community Development Block Grant administrator.
From there she moved across the country and worked full time in the Public Works department of Colton, Calif., as a capital project manager while earning her master’s degree in public administration from California State University, San Bernardino. She was promoted to assistant to the city manager of Colton following her graduation with honors.
“Then the recession hit,” Amanda said. “I made lots of moves and upheavals to find work.”
She even had a brief opportunity to work for the State of Tennessee’s Local Planning Assistance Office in the Department of Economic and Community Development in Nashville in early 2010. Unfortunately, that division was eliminated, leaving Amanda scrambling for a job and heading back to California to find work.
“I did everything from sweeping floors at Petco to substitute teaching in California,” she said. “I started my own community planning business, and I’m still operating that today.” She had a chance to return to Tennessee as the Director of Local Planning for the South Central Tennessee Development District in Mount Pleasant.
Her last stop before Forest Hills was the City of Shelby-ville, where she started in February 2013. “I was their first Planning and Community Development Director (the position had been combined with Building and Codes before) so I had the opportunity to develop an independent planning program.”
Rhinehart sees her role as a catalyst and a clearinghouse when citizens have a problem. “I’m the first-line responder, in a position to get immediate results.” She said ensuring that residents’ needs are being served and letting them know their problems are not being ignored is a top priority.
Amanda said she is looking forward to getting to know the diverse group of residents comprising the City of Forest Hills. She takes seriously her responsibility to encapsulate the desires of the residents and formulate their feedback into proposals to be presented to the City Commissioners. “I will continue to tailor the community to the needs of the residents,” she said.
She is active in the Tennessee Chapter of the American Planning Association and was elected Middle Tennessee Section Director in January for a two-year term. In her spare time Amanda likes photography, international travel, being outdoors, snow skiing, and Cheekwood. Her son Mason was born in November 2013.
A record 360 vehicles brought nearly 30,000 pounds of electronics, scrap metal, donations, and documents to be shredded at the spring Recycling Clean-Out.
Document shredding doubled from the last event, and organizers had to call for a second truck for the first time ever.
Forest Hills residents have recycled more than 100 tons of materials since 2012.SPECIAL REPORT Where does it all go? MORE
|Electronics recycling (lbs.)||11,096||10,393||4,256||6,228||6,181||6,609||5,657||7,341||5,217||7,145||70,123|
|Scrap metal/bulk items (lbs.)||4,000||6,000||5,000||10,100||5,000||7,100||4,500||4,140||4,540||2,720||53,100|
|Clothing, shoes, books (lbs.)||1,000||3,000||3,000||2,000||2,700||3,700||4,200||3,950||3,620||4,750||31,920|
|Paper shredding (lbs.)||na||na||na||6,000||6,500||5,500||6,700||8,900||6,500||13,000||53,100|
|Tires (#)||10||25||8 /||14||9||12||5||27||17||6||133|
|Pallet recycling (#)||21||11||10||2||6||6||2||6||3||0||67|
|Mattresses/box springs (#)||22||35||17||6||14||26||7||15||10||9||161|
|Packing peanuts/pellets (cu.ft.)||22||20||18||9||20||10||10||40||20||3||172|
The tree-covered hills throughout Forest Hills neighborhoods represent the essence of the area’s natural beauty. Even more importantly, trees play an essential role in holding the ground together on the hillsides, ridgetops, and steep slopes throughout the City.
Much of the soil in Forest Hills is colluvial, which naturally washes away over time anyway. When trees on a steep slope are cut, it may further destabilize the soil because the trees’ roots were helping to hold the soil onto the hillside.
Because so much of the land in Forest Hills lies on hillsides and steep slopes, the City’s Zoning Ordinance includes passages aimed especially at preserving and protecting trees and steep slopes. It defines Hillside Protection Overlay districts and provides guidelines for development in higher elevations. Maps of the protected districts are available at City Hall.
The guidelines were established to protect the natural beauty and topography of the land in the face of development. As an “overlay” district, any development or land disturbance within the area must comply with the technical and development standards outlined in the Zoning Ordinance. Without guidelines, development can increase the amount of runoff after a rainstorm, which leads to greater erosion and the potential for the slope to become destabilized.
Trees play an important role in enhancing the visual quality of life and protecting property values in the City. Portions of the Zoning Ordinance stress the need for planting, maintaining, and preserving trees in an effort to limit the destruction and ensure the survival of mature trees. That’s because mature trees contribute significantly to reducing stormwater impact and reducing erosion through their extensive root systems.
If you plan to make any changes to parts of your property that lie on hillsides or steep slopes, be sure to consult with City Manager Amanda Rhinehart. She will work with you to develop a plan than minimizes the loss of trees and lessens the impact on the environment.
The Richland Creek Initiative spent April reviving and restoring the waterway in projects sponsored by the Cultural and Natural Resources Committee and Cumberland River Compact.
April opened with a native plant class educating citizens about the importance of clean water to the City. Eighty residents heard from clean water experts and then shopped for native shrubs, ferns, perennials, and grasses at wholesale prices.
The April 29 Creek Stomp had perfect weather and a turnout of nearly 20 people including CNR Committee members Linda Kartoz-Doochin and Clay Jackson, Commissioner Henry Trost and his deputy Marguerite Trost.
Several bags of trash were removed from the creek, primarily on Hillsboro Church of Christ land as well as Clay Jackson’s property.
The state Department of Environment and Conservation has listed Richland Creek as polluted. The headwaters—the very beginning of Richland Creek—belong to us in Forest Hills. The City is working with Cumberland River Compact and TDEC to find solutions to the polluted waters of our creek. Our goal as a City is to certified unpolluted waters in Richland Creek by winter 2018.
The Creek Stomp, below, and native plant class/sale, above, increased awareness and got residents involved in waterway health.MORE PHOTOS
Planting native perennials, trees, and shrubs is an effective, natural way to prevent erosion, especially on sloping terrain.
Long-term studies show that a hillside with a well-designed garden planted in natives has little measurable erosion.
It’s important to mix perennials, trees, shrubs, and groundcovers. Be sure to use mulch, and fill in with large stones between plants.
Use a variety of plants instead of a monoculture. A good plant mix controls water much more efficiently because a variety of levels and layers intercepts and cushions rainfall before it hits the soil.
Avoid using grasses for erosion control; they have been found to be ineffective and even to increase soil erosion.
Stormwater management information is provided as part of the City’s education requirement under its state permit. MORE TIPS.
With every year that passes, more people from outside the region are learning what natives have known for years: Nashville is great place to live, and Forest Hills offers an ideal option for beautiful open spaces, family friendly neighborhoods, and one more thing.
Take Scott Hayduk, alternate member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, and his wife Maria, for example. They literally could have chosen to make their home anywhere in the country, and they chose Forest Hills.
Scott and Maria met on an airplane while Scott was chief financial officer of an IBM account and living in Seattle. Maria, a healthcare consultant, was already familiar with Nashville after attending undergraduate and graduate school at Vanderbilt.
Some time later, they were married in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Their daughter Lia was born in Seattle, and their sons Derek and Jack were born while Scott was working at IBM headquarters in the New York/Connecticut area.
“Living there was incredibly costly,” Scott said. “We knew educating three kids would be very expensive.”
Then in 2007, soon after Scott had taken a new assignment within IBM’s legal department, he and Maria were attending a company Christmas party when Scott realized that most of his peers were based outside the area and worked remotely.
“They were spread out all over the country,” he said. “I talked with my team, and started considering working outside of headquarters myself. I could live wherever I wanted and do my job.”
After attending Maria’s 20th college reunion at Vanderbilt, the couple started thinking about making the move South. “I told Maria, if you can sell the house, we can move,” he said. “We sold it in May of 2009.”
Moved to City in 2009
Maria and Scott brought their family to Forest Hills that summer. They knew they wanted to live in the Percy Priest Elementary School area, and conducted an internet search for houses based on that factor. At that time Lia was in going into the fourth grade, Derek into the second grade, and Jack attended Montessori school.
They found a house that looked promising on Montcrest Drive and they bought the house sight-unseen.
When the sale fell through after a housing inspector found mold, the Hayduks rented a home on Otter Creek Road near Percy Priest school.
“We fell in love with the area, walking to school every day and meeting several of the neighbors.”
The Hayduks moved into their current home on Robert E. Lee Court the weekend of Nashville’s monumental flooding. “I had to learn to drain the pool,” Scott said. “I had to drain it three times.”
Scott quickly became involved with the PPE parents’ organization and served as parliamentarian for its executive board. “It was a great way to dip my feet into a leadership role in the community.”
Scott first had interactions with the City of Forest Hills after PPE completed its library expansion in the 2011-2012 school year and determined the school needed to put a fence around the school playground. He worked closely with then-Mayor Bill Coke and Vice Mayor John Lovell to reach an agreement allowing Forest Hills residents to use the playground when school was not in session.
Through the process he became friends with Henry Trost, and Scott’s daughter Lia and Henry’s daughter now go to Harpeth Hall together.
He got to know Commissioner Lanson Hyde after the school experienced a security breach, and he and Lanson met several times to compare notes. “We became close acquaintances,” he said. “Sometime later, I was asked to be an alternate member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, even though I had little experience in that area. My career was in the legal department of IBM, negotiating contracts.”
City officials assured him that he was well suited to the assignment.
“ ‘You know how to read and interpret data,’ they said. ‘We can train you for the rest,’ ” Scott explained.
Hayduk joined the BZA in April 2015, filling in when other members of the BZA—Janie Rowland, Jim Littlejohn, and Mark Banks—cannot attend the meetings.
“Every time I walk into a meeting, I’m smarter when I walk out,” he said. “I learn a tremendous amount from Janie, Jim, and Mark. They’ve seen so many examples come through, they’ve become really good at it.”
Scott said he enjoys hearing from residents. “It’s a lot of fun to meet residents and hear them speak for or against a proposed item. Sometimes we have to unravel tangled situations to make sure everything fits together the way the City wants it.”
He said the BZA’s job is made easier because usually neighbors are willing to work together and find a compromise. “They are eager to find a palatable solution, and that makes our job very constructive.”
The work of the BZA is important, Scott said, because every situation is different. “Not everything is cookie-cutter. All the homes here are unique, and everyone shares one basic tenet: to protect and increase property values.”
He said the responsibility of the BZA is to evaluate how the City planners have things laid out and how it should be developed. When an adjustment is necessary, the board is obligated to make sure that it is the best adjustment. Sometimes, the optimal solution may come from taking a look at the situation in a different way and exploring a counter-proposal.
“The BZA guides residents through their options for construction and remodeling projects, and in the process help homeowners save time, money, and aggravation as well as being kind to the environment,” Hayduk said.
Scott and Maria have three children. Lia, 17, is a rising senior at Harpeth Hall. She has a servant’s heart, volunteering for programs that help abused children and improve disadvantaged neighborhoods. “Someday she’ll probably get a law degree and work representing people who can’t defend themselves,” Scott said.
Derek, 15, goes to Hume Fogg High School, and Jack, 12, attends John Trotwood Moore. Both boys love sports and play travel baseball. Jack is a bat boy for the Vanderbilt baseball team. The family loves to attend sporting events and has season tickets to Vanderbilt football, basketball, and baseball games.
They share their home with two dogs, an English golden lab Buddy and an American black lab Sammy.
Scott serves on the board of Seven Hills Swim and Tennis Club and was its president in 2016.
Norris and Britton Nielsen have lived in Forest Hills since 1972, but when Norris walks around the yard, his memories go back much further than that. He grew up in the area and often came to visit his playmate P.D. Houston III.
They loved playing in the woods and visiting P.D.’s grandmother’s home, Hunter’s Hill, located behind the Houstons’ property. Sometimes they would unearth Civil War relics.
“There were no other houses out here back then,” Norris remembers. “Not until around 1950.”
Even when the Nielsens arrived in the 1970s, the area had much more open land than neighborhoods.
“The girls had to ‘import’ friends,” Britton said, but they didn’t mind. “They loved playing around the trees and in the creek.”
The house was built by P.D. Houston Jr., president of First American Bank, and was finished in 1941 about the time of Pearl Harbor. He and his wife raised their family there, but ultimately were ready for a smaller place.
At the time, the Nielsens lived on Westview Avenue and were beginning to outgrow it as their family grew. At the same time the Houstons were downsizing, the Nielsens were ready to “upsize.”
“The Houstons spent their winters in Arizona and summers in Michigan, and they didn’t need this big house,” Norris said.
“We are only the second owners,” Britton added.
Residents since 1972
They moved to Forest Hills in November 1972, when their daughter Marguerite was four months old. Her big old antique cradle was too large to go through the doorway into her nursery, so movers attached ropes to it and pulled it up through a second-story window.
They raised three daughters there: Britt, Marguerite, and Noni.
Norris, who “gradually retired” from the investment business, used to be an avid golfer. A few years back, his buddies started making a move away from golfing and began taking up duplicate bridge. He embraced the game and now enjoys playing at the Vanderbilt Bridge Club on White Bridge Road.
Britton is a true tree-hugger and loves to plant trees on the property. Her latest project is planting young chestnut trees. The American chestnut, once accounting for up to one-fourth of the hardwood trees growing in the eastern U.S., succumbed to a blight in the early 20th century that killed perhaps billions of trees and left the species virtually extinct.
“A group in Asheville is working to develop a variety that resists the chestnut disease,” she said. “It is a cross between American chestnut and Chinese chestnut. My friend Vicki Turner has been good enough to share the nuts with me so that I can start the trees. Keeping the deer away from them has been a real project.”
Norris and Britton Nielsen admire the massive red oak tree in their front yard. The tree stands over 100 feet tall and 100 feet wide at the crown with a circumference of more than 12 feet, according to the Nashville Tree Foundation.
She’s also planted lots of bur oaks from acorns she gathers, and likes to transplant young cedar trees if she can get to them while they are small. “The roots get so deep” that it prohibits transplanting later.
Sometimes she plants a tree to mark a special occasion, such as the willow oak she planted when Noni completed her years at Davidson College.
“We have probably at least 30 varieties of trees,” she said. Two of her trees, a persimmon and a red oak, are recognized as champion Big Old Trees by the Nashville Tree Foundation.
One of the things that makes Forest Hills special is its natural beauty, including local wildlife. You can help document this aspect of the City by sharing your photos.
Add your entry to the Forest Hills wildlife scrapbook.
Derek Hayduk spotted this owl on Tyne Boulevard.
Streets scheduled for paving in the upcoming weeks include Hemingway Drive, Yancey Drive, Carlton Drive, Everett Drive, Alcott Drive, Hilcott Drive, Timberwood Drive, Timberwood Place.
All streets in Forest Hills except Granny White Pike, Harding Place, Hillsboro Pike, and Old Hickory Boulevard are maintained and paid for by the City of Forest Hills. No Metro money is provided to defray these costs.
In order to manage the maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation of the streets maintained by the City, the Board of Commissioners implemented a Long Range Paving Schedule in 2010.
Forest Hills has a new speed radar trailer to help raise awareness of speed limits in the City.
The trailer is set up in the right-of-way around the City to help residents and those who pass through the community obey the speed limit.
The trailer’s first six weeks of operation in May and June found 85% of drivers exceeding the limit on a half-dozen streets, including one vehicle going 79 mph on Tyne Boulevard. The City is working with Metro Police to intermittently have ticket enforcement paired with the trailer.
|4629 Tara Drive||Harding Place||30||33.7||41||76||4,897|
|2701 Tyne Boulevard||Foxwood Road||35||34||39||79||24,067|
|4913 Lynmont Drive||Tyne Boulevard||30||26.4||32||40||1,423|
|1913 Kingsbury Drive||Melbourne Drive||30||32.1||38||74||6,337|
|1825 Cromwell Drive||Pinehurst Drive||30||24.1||30||38||70|
|6112 Pinehurst Drive||Cromwell Drive||30||28.4||34||44||272|
|5806 Beauregard Drive||Kenesaw Drive||30||24.7||30||37||981|
|6116 Montcrest Drive||Cromwell Drive||30|
With school back in session, use extra caution when traveling near Percy Priest Elementary School. To keep school children safe and to help traffic flow, follow these guidelines.
● If you are going to the school, approach from Priest Road and turn right on Otter Creek Road.
● Stay on the right margin of Otter Creek as you approach the school entrance.
● Park only in marked parking space. Do not park in the grass along Otter Creek.
● Do not park at the entrances of Otterwood and Hounds Run.
● Do not park in yards of residents who live on streets adjacent to Percy Priest.
Door-to-door solicitors are more than just an occasional nuisance. Law enforcement officials agree they sometimes pose a threat to a homeowner’s safety and security.
“I recommend that a resident who receives a knock at the door from someone that they do not know acknowledge their presence while dismissing them in the process,” Ericka Cole, Crime Prevention Officer for Nashville’s West Precinct, said. “This can be done by simply saying through the closed and locked door, ‘I am busy right now; please come back at another time.’ ”
Most burglars do not want to encounter a person upon breaking and entering, she said. “The reason I recommend the homeowner dismiss an unknown knock is due to the fact that many burglars will knock, ring a doorbell, and even sometimes call a land-line phone to verify a home is vacant before attempting to break in.”
Cole praised high-tech doorbells that let you see who is at your door even when you are not at home. “A great tool that is available now is the doorbells with built-in security camera and speaker, allowing a homeowner to respond to a doorbell ring electronically—regardless of their location and leaving the visitor with the impression that someone is home, even if they are not.”
Cole also noted that would-be burglars may call land-line telephones (since land-line numbers are easily linked to an address) and listen for unanswered calls as a tip that no one is at home.
“Another crime prevention tip is simply to turn the ringers of landline phones off when you are not at home,” she said. “Make it part of your routine when locking up and leaving the house: Turn the ringer on your phone off. Then when you return home, turn it back on.”
Sgt. Michelle Jones, Community Coordinator for the Midtown Hills Precinct, offers some tips for what to do when solicitors come to your door.
● Only open the door if you feel comfortable. Do not stand in your doorway. “You can speak with the person through a door window or doorbell camera,” Jones said.
● Ask for credentials. All solicitors in Davidson County are required to obtain permits before going door-to-door. “Request to see their credentials, and ask for company information such as a manager’s name and the headquarters address and phone number,” she said. “Call and verify!”
● Do not allow the solicitor(s) into your home. Stand firm in asking them to leave your property.
● If you feel that you are being harassed by a solicitor or anyone, call Metro Nashville Police Department’s non-emergency phone number (615-862-8600) to have an officer respond to the area. However, if the solicitor shows acts of violence or uses threats of intimidation, call 911 immediately.
Both Officer Cole and Sgt. Jones stressed that you can always ask to have an officer investigate questionable situations.
“Feel free to contact the non-emergency number to have an officer dispatched to the location to investigate the solicitor and company he/she works with,” Jones said. “Please make sure you give a good description of the persons and/or vehicle when calling.”
The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives customers three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home.
Along with a receipt, salespeople are required to give purchasers a completed cancellation form and provide a refund within 10 days.