Developers are flocking to The Nations to build residences, retail and restaurants as the neighborhood booms.
Lizzy Alfs/The Tennessean


NASHVILLE — A Metro Codes Department blunder helped enable builders to construct at least 85 homes too close together in the booming Nations neighborhood in Nashville. 

It means that all property owners or developers in violation of the zoning laws will have to come into compliance — even if it means home modifications paid for by home owners. The homes span multiple blocks in the rapidly gentrifying community and include some still under construction.

In some cases, the mess could require homeowners to foot the bill to address building code violations that include distance requirements aimed at addressing fire hazards and other safety issues.

Codes officials say the mistake arose, and continued, after a single building inspector signed off on permits — including setback rules — before the home’s exterior was finished. Builders are obligated to follow the limits, but they instead inched closer to property lines during the final phases of construction.  

“It should have been caught,” said Bill Herbert, Metro Codes’ zoning administrator. “I think there’s mutual culpability on the builders themselves and on the building inspector.

“We’re not trying to hide anything. We’re putting it all out on the open. We see we’ve got a problem. The vast majority of the problem was caused by one inspector in one area.”

The situation comes as neighborhoods near Nashville’s urban core are undergoing a drastic transformation as developers increasingly tear down smaller, older homes to clear the way for new, oversized houses that push closer to property lines.  

The codes department believes the error was isolated to The Nations, located in West Nashville north of Charlotte Avenue, but they can’t say for sure whether homes in other parts of Davidson County might also be out of compliance.

They plan to review other neighborhoods. The number of affected homes in The Nations could change as codes officials continue a neighborhood-wide analysis. 

How the issue unfolded 

Codes officials…