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Residents Disagree with Rezoning Request
by Ashley Murphy

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The first item on the regular agenda for the Bradley County Commission meeting was a rezoning request on Laguna Drive at I-75 from FAR to I-1-C (industrial commercial). The meeting entered into a public hearing and the commission met some residents who were in high opposition of the rezoning, because that meant a new distribution center on the property. chose the location as the site of their new distribution center. Next step, have local government change zoning to accommodate their placement.

Shannon Newman of Mouse Creek Road was the first to speak his concerns. Newman had issues with the potential traffic situation is could create, on top of the already congested area due to Walker Valley High School. In addition, it would create many problems with roadways and produce more wear and tear from the constant trucking traffic.

Monty Davis' big concern was the fact that property values may drop. He believed the area should retain its residential zoning status and preserve the area instead of bringing big business in to potentially botch the area and create problems for residents.

Scott Hicks' main ordeal was with the noise he believes the distribution center would bring. Hicks made it known that he's a shift worker. He doesn't want the noise to create a great disruption for residents who live in the surrounding area. He went on to mention the BCC 2035 plan and why this hasn't been better thought out to accommodate such businesses coming into the area. "The whole process has just been misinformation, half truths and sometimes flat out lies. I understand the need for confidentiality, but there's no reason for anybody on the commission to say, 'Hey, this is what's happening, can't tell you who's coming, but this is what you're looking at.'"

Hicks closed by saying that his main concern was the way the entire thing has been handled, "I don't think any one of you sitting here tonight would vote to put Amazon in your back yard, yet you're telling me that it's okay. I don't think so."

All three men did agree on one main point; why does it have to be this location? They believed an alternate location would be more suitable for the company and the residents.

The rezoning request was approved by the commission, in addition to the PILOT program for

A motion on the agenda by Commissioner Howard Thompson stirred up some disagreement amongst the commissioners last night. Thompson put forth a motion to take the option of a fire contract with City of Cleveland out of the options for the January voting session that will determine the possible future of the two fire departments.

Several commissioners were in disagreement with Thompson, saying that it wasn't wise to remove an option until all facts and figures had come in to support thoughts that a contract is ultimately non-beneficial to the county. The majority of the commissioners in disagreement with Thompson were those whose districts covered, not only the county but, the city as well.

Commissioner Ed Elkins was in agreement with Thompson, reasoning that the money not being paid to the City of Cleveland could go toward benefiting the county and helping to developing a fire department worthy of serving Bradley County residents without the help of the Cleveland Fire Department.

"Because of timing we found ourselves being forced into a contract," Elkins said of a previous meeting when it came down to the commission voting for a 3-year contract. "I think that in the end, it comes down to two choices, either you merge, or you go independently. To continue to consider going on a contract is continuing to rent a car when you have the option of buying one. I think that in order for us to concentrate on making a decision whether we should merge or go independently, we should take that third option, which is the contract, off the table.... the city did make a proposal of a 10-year contract and over that period of time, that's going to be about $16.5 million that could be used for the county..."

In the end, the commission was at a split decision with Commissioners Elkins, Louie Alford, Connie Wilson, Thompson, Bill Ledford, Mel Griffith and Robert Rominger voting to eliminate the contract option. However, the motion failed due to the 7-7 tie.

Before adjourning the meeting, Chairman Alford made it known that he intends to negotiate a meeting with city leaders to discuss the fire issue.

The Bradley County Commission will meet again on Monday, December 13th at noon for a work session, which will be dedicated to discussing the fire options and try to narrow down a decision for January.