Airport Compensation Discussion Still Dominates
by Ashley Murphy
Tuesday, January 19, 2009
The Bradley County Commission was off for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, but came back to session today for their regular voting meeting. The first order of business was to officially nominate and elect a body to fill the empty 6th District Commission Seat. Chairman Louie Alford opened up public nominations and Ray Kerr expressed his interest in the position. Commissioner Mel Griffith nominated Willodyne Smith, wife of former 6th District Commissioner Roy Smith.
Law states that a commissioner must place public nominations on the list, but no one volunteered to place Kerr's name alongside Smith's. This left Willodyne Smith as the only name. Vote was taken and Smith became the new 6th District Commissioner.
Judge Michael Sharp was present to swear Willodyne Smith and she then took her seat with the commission to participate in her first official meeting as commissioner.
County Attorney Joe Byrd wrote a letter to the commission on the issue of zoning compensation for airspace. He stated that the commission was still able to initiate compensation if they wished without the Planning Commission's approval. This would require a vote to initiate the process of compensation and override the Planning Commission's vote. Byrd and County Planner Corey Divel would then draft a letter to the State aeronautics division, await a decision and bring that back before the commission.
Byrd also stated that he and Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division have found no county or municipality that has ever compensated residents for zoning in regards to airspace.
Commissioner Howard Thompson then made a motion to initiate the compensation process and override the Planning Commission's suggestion. Commissioner Jim Smith was the second.
Commissioners Ben Atchley and Brian Smith had concerns about funding. They questioned where money was going to come from in order to compensate these residents. Was the county going to raises taxes to fulfill this? It was suggested that everyone as a whole think about the impact this could have before passing such a motion.
Commissioner Lisa Stanbery inquired to Byrd about past and future zoning laws that could be called to question. Stanbery was curious to know if residents could come back and challenge other zoning laws and resolutions to the capacity that this particular resolution has reached. Byrd simply stated that, yes, it could be highly possible.
After several questions, Thompson withdrew his motion. Commissioner Michael Plumley kept conversation open by asking more questions regarding compensation. How would the compensation be paid? What would be the duration of compensation? Will compensation follow deeds if property was sold or handed down? No questions could be answered at this time, which prompted Atchley to make a motion to follow Planning Commission recommendations and to not amend the current resolution and to not give compensation. Brian Smith made the second.
Howard Thompson then made a sub-motion to override the Planning Commission's recommendation and initiate an amendment to the airport zoning resolution that would provide compensation to landowners.
After the sub-motion failed it went back to Ben Atchley's original motion, which passed with Jim Smith, Howard Thompson, Mel Griffith and Willodyne Smith voting no.
Commissioner Brian Smith notified the commission of a Juvenile Committee discussion about heating and air units at the Juvenile Center needing to be replaced. It was referred to the Finance Committee and during that meeting, it was found that these particular four units are over 20 years old, no longer have warranties, and may not last much longer. While the juvenile center has only been open for five years, it is housed in the old jail building, which was going on 15 years old at the time it became the juvenile center.
Also discussed was the possibility of using a 0% interest loan to replace these units, replace older lighting, and tint windows to cut down on energy costs. Mayor Davis asked for everyone to think about this loan, because it may be 0% interest, but it will still add to the county's already large debt. Discussion will be brought up again, once there is more information gained about the loan.
Commissioner Stanbery proposed a resolution to request the Legislative Administrator develop a web page available from the County Commission page that includes a listing of all know federal, state, local and non-profit programs that are available to assist senior citizens.
A few commissioners had questions about the cost that would be incurred to the county. Stanbery answered, "virtually none." The motion passed unanimously.
The Bradley County Commission's next meeting will be held on Monday, January 25, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse.