Sinking Barge And Foundry Property Get Free Pass From Inspectors - And Response (2)

Friday, April 26, 2013

For some time, I have watched building and land codes applied to one location and blinder inspections used for other more politically connected owners.

The dilapidated barge on the riverfront and old foundry building sites are getting a free pass in building code regulations. If you or I owned these buildings, we would be citied to court for building code violations in a Little Chicago minute.

The gateway to Chattanooga from Nashville on I-24 is a dilapidated foundry building acquired from the federal courts. As it turns out the primary owners are also appointed members of city regulatory boards. Nice.

Then, there is the barge on the river front. I cannot believe that the Corps of Engineers that regulates river navigation and city of Chattanooga are allowing this condition. The loose debris could easily cause danger to river traffic.

Why does the enforcement of regulations occur at the maximum extent possible for some and not to others? I contend that political connections determine the severity of enforcement.

After years as an environmental regulator for TDEC, I watched first-hand political intervention on the enforcement of regulations. If you are on the A-List of politics, you can indeed be protected for regulations.

In the case of the riverfront barge and foundry property, it is evident there are building and land codes applicable to us, and another set for the A-List.

April Eidson

* * *

April, to compare these two properties is nonsensical.

On the one hand, we have the barge. It was brought down here without much thought or planning, it seems. It is an eyesore of epic proportions. It has the potential to be a death trap. There is no telling how bad of shape it really is in, and its potential positive impact on the city is negligible, at best. It should be cut up and sold for scrap today.

The foundry property, on the other hand, was already here. It was an abandoned factory. It has since been cleaned up a ton, in case you forget what it used to look like. The main remaining building is one of the oldest in Chattanooga, if I’m not mistaken, and the hopes are to incorporate it into any future development. What would you have the owners do, tear it down because it hurts your eyes as you drive by? Give them a chance to put something meaningful here instead of rushing into some sort of big box project. The potential positive impact on the city with this property is huge. Let’s give the owners the benefit of the doubt.

Mike Willingham

* * *

Mike W. and April E. see things their way, so here is mine. Yes the boat is an eyesore about the size of a large house and is seen by several people on a good day. The Wheland and US Pipe land is several city blocks large and seen by hundreds of thousands of regulars and visitors on a bad day. 

So, the boat probably needs to be towed to deep water and made into a fish habitat, is what a retired TWRA guy has suggested, not too hard of a fix. On the other hand concerning the industrial graveyard, maybe we should just leave it forever since it has so much history. It's only been over five ears since they acquired the land, another 20 to 100 won't hurt us if it stays just like it is. That is probably best anyway, just leave it like it is forever since it has so much history as Mike W. pointed out. Maybe build a small museum to acknowledge the history, like the towing museum. 

However, I agree with April E. that if there are ordinances that other citizens are to abide by then that should apply to everyone, now who can argue that point, I think that is what she was saying wasn't it? One more thing, with the poverty and needs of the citizens of Chattanooga being what it is I hope the newer and wiser city council doesn't turn it into a TIF project that would put a burden on the citizens. 

I just read this in another article concerning this very property "And they can afford to wait, Mallen said, since he and partner Gary Chazen own the property outright and don't have to pay back a loan." So I guess it is a good thing that they are well off enough to own it and not be in a hurry. Good for them, they deserve another 20 to 100 years to look for a way to make something of it. 

It's solved then, the owners of the Wheland/US Pipe land deserve eternity to look for development while following all city, county and state ordinances like everyone else and the fish can hopefully have a new home with the boat. Makes sense to me.

Joe Blevins

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