East Ridge Will Take Action On Flood Control Rather Than Contract For Corps Study; Pool Property To Be Used For Tennis, Dog Park, Walking

Friday, March 28, 2014 - by Gail Perry
The East Ridge City Council decided Thursday night to decline a proposed flood study by the Army Corps of Engineers. The city would have been responsible for half of the $700,000 for the study alone and that did not include any work to alleviate the problem. Earlier, the city had been given an estimate of $20 million to $25 million to lessen, not solve, the problems that occur with heavy rain events.  

City Manager Andrew Hyatt recommended that the city on its own clean out large debris from the creeks such as trees and tires, dig retention ponds to hold water and build dirt walls in an attempt to help with flooding in the problem areas.

  Councilman Marc Gravitt suggested that in the future the city purchase properties with persistent flooding problems, tear down the buildings and turn the land into green spaces.

Mike Price, an engineer representing a new townhouse development on Frawley Road, requested a zoning change to RT-1 for property to be added to the two acres where townhouses have already been approved. He said that the additional land plus the rezoning would allow the buildings to be arranged in a standard position around a cul-de-sac. It would allow more buildings to fit in the plan, as well.

He also asked that the council amend the zoning ordinance to allow two-unit buildings, which are banned under the present ordinance that was written to prevent duplexes from being built. The issue became complicated when he said that duplexes had been built at an adjacent townhouse development, The Lakes at Frawley. When asked how that happened, Chief Building Inspector Mark Dempsey answered that he “didn’t see or catch it.”

Four residents of the immediate area expressed concern along with the council members, that the proposals could allow more rental properties to be built, which they all were opposed to.  The project as planned will consist of 19 units, two being duplexes and the remaining would be triplexes. Mr. Price told the council that two-unit structures yield a better product because center units do not have side windows. He also said the intent of the owner was to sell the townhouses for individual use not for rentals. Vice Mayor Jim Bethune commented there was no way to prevent an individual owner from renting their property. City Attorney Hal North added that two units could be bought by a single person who could treat the property as a rental duplex, which is what the officials are trying to prevent.  

Approval was given for rezoning the additional property to RT-1. The matter of modifying the definition of townhouse to include two-unit structures was tabled for further consideration.

The council members defined a plan for the old swimming pool property on Monroe Street that is owned by the city. They gave approval for the city to apply for and accept a local parks and recreation funds state grant for the amount of $100,000 to create a new park at the location. This is a 50/50 matching grant which would yield $200,000 for the city. It was decided the park would consist of tennis courts, a dog park, a walking track and restrooms.

City Manager Hyatt was authorized to open an interest-bearing capital improvement fund and to create a plan for procuring capital expenditures such as fire trucks or new buildings. To start, $1 million will be moved from the current reserve fund. On an on-going basis no less than 25 percent of the reserve fund, the exact amount to be determined by the council, will be added each year in June.

A decision was made that gas to power the city’s vehicles will be bought using Mapco’s fleet advantage fuel cards instead of making repairs to the city’s existing underground fuel tanks. This resolution does not lock the city into using Mapco exclusively but it allows the city to take advantage of the company’s billing and tracking system.

In another resolution, the council authorized the city to contract with Henderson, Hutcherson and McCullough, PLLC for yearly auditing services that are required by the state of Tennessee. Another contract was approved with Orange Grove Center, which for many years has provided general cleaning of the grounds and bathrooms at the city’s parks from April through July. Parks and Recreation Director Stump Martin said the arrangement is mutually beneficial.

In his report to the council, City Manager Hyatt said he has gotten a quote for $2,200 for a warning system at Camp Jordan to be used for weather or other emergencies. He said he feels it is important and is also looking at warning procedures for other parts of town.

Starting today, all of the city’s ordinances will be scanned and put online so everyone will have access to them, Mr. Hyatt said.

Mr. Hyatt has been city manager for six months and he told the council that he would like to have an evaluation done by the council in the next 30 days as a critique to see if he is going in the right direction.

In the February financial report, budget manager Diane Qualls told the council that at this time in the budget year the city should be at 75 percent of revenues and expenditures. As of today that number is at 74.5 percent of revenues and 61.8 percent for expenditures.  Everybody is watching their budgets, she said, and the city is close to where it is suppose to be.

Several council members as well as the city attorney will be unable to attend the next regularly scheduled council meeting on April 10 therefore it has been cancelled. The next meeting of the East Ridge City Council will be April 24 at 6:30 p.m.

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