The East Ridge City Council Thursday night discussed how to proceed with commercial redevelopment in the city. Interest has been spurred by the Bass Pro Shop’s announcement that a new store will be located in East Ridge. Mayor Brent Lambert and the other council members are encouraged by new interest from retail businesses and developers. In the last week, City Manager Andrew Hyatt said he had been contacted by two developers that want to make presentations to the city officials.
East Ridge is one of three municipalities in Tennessee that has been designated as a “Border Region.
” Some of the state taxes collected from businesses in a Border Region are given to the city. The city in turn, can use the extra money as an incentive to lure businesses to locate there.
The city wants to fill multiple vacant buildings and undeveloped properties along Ringgold Road with quality commercial establishments. Retail Strategies, an economic development group from Birmingham, has made a proposal to the city manager. This company is described as a consulting firm that acts as a liaison between potential tenants and property owners. Its bid is to contract with East Ridge for three years at $42,000 the first year and $24,000 for the next two.
The council recognized the need for help to market the city, but asked Mr. Hyatt to get several other proposals for comparison before the next council meeting.
A vote to include the newly proposed charter amendment in the November referendum was approved on second reading. Changes in the charter would include the qualifications for a city manager being defined as having a bachelor’s degree in any field along with having had three years of direct supervisory experience in government. The city manager and the city attorney could only be removed with a super majority vote from the council. There are also provisions for recalling the mayor and council members and the stipulation that salaries of these positions can only be adjusted by referendum. East Ridge would also be allowed to establish its own school district.
A public hearing was held concerning changing rezoning of property located at 1516 Tombras Ave. from R-1 residential district to R-3 residential apartment district. The lot is adjacent to property on Esterbrook Court that already has 18 senior living apartments. The owner has applied to build 10 more units on the adjoining lot. “No, no, no,” said one nearby resident in opposition to the plan. East Ridge is over-run with rental property which has had a negative effect on the city, said two citizens who spoke. Speaking for the project was a man who has lived in the existing development for 14 years and who said the tenants are fine people and it is well run. The vote will take place at the next scheduled meeting when all five councilmen are present.
Authorization was given by the council for East Ridge to participate in the state of Tennessee recycling rebate matching grant program. This year the city will get over $3,000 that will be used to purchase more recycling containers. Recycling has been a success for the city, said Mayor Lambert. When it was begun it was hoped that 400 people would participate. Now East Ridge has 2,300 participants.
Participation in the Tennessee Municipal League’s risk management pool “safety partners” matching grant program was also approved. It is a grant that is applied for every year, the council was told. The city’s part will be $2,000 with the 50/50 matching grant. This money will buy safety equipment for employees such as safety glasses, safety shoes and suits and bullet-proof vests.
Approval was also given for submitting an application for the Speedway Superfleet fleet fueling program and for allowing bids for the purchase of two new command vehicles and 12 new squad cars. These vehicles have been budgeted for $425,000 and will be self-financed.
In his report to the council, Mr. Hyatt announced a new program that the public works department will undertake. Each Monday morning a “clean sweep” will take place to make the city look better.
On July 28, Night-Out Against Crime will be at Camp Jordan. Both the fire and police departments will have speakers and there will be live musical entertainment.
The city manager also told of a new fall concert series sponsored by the city over a four-six week period starting Aug. 30, called Music in the Park. During the series a variety of music will be performed. This is a way the city can give back to the community, he said.