Lookout Mountain Commission Dodging Trashy Issue

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - by Hannah Campbell

Mark Caldwell, who owns the parking lot behind the string of Lookout Mountain, Tn., businesses along Scenic Highway from an inch beyond each back door, has told these close neighbors that he no longer wants their trash cans on his property.

Property owners say the town garbage truck falls under ingress and egress provisions in their deeds along with delivery trucks and customer traffic. They say they there’s no other way to get rid of their trash.

Mr. Caldwell said he had tried to solve the trashy problem by renting a dumpster and asking shop owners to pitch in for its cost. He said he hoped they would use it instead of leaving their trash by their back doors where animals and wind spread the garbage around his property.

Mr. Caldwell said the last straw came in October when he paid a few hundred dollars to clean up stray packing materials and receipts from his parking lot.

Property owners Beverly Nolan, who owns the Twiggs building, and Mark Douglas, owner of Body Fit Concepts, said they have tried to be very clean with their trash and have not seen what Mr. Caldwell complains of. Shop owners agreed they would not mind using a dumpster as long as it was free, since Mr. Caldwell won’t allow them to set out trash for town pickup.

“We want the city to get involved,” said Mr. Douglas.

Mr. Caldwell said he has spent a lot of time and money cleaning up that back parking lot - repaving it and putting in a curb and landscaping. “It was like a Third World slum back there,” he said, until he spent about $235,000 to give it a facelift.

“I would hope that the town would be able to stay out of this,” said Mayor Greg Brown. Town attorney Brian Smith said the shop owners only own the footprint of their buildings and that Mr. Caldwell does own the parking lot all the way up to their back doors. Mr. Caldwell is required to provide access to and from the buildings for deliveries, customers and anyone else coming or going to the businesses.

“There are no setbacks in our commercial district,” said Mr. Smith. “No one has a right to place garbage on his property and expect him to clean it up.”

Police said shopkeepers could bring their trash cans to Watauga Lane to get them off the parking lot, but only on trash pickup days twice a week. “We won’t have any place to put (our trash),” said the Twiggs shopkeeper.

Mr. Smith said the town will research its official role in commercial trash pickup and report back at the January meeting.

-- Playground --

“I think we are unanimous in our decision that it is time to replace the Maze,” said commission member Will Moses, who is in charge of Lookout Mountain parks and recreation, speaking of the board of recreation’s recent talks about a new playground at the town hall.

Board member Bill Glascock said the board did discuss at length saving the community-built Mountain Maze. “We cycled our way through that,” he said. Mr. Moses said the board has decided that the new playground will not be community-built, primarily because he knows no one would want to help tear down the Maze.

“It was a great thing back in 1990,” he said. “If you can perceive that as a Cadillac, we want to replace it with a Cadillac.” He said the new playground will be a destination playground.

The board of recreation hopes to have a public meeting about the playground by late February. “We don’t want to open the doors to the public without having something to show them,” said Mr. Moses. The board is currently working on playground design and managing playground bids. The town has begun the grant application process for PARTAS funds, the Parks and Recreation Technical Advisory Service.

-- Upcoming Events and Other News --

Lookout Elementary School Christmas program: Thursday, Dec. 13, at 8:30 a.m.

School Christmas Break: Dec. 18 through Jan. 7

The council approved $5,350 to purchase 175 feet of metal guardrail for North Bragg at the Natural Bridge park. Recent clearing of underbrush there revealed a 30-foot-deep ravine right off the side of the road. The guardrail may be painted green and have flowers or bushes planted in front of it to ease its appearance.

The town will continue clearing the park to expose views of the stone bridge from the street and will make paths between the bridge, the parking lot and Bragg.

-- Audit Report --

Year to Date revenue: $3.035 million
YTD assets up from $5.779 million to $6.17 million
YTD liabilities down from $2.8 million to $2.6 million

-- November Budget Report --

Total revenue: $171,000
Total expenses: $174,000
YTD surplus: $220,000

Financial counsel Ansley Moses said watering town property through the drought has caused extra spending for water. He expects much money to be refunded, however, since watering is not linked to the sewer system. Mr. Moses requested that next month’s water budget be raised to $13,000 from the current $10,000. November water expenses were over $11,000.


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