County Commission Establishes Agenda For Next Voting Session

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - by Gail Perry

The Hamilton County Commission met on Wednesday to establish the agenda for their regular voting session that will be held on Sept. 18. 

Some items that will be considered include requests from commissioners representing districts five, six, seven and nine to take money from the General Fund travel discretionary money to be used for various programs to feed children in Hamilton County who have a lack of food. The requested amounts are $500 for district five, and $1,000 for the other three districts. 

A resolution will be voted on that would approve regulations governing the use of the county right-of-ways. Commissioner Warren Mackey was assured that the county would not be giving up any authority in these areas now or in the future if this measure passes. It just puts clear rules in place and lays out how they apply. The policy puts the responsibility under the Highway Department. If approved this would give the County Commission more control to govern the right-of-ways, he was told. 

There will be a resolution that would approve purchasing vehicles to be used by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department if passed next week. Two vehicles would be used as unmarked cars for the amount not to exceed $60,000 and a second resolution would be to surplus 20 vehicles and replace with 20 new ones in the amount of $667,524. Commissioners were told that police interceptors are now $5,000-$7,000 higher than a couple of years ago. 

Approval will be requested to apply for a 2019 Homeland Security Grant with the Tennessee Department of Military and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. 

Accepting the low bid for re-roofing the Hamilton County courthouse in the amount of $1,542,267 will be on the agenda Sept. 18. There will be a 30-year warranty for that roof. 

Rezoning property at 5701 Island View Dr. drew a room full of people in opposition, as well as to the Hamilton County Planning Commission meeting, when the request to grant a special permit for a short-term rental at the location was considered. John Bridger, executive director of the Regional Planning Agency, told the commissioners that the Planning Commission staff had recommended approval but with the large crowed opposed, ended up recommending to deny the permit. 

The rezoning request for a large, new subdivision at 3132 Ooltewah Ringgold Road drew no opposition on Wednesday. The development originally had 47 lots, but engineer Mike Price told the Commission that number has been reduced to 38 buildings. That means around four lots per acre, he said. Planning Commission staff recommended approval with the condition that a landscaped buffer of 10 feet surrounds the buildings. There are other subdivisions in the area, said Mr. Price. 

The Regional Planning Agency is recommending approval to add a definition for Commercial Agriculture, Commercial Animal Husbandry and Open-Air Markets. This will prevent nuisances created with agricultural uses immediately next to a residential area, said Mr. Bridger. An example was if property next to a home was purchased to be used as a chicken or cattle farm. He said that would reduce neighborhood property values. 

Commissioner Mackey said that he believes a property owner should be able to develop anyway he wants. This proposed amendment to the zoning regulations would not apply to existing developments, said Mr. Bridger, they would be grandfathered in. “I’d like to loosen the rules,” said Commissioner Mackay. “In this case, we need to tighten rules.” It would not stop growth, he said, some regulations are needed, said Commissioner Chester Bankston.

Addressing the rumors that Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger would not re-run at the next election, he said that three years out is unusual to talk about. He said if the Commission is going to move the county forward it needs to be focused. He said there is much to be done in education, infrastructure and growth in the county and he is hopeful he can get things done. He said that we need to concentrate on what we are doing now, not in the future. “I’m all in with you and I look forward to the future,” said Commissioner Mackey. 

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