A referendum on the November ballot in East Ridge approved allowing package liquor stores and for wine to be sold at retail food stores in the city. The sale of liquor, wine and high gravity beer is controlled by the state of Tennessee, but the city has the ability to establish its own methods for locating, regulating and licensing the businesses. At the council meeting on Thursday night, an ordinance was approved setting out the conditions and requirements for package stores and wine sales in East Ridge.
Some of the highlights of the new ordinance were given by City Attorney Mark Litchford and City Manager Chris Dorsey. The city’s regulations include where they will be allowed to locate. The city has been divided into two zones, District A, which is commercial property between Belvoir and the Bachman Tunnels. District B is property with road frontage on Ringgold Road between Moore and Spring Creek Roads. One store with a minimum size of 5,000 square feet, will be allowed in each of the two districts. The city wants quality stores that would include a wine section and large stores would have the room, said the city manager. It is hoped that having one store in each zone will bring customers to both areas of the city.
A lottery has been identified as the best way to select who will get a liquor license and only one application can be submitted per person to prevent “stuffing the lottery box.” The businesses will be allowed to operate from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sundays. No consumption will be allowed at stores with the exception of small amounts for “tasting events.”
Selling wine in retail food stores was approved in 2016 but the ordinance to regulate it was never written so that too, was included in the ordinance that passed on Thursday. Beer sales are regulated solely by the city.
Another big commercial project is coming to East Ridge. A development agreement was approved with new owners, CC East Ridge, LLC, relating to tax incentives from the border region district. The Best Western Hotel at 6710 Ringgold Road will be converted to a Marriott Hotel. The hotel owners are also bringing The City Café’ with a bar area to the location.
East Ridge has received a Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant (LPRF grant) from the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation, for funding the renovation of Pioneer Frontier Park and Playground including a new splash pad. Engineering and design services will be provided by ASA Engineering. An amount not to exceed $20,000 was approved for the services which are a requirement of using grant money for the project. The construction and equipment parts of the park will have to be bid separately instead of treating the renovations as a whole. “Grants provide challenges and hurdles,” said Assistant City Manager Kenny Custer.
Two agreements with the Chattanooga Red Wolves were also approved by the council. One is the renewal of an agreement from last year that the city will buy sports equipment that the soccer club is installing at practice fields at Camp Jordan when and if it leaves the area. The cost will be negotiated minus depreciation and impairments.
Derrick Green, Executive Vice President of the Chattanooga Rebels Academy, the youth organization under the Red Wolves and Shawn McDaniel, general manager of the Red Wolves told the council their vision of the future of youth soccer in the area and the city. They said that they plan to make an investment in East Ridge to make an impact with soccer. The group wants to be involved with the community, schools and active lifestyles, the council was told, and they want Camp Jordan to be a hub in the expansion of rec soccer. They asked for help from the city, which they received when the council voted to not extend the current contract it has with (CFC) Chattanooga Football Club, when it expires in June 2021. Mayor Brian Williams said as a courtesy and in respect to CFC the city needs to notify them that the agreements will not be renewed when they expire.
The council authorized approval of two change orders from Mid-America Sports Construction related to stormwater drainage at the soccer fields expansion at Camp Jordan. City Manager Dorsey said while working, crews ran into problems with a drain behind houses on Jordan Run. Two drainage grates in the area should have taken stormwater into the creek, he said, but instead the drain pipes just stopped once they passed the houses. That left the water nowhere to go and it has just been slowly seeping into the area leaving the area always soggy. The repair being done now will carry the water all the way to the creek.
Several properties were rezoned at the meeting, all approved by the planning commission. 1505 Truman Avenue was rezoned from C-2 to R-1 and 845 and 855 Donaldson Road were both changed from R-1 to R-2, residential duplex which conforms to the way these houses were originally constructed.
The city manager reported that the plans for the city’s centennial celebration are expected to change. It was originally planned for April 10, but because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it most likely will be postponed.