Last summer, the East Ridge City Council made a decision to allow only two liquor stores to be built in the city. A lottery was held to choose who would own them. One of the stores is in the western end of town where the council is trying to spur development. The other is in the eastern end of East Ridge where most of the new development has been taking place, spurred by incentives offered from the state of Tennessee to both the city and developers due to the border region status of the city.
Previously, the city approved an additional incentive to the store on the west end of town which is doubling the size from the minimum that the city set.
That business and the city will each receive 50 percent of the state sales tax that is returned to East Ridge because it is in the border region zone. At the Thursday night council meeting, the developer of the store on the other side of town requested that store be given the same split.
Vice Mayor Mike Chauncy made a motion to renegotiate the original proposal with the developer but suggested a split of 70 percent for the city and 30 percent to the business. He said the new request from the business included an increase in amount of display space but it is not doubled as is the other store. He also stated that this owner was the winner out of two dozen applicants and a 50/50 split was not a factor when the lottery was awarded. He noted that 6009 Ringgold Road is the best location and that sets the ground work for the store to be successful. A 50/50 share of the tax is not fair for the city, said the vice mayor.
City Attorney Mark Litchford said all the negotiations are based on projected sales and that the developer has to generate that amount to receive what is expected. In addition to the border region income, the city will also get money from the local option tax and property taxes. If projections are right, the city and developer will both make $3.5 million after 25 years in business.
The purpose of the border region is to trigger economic development and tourism in the district. The businesses that build and operate there take risks as well as the city, he said. There has been an expectation of growth with the border region status and that the additional money the city receives can be used for improving and building infrastructure, said Mr. Litchford. He said the city is seeing retail growth because of the border region incentives and is on track for receiving $20 million in 10 years. He said, "It is to our advantage to incentivize businesses because you can see the growth."
The council agreed and voted down the motion to renegotiate. In another vote, a motion passed to grant the developer’s request for a 50/50 split of the state income tax returned to the border region district.
In regular business, the purchase of two vehicles were authorized for the police department. A 2022 Ford Interceptor SUV for $41,839 will replace one that was wrecked and totaled in December and a vehicle will be bought to use for undercover police operations at the cost of $25,292.
The city will also order 150 trash and 150 recycling bins for $17,400 plus shipping. These will be available as many of the old 10-year-old bins are breaking and have missing lids. City Manager Chris Dorsey is planning ahead since the lead time for delivery of the bins is four months.
The council unanimously voted to accept the gift of a ballistic vest for East Ridge’s new K-9 Officer, a German Shepherd named Quest. The gift came from KC Candle Company which started the “Candles for K-9 Program” last year. The company accepts donations as well as using some of its own proceeds to buy the $800 protective vests. KC Candle Company has also provided vests to the Hamilton County Sheriffs Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
The city manager gave an update to progress of the city’s newest parks. The dog park has been fenced and benches have been received. Concrete pads will soon be poured for the benches. Equipment has been ordered and the target for opening the park is spring.
All equipment is in and has been tested for the new Pioneer Frontier playground and Splash Pad that is next door to city hall. The next step will be installing a fence around the splash pad, finishing ADA assessable items and planting grass. The splash pad will not open until it is warm, but it is hoped the playground will open soon.
Police Chief Stan Allen said the city has a program on the website of a database where residents of East Ridge can register their relatives who have trouble communicating or have mental issues. The website allows a family member to put information such as addresses and phone numbers and the individual’s photo on the site. This will allow an officer to look at the website and, if they can identify the person, they will be taken home. The website is takemehometn.org. Chief Allen said this site is available for looking up people to any officer in the area outside of East Ridge.
The next meeting of the East Ridge city council will be on Feb.10. Rezoning multiple locations will be on the agenda, including the rezoning of 1410 N. Mack Smith Road, which had been tabled from an earlier meeting. Rezoning 495 Camp Jordan Parkway from C-1 to O-2 will be considered on first reading. This would allow an emergency care facility to be built there. The first reading for an ordinance to rezone six properties to C Planned Commerce Center District will take place. If passed, all property lines would be dissolved and the property would be incorporated into a large parcel and incorporated into the Red Wolves site. Another item, a new human resources manual, will be presented at the next meeting.