Several thousand East Ridge residents and property owners were surprised when they received a letter from the City of East Ridge on Thursday informing them their property was in a redevelopment boundary.
The letter, officials said, went out to 2,500 people informing them of an “Open House Community Meeting” scheduled for May 3 at City Hall from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The meeting will give the public an opportunity to review the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s plan to fight blight in the city.
The redevelopment plan was adopted by the authority on March 21. The 25-page document will go before a vote of the East Ridge City Council at some point in the near future, officials said.
The housing and redevelopment authority was formed last spring with Mayor Brent Lambert appointing Ruth Braly, former Public Safety Director Eddie Phillips, Earl Wilson, former County Commissioner Curtis Adams and former City Councilman Darwin Branam as its members. City Attorney Mark Litchford was named as the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority attorney and Branam as its chairman.
In subsequent meetings, the board adopted an area in which it would focus on fighting blight. More than 1,200 properties are within the boundary map. The board then adopted its plan to “protect and enhance existing neighborhoods, increase strength for existing and prospective commercial areas, and provide creative approaches for renovation and redevelopment of properties.”
As required by state law, people who live within the defined boundary received the letters informing them of such earlier this week. During discussions of sending out notification letters, board officials made it clear that most everyone who received the notification letter would have nothing to fear in terms of them being forced out of their home or business by the City of East Ridge.
In early meetings, Branam, the board’s chair, said that the board would focus first on issues involving commercial property. In the second meeting three properties were briefly mentioned; a group of buildings in the 6000 block of Ringgold Road near Spring Creek Road, an assembly of corrugated metal buildings on the northwest side of Spring Creek near Ringgold Road; and some acreage in a low-lying area behind the Dollar General Store on Ringgold Road.
These properties were never mentioned in subsequent meetings during the board’s process of defining the boundary area and formulating the redevelopment plan.
The East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Board was granted $20,000 in operating funds from the City Council last month.