The East Ridge City Council gave its blessing for City Manager Scott Miller to move forward in borrowing $2.3 million to upgrade Camp Jordan, Thursday evening in its regularly scheduled meeting.
A resolution was unanimously passed authorizing Miller to begin the process of obtaining the money through the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund. Miller said the service on the debt would be paid for by revenue from future hotel/motel taxes.
“We are looking at not using tax dollars from sales and property taxes,” he said. “It will be paid by taxes paid by visitors visiting East Ridge.”
Miller said work would not begin until the fall focusing on utility infrastructure including power, water and sewer refurbishment. Going forward, upgrades would be done to restrooms, concessions, fencing, bleachers, laser grading baseball and softball fields and turfing the soccer stadium. Camp Jordan Arena would get an upgraded concession area and a new roof.
The council picked Christopher Harris to become the city’s next administrative hearing officer. Harris is replacing Kyle Hedrick, who had served since 2011. The council authorized Miller to negotiate a contract with Harris. His hourly rate was not to exceed $200 per hour. Harris told the council that he had no problem with that figure.
The administrative hearing officer serves as a judge in cases involving code violations that cannot be resolved between property owners and the City. By state law, the AHO is permitted to levy fines much higher than East Ridge Municipal Court.
The council revisited a budget amendment ordinance that was passed on first reading at the previous council meeting without benefit of a motion and a second by council member to adopt the ordinance. Mayor Brent Lambert characterized the gaff in parliamentary procedure as a “faux pas.” The council, without discussion, passed the budget amendment on first reading.
The council passed on first reading ordinances pertaining to commercial signs and building and design standards. Kenny Custer, Director of Community Services, told the panel that it was his desire that all variances for commercial signs – both on and off premise – be heard by the East Ridge City Council. Custer also wanted a new element in the city’s ordinances which would “keep continuity” in neighborhoods as it relates to sizes of homes in established neighborhoods.
He gave an example of a home that is situated in a neighborhood of 1,500 square-foot homes being destroyed by fire. The owner would be prohibited in replacing it with a much smaller, say 400 square-foot “tiny home.” Custer said a property owner would have the ability to appeal for a variance before the city council.
The council approved a $3,900 change order to the construction of the Exit 1 reconfiguration on Interstate 75. Miller said the work would involve boring a hole under the exit to install lighting. Miller said this was the third change order by C.W. Matthews at the $7 million project. It was his opinion that this detail was overlooked in the design process of the project and was not the fault of the contractor.
Rick Bonner with the East Ridge Community Food Pantry appeared before the council announcing the charitable group’s fundraising drive selling plats of strawberries. If people are interested in supporting the effort they are to call 423-596-4270 to pre-order. The strawberries are $20 per flat and the deadline for ordering is March 12. Strawberries will be delivered from March 19-24.
Bonner said that last week the food pantry helped 271 people in our city.
Custer, who is the City’s representative on the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority, announced the opening of a “Quick Pay Center” to pay WWTA bills. That center is located at 1250 Market Street in Chattanooga at the Development Resource Center. This will allow WWTA customers to pay their bills in person with cash, check or credit/debit card. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.