The East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority modified and “reaffirmed” its boundary map and reviewed a redevelopment document, Wednesday morning during a meeting at City Hall.
Housing authority attorney Mark Litchford told the board that Commissioner Ruth Braly pointed out a small tract of land northwest of the Welcome Center on Interstate 75, and bordering Camp Jordan and the Jordan Crossing development that was omitted from the original Boundary Area Map that was adopted by the board during its January 24 meeting. The small sliver of land was added to the boundary map and the board voted once again to officially adopt the map as the area in which the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority has the power in which to act.
Litchford presented board members with a “Redevelopment Plan,” a document that is required under state law which the housing and redevelopment authority must adopt before proceeding with its work to fight blight and promote redevelopment in the city. The 28-page document – which is available for citizens to read at the City Recorder’s office inside City Hall – is a “plan for acquisition of properties, relocation of the displaces [sic], removal of existing improvements, installation of new site improvement, resale of improved land, and/or designation of uses permitted in redevelopment of new sites.”
Litchford reviewed the document with the board for more than an hour. Board Chairman Darwin Branam said that the redevelopment plan “speaks for itself.” He said that he saw “no politics in it,” and said it will be “very good for the City of East Ridge.”
Commissioner Earl Wilson made a motion to table adoption of the Redevelopment Plan until the board had an opportunity to digest it. The board voted to table the measure until its next special called meeting at 10 a.m. on March 21.
Wilson also suggested that the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority change when it meets to give more citizens an opportunity to attend meetings.
“The more we get citizens involved, the less resistance we will meet,” Wilson said. “Information is power. We have to be transparent to the city. We’ve got to make that effort.”
It was agreed that the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority will begin meeting on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in council chambers. The schedule will become effective on April 19.
A discussion ensued about having an “open house” with the public. Housing authority members and city staff would explain what the aim of the housing authority is and how it will operate, answering any questions the public may have about the efforts of the city in regard to revitalization.
Wilson then brought up what he perceived as a potential conflict of interest in having City Attorney Litchford also being counsel for the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
City Manager Miller said that he had worked in a previous city in which a conflict arose between the housing authority and the city council. Miller said the entities had their own respective attorneys.
Chairman Branam said that any conflict would be “highly unlikely.” Branam said that the board was just getting started. In the future if the board sees a “situation coming up” it may then decide to hire a different attorney.
Litchford assured the board that “if there’s a conflict, I will identify it.”