The East Ridge city council voted Monday to dissolve it housing and redevelopment board, but Mayor Brent Lambert says work will continue on development and improvements for the city by other means.
All four city council members voted to abolish the board that had caused much grief among citizens who rallied repeatedly to abolish it or at least rein in the scope of its powers for property seizure.
The board will have one more meeting to adopt the abolition resolution by the city council, and thereby dissolve itself, said Lambert, who has a vote on the council but abstained.
“The public that was here today and at an open house we hosted Thursday predominantly were against the housing authority,” Lambert says.
“I think the dissolution of the authority — I believe that was in direct response to public outcry, and it’s hard to say what numbers are — how many people were really against it, how many thought it was a pretty good idea. It’s kinda hard to say. But we do know that the people who showed up at these meetings were largely against it. I think that certainly influenced the council’s actions.”
Without the agency, the mayor said, the city will use powers exercised through housing inspectors, of whom there are two (the department has five total staff members). That number is small, Lambert suggests. Their work against untidy lots and blighted buildings is reactive — “complaint-driven,” the mayor says.
How can a city develop commercial real estate without a redevelopment authority?
Lambert says the city is using the border region statute spurring retail growth at Exit 1. The statute “an opportunity to bring in business that may not otherwise want to locate here,” he says, and will give city government extra tax proceeds for years to come.
Developers are busy at Exit 1. But the city along its main corridor, Ringgold Road, will be able to benefit from the law, he says. A sidewalk streetscaping program will spruce up the city from center of town at Moore Road up the slope to the tunnel. “We think that will make a big difference” for development, he says.
That project will allow city government help deal with its stormwater runoff goals, “funded directly” by border region law reimbursements from the state, Lambert says.
David Tulis hosts a show 9-11 a.m. weekdays at 92.7 FM NoogaRadio, covering local economy and free markets in East Ridge and beyond.